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Have you heard about the new farmers market coming this summer to South Grant Park? On May 10 the Grant Park Conservancy and Advisory Council held a public meeting to present the plans for a new farmers market in South Grant Park. About 26 neighbors gathered to listen to the plans, ask questions, and provide support for this exciting project.

One of the goals this project hopes to accomplish is to activate this lovely section of the park and bring more people to it. The park district sees that South Grant Park is utilized, but they feel there is room for improvement. What better way to enliven the park then to bring us a summer farmers market! The farmers market will serve the community not only by bringing us great fresh food, but it will also bring in some revenue that will help fund park improvements.

South Grant Park Chicago

Proposed Setting for South Grant Park Farmers Market

The area that has been chosen to host the farmers market is along Michigan Avenue, just south of Balbo. With the little fountain as a backdrop it will be a perfect French style setting for neighbors to pick breads, cheeses, meats, dairy, artisan foods, produce, and perhaps even some crafts.

This summer the Bensidoun family, the organizers of this and the Chicago French Market at Ogilvie, expect to sign up 20 to 25 vendors. The project has room for expansion south on the other side of the hill to accommodate up to 40 vendors. The French Market at Ogilvie currently has 30 vendors, if the South Grant Park farmers market expands to 40 it would be a world-class destination for locals.

The South Grant Park farmers market is designed to serve the local neighborhood. It will be held on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The hope is that it will open June 3, the first Friday of the month.

The Bensidoun family is the largest market operator in Paris. The family owned and run business has spanned three generations since 1953. When designing a market they try to have a balanced variety of vendors so while there may be a little competition among them, it remains healthy and profitable for the farmers. The majority of vendors in the Bensidoun database are excited about this opportunity.

It was asked in the meeting if this market could be held on a Saturday, so neighbors who can’t easily visit before or during work will be able to go, or if it could be held at night to attract the Summer Dance crowd. Plans for the South Grant Park farmers market started late in the year, when other markets already had dates set. Saturdays are big for vendors to attend markets in the suburbs so in the beginning South Grant Park would be on Friday, but if Saturday proves to be better it could move in the future. The farmers market is intended to serve the community, so community demand will drive it.

The Bensidoun family operates 11 outdoor Chicago markets already and hope to expand around the city so there is one per week, serving everyone’s schedule.

For more information regarding the proposed market and the meeting this past Tuesday see Ben Meyerson’s article in the Chicago Journal.

Before you visit any farmers markets this year don’t forget to review the Tribune’s Ten @ 10: Things not to say at the farmers market.


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