Green City Market

Program Type: 
Farm Based, Kitchen Classrooms, Academic Classrooms
Grade Level/Age Group: 
Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School, High School
Number of Individuals Program Serves: 
Year Founded: 
About the Program: 

The mission of Green City Market is to pave a new path for the local food economy in the Midwest by fostering opportunity for small family farmers, educating consumers and the next generation of eaters, and increasing access to local, healthy, sustainable food for all Chicagoans. Green City Market achieves this mission in three different focus areas. To create opportunity for small farmers, we offer year-round farmers markets featuring local family farms, as well as scholarships and resources for small farmers through our Farm Forward Fund. To educate consumers and the next generation of eaters, we provide educational programming about food sustainability via field trips, lectures, workshops, cooking classes, hands-on activities at our farmers markets, community kitchen space, and local schools. To increase access to local, healthy, sustainable food, we provide a matching funds for those receiving federal food assistance and a produce delivery service to a local Chicago Public School.

Green City Market serves a diverse population that travel from all across the City of Chicago and suburbs. We host free field trips of The Edible Gardens and tours of the market that are attended by school children as well as adult groups from over 25 zip codes.


Our programming values access to local, healthy, sustainably raised food for all.  We believe that through our educational programs, the importance of such food is better understood.  Our educational programs are multipronged to address the following areas of importance:

expanding access through markets, low-fees and outreach

investing in food education through chef demos, club sprouts and the edible gardens

supporting farmer education and growth through resources and scholarships

serving the larger Chicago community through our LINK matching program

We achieve this through a variety of educational programs:

Club Sprouts encourages young people to try new, locally grown sustainable foods. At every market, children are given the opportunity to taste an in-season market item. Those who sample one of the tastes receive a stamp on their Club Sprouts membership card. Kids earn points for each new thing they try, we track it and then after a certain number of tastes they graduate with a certificate of “Good Taste”. Club Sprouts also offers fun, seasonal activitites and lessons, from scavenger hunts, to hands-on recipes, so children can learn the benefits of eating fresh, healthy ingredients and supporting local farms.  

Chef Demonstrations consist of local chefs showcasing recipes using seasonal and sustainable ingredients from GCM vendors which provide inspiration and guidance for how to cook with market ingredients in the home.  

Tours and Field Trips happen each market day and directly connect market goers and educational groups with why it is so important to eat local and support sustainably grown products. For example, groups can see first hand that eggs come in more colors than just white and truly understand the seasonal bounty of the Midwest.

The Edible Gardens program provides hands-on gardening education and activities to children, adults, and school groups. The 5,000 square foot teaching garden welcomes all who are interested to help them understand where their food comes from. Individuals have the ability to tour the garden and get their hands dirty preparing soil, planting, thinning, weeding, and of course harvesting and tasting. This year we are very excited that we will be able to offer teachers the opportunity to continue the learning in their classrooms through free teacher boxes. Teachers can borrow the boxes for a week and create additional experiments with students right in the classroom. The Learning Boxes will help bridge the gap between the education that takes place in The Edible Gardens and Club Sprouts.  

LINK/Double Value program enhances access to fresh, healthy, locally grown food to all members of our community by doubling the value of LINK benefits dollar-for-dollar (up to $15 per card, per market day) to spend at the market. By making benefit dollars go farther, Green City Market's double value program encourages LINK beneficiaries to frequent the market and support a local food system.

Our Compost and Recycling program has helped to divert tens of thousands of pounds of food waste from Chicago area landfills since the program's inception in 2012. The green “Compost Center” tent, located in the center of the outdoor market, is Green City Market’s centralized waste disposal area. The tent is staffed to help market-goers sort their waste, and to ensure the compost and recycling streams are uncontaminated.

Farmer Scholarship program is able to offer educational scholarships to GCM farmers/vendors. The eligible educational opportunities have been expanded to include all regional conferences and workshops and any educational programs offered by local extension offices. The purpose of the scholarship is to provide assistance to those who wish to increase their understanding of sustainable growing practices or obtain 3rd party certification for their farms.