WHO SAYS YOU HAVE TO LEAVE ANDERSONVILLE TO CAPTURE THE SMALL TOWN CHARM OF AN OLD-FASHIONED FARMERS MARKET?

Finding organic items is just a few steps from your Andersonville door.   The farmers market, in its inaugural year, is quickly becoming an Andersonville destination for a closely- knit community that truly embodies the value of shopping locally.   Case in point:   The Andersonville 20/20, where shoppers are challenged to spend $20 for 20 weeks within the Andersonville district.   The farmers market follows the tightly-knit community spirit of Andersonville, where you can meet your neighbors in a colorful, lively venue during the most beautiful evenings of summer in Chicago.

Berwyn Avenue between Clark and Ashland is the place to be every Wednesday from 4-8 p.m.   Make a date to stroll along Berwyn, taking in the sumptuous offerings from vendors of locally-grown organic treats.   But–before you head to the farmer’s market– in the spirit of shopping locally in Andersonville, visit In Fine Spirits at 5420 North Clark and purchase a bottle of wine.   You will want that wine to accompany the sweet, natural raw milk cheese you’ll find when you visit Darlington, Wisconsin’s Brunkow Cheese Co-Op.     Be sure to also catch a chef’s demonstration, after which you’ll take a leisurely stroll, a backdrop of local musicians filling the air with urban sounds, a reminder that you haven’t left your Andersonville neighborhood.   This romantic moment is just the right time to stop for a bouquet of freshly-cut wildflowers from Grassroots Farm.

Food shopping is far from a chore at this farmer’s market destination, with vendors as diverse as the Andersonville neighborhood itself.     You never know who you’ll meet where grocery shopping turns social gathering.   This venue’s ambiance is a sweet summer diversion from the usual grocery chain, and the people watching and live music alone make it worth the trip.   As you continue to explore the market’s top-notch food vendors, complement your wine and cheese with an array of fresh berries and visit Hardin Farm/Holle Orchard and Iron Creek Farm to get the perfect ingredients for a summer fruit salad.

You may as well plan several summer meals while at the Andersonville affair.     Stop at Mint Creek and be assured of serving a purely grain-fed lamb in that sinful Greek recipe you’ve been dying to show off at a gathering of your closest friends this weekend.   Don’t forget how much the love of your life looks forward to your weekend breakfasts of scrambled eggs and toast with fresh honey.  You’ll find the perfect ingredients at C&D Family Farms.

Stop at Bennison’s Bakery, an Evanston institution since the 1930s, for the freshly-baked bread you’ll serve with those eggs.   You’d think it was still 1939–it is said that Bennison’s bakers still end the day with flour on their shoes.   This is no surprise–Bennison’s is one of few bakeries left in America which employs two Certified Master Bakers.     To accompany your toasted whole-grain bread, Tomato Mountain will have plenty of fresh strawberry preserves.   It won’t take long to read the label on this jar of preserves.   Expect but a few natural ingredients-strawberries, real ones at that, with pectin-not pesticides, for another.

As blissfully distracting the fresh, locally-grown edibles, remember that what goes onto your body is as vital as what goes into your body.   Visit Scotch Hill Farm for milk-based soap that’s good enough to eat.

Before you leave, don’t forget to buy a birthday gift for your food-enthusiast friend with the gourmet palate.   A jar of roasted portabella salsa, a signature treat from River Valley Ranch, will surely satisfy.   In addition, your friend would love a gift from The Swedish American Museum of Chicago— a must for imported Swedish foods.   Note that the Museum also visits Andersonville each June for the Midsommarfest street festival, another chance to meet neighbors, neighborhood shop owners and artisans and enjoy Swedish music and dancing.

Not to worry about leftovers when the Andersonville Farmers Market ends on Wednesdays at 8 p.m.   Any leftover produce is donated to Edgewater’s Food Pantry, Care For Real.

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