Chicago Outdoor Produce Stands Serving Underserved Areas Approved By City Council

Hopefully, many of you are planning on heading to the Midwest for the PPS September International Public Market Conference on September 21-23, 2012. If you do, it might be worth an extra few days to drive or take the train to Chicago and see their growing local food presence. Every time I go, I find another sustainable project or food system piece to check out. It certainly has to do with the current federal administration’s own interest (and connection to the new mayor) in their home city, and probably also has to do with the last mayor’s interest in greening the city; Daley was the one who put the rooftop garden on city hall after all.

The cart approach that Mayor Emmanuel is offering in the press release attached here has its supporters and detractors. I, for one think before we use these less balanced fixes to try to address food insecurity and sovereignty issues, the farmers market movement needs to be better at knowing how to identify the types of markets that work in these different situations. Or, at least, make sure that the powers that be have farmers needs in mind and have time to build food producers’ long range direct marketing plans. Those types of markets would be collected using the research that myself and others are working on: identifying characteristics, indicators to get typology of markets. My project, using the acronym Market CITY, will be bringing together researchers, practioners and stakeholders to start to build the typology framework. More on that later.
But, do start to plan your Midwestern fact-finding trip and I hope you can find time to seek out these regional farming initiatives when you travel.

Chicago Outdoor Produce Stands Serving Underserved Areas Approved By City Council.



  1. Whatever they are doing in Chicago today has to be an improvement over what I observed in 1997. I was staying somewhere in the Loop and went to a midweek market in the plaza of a skyscraper. I tried to engage the staff in conversation and determined that the site manager saw her functions as 1) making sure farmers stayed within their stall dimensions; 2) holding the bathroom keys; and 3) referring all questions to a mysterious supervisor who might show up later. Not exactly one of the true believers! I chatted up the vendors instead and bought as much as we could possibly eat in a hotel room. I got the sense that some of the neighborhood markets had a discernible soul and perhaps staff that cared.
    PS: Might see you in Oregon City later this month if I can spare the time to go.


    • There is a definite improvement there no doubt! I found that a lot of older market districts had quasi-city management and so saw their role in a stall landlord role almost entirely. In my mind, that is exactly the reason that we can define this new movement as new- the founders of the markets from late 1970s-1990s changed the governance, intent and management structure to balance the needs of many communities, not just to serve as keyholders and line police. I hope you can come to OC-it will be illuminating!


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