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Five new farmers markets to open on West Side

FILE PHOTO. | Michael Sean Comerford - For Sun-Times Media

FILE PHOTO. | Michael Sean Comerford - For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 12, 2012 2:34PM

Five new farmers markets will open in Chicago neighborhoods starved for fresh fruits and vegetables, providing a summer oasis in the food desert.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has summoned the CEOs of Wal-Mart and other major retailers to a summit on “food deserts” that, he claims, produced plans to build 17 new stores and retrofit 19 existing stores to sell fresh produce in inner-city neighborhoods.

He has also promoted urban agriculture — by championing an ordinance that expanded the maximum size of community gardens, eased fencing and parking requirements on larger commercial urban farms and allowed those farms to sell their wares at farmer’s markets.

The five new farmers markets mark yet another step to fill the void that has left inner-city communities with precious few shopping choices.

In addition to selling fresh fruits and vegetables, the markets will feature on-site demonstrations on how to eat right, cook healthy meals and plant herbs and gardens. Arts, music and community programming will also be offered.

In a news release announcing the new markets, Emanuel said he is determined to bring “healthy options” to neighborhoods “underserved by traditional” grocery stores.

“It is unacceptable that nearly 400,000 Chicagoans do not have access to healthy, fresh food for their families. … These farmers markets are a piece of a comprehensive plan to take food deserts off the map in our city,” the mayor was quoted as saying.

The five new markets bring the citywide total to more than 20.

They will be held at: Healing Temple Church, 4941 W. Chicago, from 2 to 6 p.m. Sundays June 24 to Oct. 28; Columbus Park at Harrison and Central from 1 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays June 26 to Oct. 30; LaFollette Park at Hirsch and Laramie from 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays June 20 to Oct. 24; Austin Town Center at Lake and Central from 1 to 7 p.m. Thursdays June 28 to Oct. 25 and at Mount Ebenezer Baptist Church, 3555 W. Huron, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays June 30 to Oct. 27.

The new markets will be financed by $75,000 contributions from both Kraft Foods and the Safeway Foundation. Additional support will be provided by: the Chicago Botanic Garden; Fresh Moves; Parkways Foundation; the Greater Chicago Food Depository; Washburne Culinary Institute; the Illinois Farmer’s Market Network; Kendall College and Fresh Taste.

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