The Summer’s Bounty
Summer is in full swing in Chicago, and we want you to savor every last bite of it—literally. This month we’re digging into the city’s agricultural side and sharing how you can enjoy the fruits of the season, from farmers markets to farm visits.
Summer is also a season of change for many Chicago homeowners. If you’re ready to buy or sell or are just considering a move to a new neighborhood, I’d love to help.
Farm Fresh Finds
Summertime brings fresh produce—like zucchini, tomatoes, and a rainbow of berries—to Chicago’s streets via pop-up farmers markets. Wherever you are in Chicagoland, you’ll have easy access to the fruits of local farmers’ labors, plus a whole lot more, at these weekly outdoor emporiums.
Green City Market, Lincoln Park & West Loop
Lincoln Park: Wednesdays & Saturdays | 7 am–1 pm
West Loop: Saturdays | 8 am–1 pm
As Chicago’s largest and first year-round sustainable farmers market, Green City Market holds all of its farmers to the highest standards set by national agencies. After strolling the stalls for farm-fresh produce, baked goods, dairy, and meats, grab some prepared foods—like bao and lumpia from Noble Fat and tacos from Cookies & Carnitas—and enjoy!
Logan Square Farmers Market, Logan Square
Sundays | 9 am–3 pm
Some 50 vendors gather every week for the Logan Square Farmers Market, which has been named Best Farmers Market by the likes of the Chicago Reader, Chicago Magazine, and USA Today. You’ll find local goodies ranging from honey to hot sauce, baklava to bagels, plus the usual fruits and veggies. Artisan sellers also gather to hock wares more familiar to flea markets, like antiques and home décor.
Downtown Evanston Farmers Market, Evanston
Saturdays | 7:30 am–1 pm
Early on Saturday mornings, nearly 60 local purveyors of fruit, vegetables, cheese, milk, eggs, flowers, and more set up shop at the Downtown Evanston Farmers Market. Regulars love the large variety of produce, fresh-baked treats from Marilyn’s Pies, and breakfast tacos from Cocina Azteca. Because the market is in the heart of downtown, it’s easy to make a day of it and explore Evanston after perusing the tents.
Frankfort Country Market, Frankfort
Sundays | 9 am–1 pm
Picturesque Frankfort comes to life on Sunday mornings with their regular Country Market. More than 50 growers, bakers, and makers come together to share just-picked produce, flowers, and baked goods. The secret locals love about this market: Fresh salsas from purveyors like Mamacita Salsa, Monkey McGee Salsa & Sauce, and Sonoma Farms.
Down On The Farm
Get out of the city this summer with a trip to one of the region’s local farms. Agritourism ventures give kids and adults alike a chance to see what life’s like on the land and have some good old-fashioned fun with activities like berry picking and sunflower mazes.
Stade’s Farm & Market, McHenry
Where the suburbs turn to sprawling fields, Stade’s Farm & Market has planted its roots. 17 acres of u-pick strawberry fields are ripe with the jewel-tone berries in June and July, but you can enjoy treats made from the fruit—like pies and jams—all season long. They’ve expanded their u-pick produce to include green beans, peppers, sugar snap peas, and sunflowers, all of which should be ripe for the plucking this month.
Tom’s Farm Market, Huntley
Since 1959, Tom’s Farm Market has been sharing farm-fresh produce and fresh air with Chicagoans. These days, it’s easy to spend the whole day at the farm: Parents with a green thumb will love the Garden Center, and with a bakery and a café, there’s plenty to keep little tummies from grumbling. When the sunflowers begin to bloom later this month, the tall stalks will be groomed into a maze perfect for family fun; take a bucket of blooms home as a sweet souvenir.
McCann Berry Farm, Woodstock
Some farms diversify to bring in visitors; others just double down on their niche expertise. Such is the case with McCann Berry Farm, where they’ve been growing u-pick blueberries for nearly 40 years. The short-lived blueberry season is expected to begin by the middle of this month and continue through early August. They’re open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., but be sure to arrive early: The early birds get the blueberries!
Thompson Strawberry Farm, Bristol, WI
You can’t miss the big red barn that stands sentinel over Thompson’s strawberry fields. This fourth-generation farm offers other pick-your-own produce throughout the year, including sunflowers (July–early October), raspberries (September–early October), and pumpkins (mid-September–early October), but it’s their strawberries that they’re known for. Grown for sweetness, not size, these crimson-colored berries are ready to be picked by mid-June through July.
Goebbert’s Farm & Garden Center, South Barrington
Goebbert’s is a unique agritourism destination because it’s open for three seasons, each of which offers its own opportunities for family fun. In spring, the Garden Center bursts with new life; in fall, the farm turns into a festival grounds with pig racing, a haunted house, and more. This month, the farm’s produce takes center stage with fruits and veggies like sweet corn, muskmelons, and peaches. The farm store offers a host of edible gifts, including honey butters, salsas, and vegetable dips for the home cook connoisseur.
Picking the perfect produce can be a challenge even for the most experienced of home cooks. Here’s your guide to choosing some of our favorite, ripe produce so you’ll never have a watery melon or hard avocado again.
If you’re looking for a sweet watermelon (who isn’t?), choose one that’s uniform in size and heavy. A dull exterior (rather than shiny) means it’s ripe, and if it’s sporting an orange field spot, it will be extra flavorful.
If you need an avocado to use today, look for fruit with dark skin and bumpy texture that gives when you squeeze it. If you won’t use it until later in the week, pick an avocado with an olive-green exterior, which should ripen in two to three days.
It’s burger season, and nothing makes a burger quite like a slice of savory tomato. Look for tomatoes with glossy skin, a deep, bright color, and a dense weight. The fruit should also give a little to the touch (but not too much, or it’s overripe)
If there’s a flavor that defines summertime, it’s probably peaches. Look for dark yellow fruit with a sweet aroma. Ripe fruit should give a little when you squeeze it—just be sure not to squeeze too tightly because peaches bruise easily!
To find the sweetest blueberries, look for darkly colored fruits (purple-blue to blue-black) that are firm, dry, plump and smooth-skinned, with a silvery surface bloom. Avoid berries that look soft or shriveled or have juice stains in the container