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Farmers Market Finds: Carpenter Street Honey

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Aug 9, 2010 2:40PM


If you're a frequent visitor to the weekly Pilsen Community Market — and judging from the crowd yesterday you probably aren't — you might have already tried some of Donna Oppolo's honey, made from her five hives in Pilsen. Oppolo, a longtime Pilsen resident and beekeeper, tends to two hives in her backyard and another three at the Growing Station Community Garden at 21st and Sangamon, each hive populated by 50,000 bees. Of her apiary charges, Oppolo said, "It's like having nearly a quarter million pets."

"Five hives doesn't produce a lot of honey," Oppolo said, citing the short life span of the male worker bees. The honey produced from the hives is sold largely at the market; Oppolo also picks up a sale or two when hosting tours of the community garden. In addition to the honey, Oppolo also make s honey soaps and lozenges, and reclaims beeswax for skin care bars and lip balm. A half pint of honey will set you back $7.50, with a full pint priced at $13. I bought a pint of the lighter clover honey yesterday. It's not as thick as the Chicago Honey Coop's clover honey - Oppolo's honey ran fast off a spoon. But the sugar content is rich and leaves a lasting impression in the back of the mouth, making for a perfect summer sweetener.

Oppolo's honeys are only one reason to visit the Pilsen market. Yesterday, farmers also had the first harvests of corn, tomatoes, apples, peas, squash and zucchini for sale. Grilling enthusiasts should also check out the Meat Goat, a vendor selling organic grass-fed beef and organic pork and chicken from farms around Black Earth, WI.

The Pilsen Community Market is located in the parking lot of North Community Bank (1800 S. Halsted) and is open Sundays through October.