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Green City Market's New Fulton Market Location Opens Saturday [UPDATE]

By Melissa McEwen in Food on Aug 8, 2014 8:40PM

Update 5 p.m.: A few vendors are unable to make it and have been crossed off the list

Green City Market is opening its first outpost on the West side on Saturday which will be located at Halsted and Fulton Market from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The popular farmer’s market has its home base in Lincoln Park, but they hope the new location will serve the area’s rich concentration of chef’s and wholesalers.

The market’s confirmed vendors include many favorites from the flagship location:
Amazing Shrimp
Bennison's Bakery
Brunkow Cheese
Bushel & Peck's
Ellis Family Farms
Genesis Growers
Green Acres
Heartland Meats
Hillside Orchards
Iron Creek Organics
Leaning Shed Farm
Mick Klug Farm
Mint Creek
Nichols Farm & Orchard
Nordic Creamery
Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery
River Valley Ranch and Kitchens
The Flower Garden

The market was part of the Fulton Market Innovation District Plan and DNAinfo reported it was being held back by local Alderman Walter Burnett (27th Ward) at the behest of a group known as The Randolph/Fulton Market Association (RFMA). The groups’ members include large food wholesalers and meat packers, as well as a few banks. Executive director Roger Romanelli says they opposed the Green City Market because their “proposal was chosen by the community, not an outside group like Green City Market.”

When pressed about how they engaged with the community and their exact plans, Romanelli did not respond. Running a farmer’s market is difficult and a number of farmer’s markets in Chicago have closed in the past year. Why would RFMA stir up issues with the Green City Market? Readers of local news might be familiar with Roger Romanelli because of his campaign against early-morning church bells and he was part of a group opposed to the BRT project on Ashland.

One of the tactics that has become Romanelli hallmark is counter-proposals that often sound better, such as a larger farmer’s market than the Green City’s plan or “Modern Express Bus” instead of BRT. But there is little evidence they are more than smoke and mirrors. The Modern Express Bus sounds great, but has no backing from actual city planners or transit engineers. And beyond the fact they have no experience running farmer’s markets, it turns out the bigger lot they wanted their farmer’s market to operate in is actually in use already and not available.

Green City's associate director Mark Psilos says a few minor staffing-related delays pushed out the market’s opening from the originally planned date, but otherwise he said these political issues haven’t affected the market.

It makes you wonder how the RFMA manages to get local Alderman Burnett’s ear. It turns out RFMA member American Charter Bank is one of his biggest donors. But the tide might be turning. At a recent meeting DNAinfo says Burnett said he didn’t take RFMA’s petition against landmarking in the area seriously, saying he didn’t think they really understood the plan.