Chicago winters can be tough on anyone, but they are a special quandary for residents who enjoy shopping at farmers’ markets during the region’s relatively brief spring-summer growing season. The good news is that farmers markets, while diminished, do not completely go into hibernation for the winter.
Two of Chicago’s biggest farmers markets — Green City Market in the Lincoln Park neighborhood and the Logan Square Farmers Market — have moved indoors and will be open on most winter weekends (Green City on Saturdays and Logan Square on Sundays).
In addition, the 61st Street Market, located on the South Side adjacent to University of Chicago, will be holding indoor hours on Saturdays through Dec. 15, when it closes for the season. And an organization called Local Harvest will be holding weekly pop-up markets once a week in locations in and around Chicago.
The Farmer and Artisan Food Market in Evanston, a suburb that borders Chicago to the north (and is home to Northwestern University), is open indoors on Saturdays through April.
The schedule for this weekend (Dec. 1-2) is as follows:
• Green City Market (Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Dr., Chicago): Saturday, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
• 61st Street Farmers Market (Experimental Station, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave., Chicago): Saturday, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
• Evanston Farmer and Artisan Food Market (Evanston Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd., Evanston): Saturday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
• Local Harvest Winter Farmers Market and Christmas Bazaar (Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church, 9147 S. Jeffery Blvd., Chicago): Saturday, 12 p.m – 4 p.m.
• Logan Square Farmers Market (Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago): Sunday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The number of providers participating in the markets this time of year is, not surprisingly, much smaller than during the peak growing season, and many items, such as corn, tomatoes, summer squash and tree fruits, are simply done for the year.
During the dead of winter, fresh anything will be hard to find, and the vendors at these farmers markets will mainly be those that sell preserved foods (such as canned fruits, pickled vegetables and jams), baked goods and flash-frozen meats and fish.
But through December — and the run-up to holiday cooking — the fresh produce cupboard should not be bare at the handful of markets that remain open.
According to a regional growing chart posted by the 61st Street Farmers Market, items that remain in season include root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, parsnips, turnips and beets; spinach and other leafy cooking greens; cabbage and brussels sprouts; and mushrooms.
rootshed.com will be visiting the Green City Market on Saturday to report on the current selection.
[Note: Information about the Evanston farmers market was added to the original version of this article.]