Last Saturday, Spoon University at UChicago got together and went over to the 61st Street Farmers Market using a bus arranged by another on-campus student group. This was the first time a bus was provided in an effort to promote the market to students unaware that such a thing was going on down the street! We were even given free tote bags, which was a welcome surprise. Organic, sustainably-sourced, local and seasonal goods were all for sale at the Experimental Station, the location for the market’s indoor season. Some of the more unusual items that stuck out to me included mustard sprouts (something to put on salads and sandwiches?), mushroom-based salsas and bacon lip balm. Other than that, a variety of breads, jams, cheese, lamb, beef, preserves, seasonal fruits and veggies, eggs and of course more can all be purchased there. Delicious pre-made frozen yogurts and ice creams, savory pies and crepes are good choices for snacking during your shopping.
Even though the market isn’t huge, I prolonged my time by talking to the vendors and saying hi to friends that were checking it out as well. I bought a rye and beer pretzel for $2 as well as a veggie chili soup mix for $8—a good deal in that each package made eight servings. A friend vouched for the hot chocolate provided by Yoberri Gourmet, and if I wasn’t so full from my pretzel, I definitely would have tried it. Many farms, kitchens and other organizations that made their appearance received good reviews by critics and Yelpers alike. One of the regulars, Lucky Duck Farms, was even spotlighted by Southwest Airline’s magazine in March 2014! (A comprehensive list of the local vendors is available on the market’s website here.)
The very wonderful 61st Street Farmers Market takes place every Saturday rain or shine from mid-May to mid-December, and while it does indeed stay open year round, the remaining months are graced with its presence only once or twice each time. One thing is for sure: it is always open from 9 am to 2 pm. If you’re interested in going, it’s also good to know that the outdoor season lasts until the end of October and moves indoors when it is May again. Nice to know that you’ll be indoors while shopping around in these Chicago winters, right?
When I was in the dorms, this was an especially small, fun outing for me. Since the dining hall is closed after 2:30 pm on Saturday, I felt good walking over with a friend to buy quality produce and make myself a meal. Sometimes if I was thinking ahead, I stocked up on food to nosh on throughout the week. As a student now living off campus, I am still thankful that we have access to a farmers market and would love to continue supporting the vendors. Make sure to check it out if you have the chance!