As a world class city, Chicago is at the forefront of innovation; visionaries are looking to a sustainable way of living as a new blueprint for urban life. Chicago fosters a variety of “green” projects. The Edible Gardens and the Green City Market are organizations that support and educate others on a sustainable, natural lifestyle by locally growing produce and creating educational programs. To begin with, Green City Market began with the vision of one woman, Abby Mandel, in 1998. Mandel, who was an author, chef, and entrepreneur, traveled to Europe and was inspired by the sustainable farmer’s markets and vowed to design a sustainable market in Chicago. She started GCM with nine local farmers next to the Chicago Theater. Within a short period of time, GCM expanded to its current location in Lincoln Park. Abby Mandel died in 2008. In addition, Green City Market’s mission is as follows:
“The mission of Green City Market is to provide a marketplace for purchasing sustainably grown food and to educate, promote and connect farmers and local producers directly to chefs, restaurateurs and the greater Chicago community” (The Edible Gardens and Green City Market).
Likewise, The Edible Garden and the Green City Market foster a plethora of programs, but three are unique to this organization: The Edible Gardens, Club Sports, and Chef Demonstrations. The Edible Gardens, located at the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Farm-in-the-Zoo is a small organic farm growing in season produce. It is important because it not only educates the public, but also creates interesting dialogue about sustainable living. Chef demonstrations, a program featuring local chefs using fresh ingredients to create meals, gives patrons practical ways to use the fruits and vegetables in season at The Edible Garden. Club Sprouts is a children’s program about the diversity of food groups and a natural lifestyle. Children receive a stamp each time they stop by the Club Sprout tent at the Green City Market and complete an activity. The activities range from art projects about in season vegetables to trying a new, healthy meal.
In comparison to other organic, fresh produce stores like Whole Foods, Green City Market is 6% cheaper, showing that a natural, healthy lifestyle can be affordable, contrary to the widely distributed belief that sustainable living is too expensive. In comparison to Green City market, there are two NPOs that are located on the east coast of the United States that share the same values as GCM. These projects are City Green in New Jersey and Grow NYC in New York. City Green’s mission is to establish and facilitate urban farms and gardens to enrich the lives of the inner city residents. They also educate the public in the fields of public health, nutrition and the environment, while offering support to all community members to manage the gardens and farms.
The second NPO is Grow NYC in New York. Grow NYC’s mission is to establish green programs that will greatly improve NYC’s quality of life and transform communities block by block. Grow NYC first began in 1970 as a policy-based organization called the Council on the Environment of New York City. Since its birth, this organization has established the Union Square Greenmarket, built community gardens, and constantly promotes and improves recycling awareness.
An interview with a volunteer at The Green City Market revealed her belief that The Edible Gardens and The Green City Market were an invaluable resource to the Chicagoland area; she argues that the organizations foster a greater sense of community while promoting a healthier, ecological lifestyle.
The Edible Gardens and the Green City Market has both volunteer and administrative positions available for interested applicants. Volunteers can volunteer at the “Information Tent” during market days and work with the Club Sprouts program.
The Edible Gardens and the Green City Market are great stepping stones for an urban, ecological way of living. This organization is a leading example that it is possible to live in 2014 and be environmentally responsible. They are creating jobs as well as educating the community to be a part of and give back to the environment instead of selfishly using up vital resources that cannot be recreated.
1. “About GrowNYC | GrowNYC.” About GrowNYC | GrowNYC. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 May 2014. . 2. “City Green.” City Green. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 May 2014. . 3. “The Edible Gardens.” – Green City Market. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 May 2014. .