Upcoming Dates

August 24

Monthly Board Meeting at 7:00pm at Café Chien (Business Owner #763!). Have a question for the Board? Want to see us in action? Meetings are open to all Owners — click here for directions and to RSVP please.

August 28

Our 2nd Annual Owners Meeting will take place from 2:00 to 5:00pm at the Ravenswood Event Center. We’ll report on operations, finance and progress of Chicago Market against our key goals of site, funding and Owner growth. We’ll also conduct elections for five board seats. Owners, you should have received a separate email this week with more details, including RSVP and statements from board candidates.

September 20

Chicago Market Book Club: Owner #759 Maria Rasche has organized food for the body and the soul at the next meeting, 7:00 to 8:30pm at Café Chien, 4749 N. Spaulding Avenue. This meeting will be especially exciting – Owner #523 Hillary Stifler suggested we read Chicago: A Food Biography and one of the authors, Danny Block, will join us for the discussion. Everyone is welcome but we do need a headcount, so please find more information and RSVP here.

September 24

The Chicago Market Co-op Pop-Up Market returns! Mark your calendars; this time we'll be in Roscoe Village at The Village Tap, 2055 W. Roscoe Street, from 2:30 to 5:30pm. More information and RSVP soon via email and Facebook. We can’t wait to bring Owners and local farmer/producers together again for another in our successful Pop-Up series. Tell your friends now, bring them along to show them the kind of community Chicago Market is building, and if they join between now and the Pop-Up, you’ll each get a $10 coupon to spend there.


Chicago Market is thrilled to announce that we are welcoming two amazing architectural partners to our team!

Transforming a building into the “co-op of our dreams” will require deep architectural expertise, and our Site Selection & Architecture team established a concrete set of criteria by which to evaluate potential partners. As a result, we have selected two architectural firms to work collaboratively in helping us to evaluate sites, design and build out our store.

Chicago Market Owner # 148 and writer Annette Mambuca sat down with the principals of one of these new partners, Wrap Architecture. Cheryl Noel, AIA, LEED A.P. and Ravi Ricker, AIA, LEED Associate joined her for a far-ranging discussion of co-op ownership, sustainability, community-building, responsible food production, the architectural process… and what it means to be equipment nerds.

Wrap Architecture

Chicago Market: First off, let’s establish for Chicago Market readers that you are indeed Owners.

Cheryl: We absolutely are! Responsible food production is something we feel strongly about. My sister has been an organic farmer for a long time, so we understand what goes into it from that perspective. And we especially love the co-op’s mission – particularly about giving Owners the opportunity to be involved in decision-making. We became Owners as soon as we heard about it through mutual friends of Dan Miller, who is on the Board.

Chicago Market: Your website says your firm “strives to cultivate space that embraces, encourages and empowers the people who occupy it.” Is that where the name “Wrap Architecture” came from… this desire to enfold the residents and users of the buildings you design?

Ravi: In a word, Yes. Cheryl and I both started our professional careers in community development and affordable housing, working closely to improve the quality of people’s lives through structures.

An interesting fact most people don’t know is that architects aren’t even involved in 70% of the built environment. We think it’s a privilege to give people who normally wouldn’t have access to an architect – like public housing residents – the opportunity to have a well-designed structure that is responsive to human needs. That’s one of our founding principles.

Chicago Market: That’s a perfect segue to talk about what’s in store for Chicago Market. How might the co-op “embrace, encourage and empower” its Owners and other shoppers?

Cheryl: It’s definitely not going to be just another grocery store! From the beginning, we’ve been excited about the co-op’s vision for the site to be a gathering space that’s responsive to shoppers’ multiple needs. For local quality foods, of course, but also for human contact, for meaning, for sustainability and for community.

So our approach will be “What is unique about Chicago Market, and how can we hold that vision and guide the Board and Owners through the decisions that will get us there?”

Chicago Market: That’s a huge question. What’s the starting point?

Read more!


Active Chicago Market volunteer Maia Welbel researches urban agriculture. Here’s her great little guide to some of Chicago’s farms that are open to visitors. Check one out – or post on our Owners Facebook page if you’re interested in pulling others together for a group visit!

Upon its founding, the City of Chicago adopted the official motto, Urbs in Horto — Latin for City in a Garden. This phrase has been upheld in the recent and exciting growth of the urban agriculture movement in Chicago. The city has established itself as a leader in using urban farming and gardening as a mechanism for social activism, sustainable development, improved food access, and economic advancement. Strolling through one of Chicago’s neighborhoods, chances are you will come across a community garden or a bountiful patch in someone’s yard. But if you want to learn more about how some organizations are making a difference by growing fresh, healthy food in our garden city, these urban farmers would love to show you around. Click on the name of the farm to get to their website for more information.

Urban Farms map

Growing Power runs urban farms in Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison. Their mission is to transform neighborhoods through community food systems. They offer on-site workshops and demonstrations focused on growing methods, and run educational outreach programs for adults and children, as well as producing and distributing healthy, affordable food.

Tours offered at Iron Street Urban Farm Tuesdays at 1:00pm, Thursdays at 1:00pm, and Saturdays at 10:00am and 1:00pm. Fee of $10 per person.

The Talking Farm is committed to sustainable food production, education, and green urban development. They collaborate with local businesses, civic organizations, and educational institutions. Produce grown on the two-acre Howard Street Farm is distributed to local restaurants, food pantries, farmers markets, schools and individuals. They also run educational gardens at schools throughout Chicago.

The farm offers workdays each month when visitors can work for a few hours while learning about horticulture and the organization. Workdays are open to the public and require no prior registration, but visitors must sign a waiver.

Growing Home operates two farms in Englewood and they are the only USDA-certified organic high-production urban farms in Chicago. They provide farm-based training for people with employment barriers, promote healthy community development in underserved neighborhoods, and help people build sustainable life-long careers.

Tours must be requested two weeks in advance and are not offered on weekends. Fee of $10 per person for groups of five or more visitors.

The Plant Chicago is a shared production space located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, which aims to develop circular economies of food production, energy conservation, and material reuse. Their mission is to empower people and businesses to operate more sustainably and self-sufficiently through community-driven programming. The space houses various tenants, who produce small batch coffee, gourmet mushrooms, kombucha, fresh produce and other items, all of which are sold on-site at their farmers market.

Public tours are every Saturday at 2:00pm, and on market days at 11:30am. These include viewings of tech demonstration projects including the algae bioreactor and aquaponics farm. Fee is $7 for students and seniors, and $10 for adults. Private group tours can also be arranged. Contact [email protected].

Windy City Harvest is the Chicago Botanic Garden’s urban agriculture education initiative. The program offers training and educational opportunities to teens and adults, with an emphasis on empowering those with barriers to employment. They manage farms throughout the Chicago area; training and production headquarters are at the Arturo Velasquez Institute, a satellite campus of Daley College.

Tours are offered on Fridays at 11:00am and 12:15pm at the headquarters location where visitors can tour the greenhouse, hoop house, aquaponics system and growing beds. Register here in advance. Fee of $7 for students and $10 for adults. Group tours can also be arranged at six different farm locations; email [email protected].

Metropolitan Farms is a commercial scale, closed loop aquaponic farming operation in West Humboldt Park. The farm grows herbs, lettuce and fish year-round.

Public tours and events are regularly scheduled. Pre-purchasing tickets is recommended; fee of $15 per person.

City Farm is part of The Resource Center, a nonprofit environmental education organization focused on finding uses for overlooked resources. City Farm transforms vacant lots in Chicago into gardens, utilizing intensive recycling and reuse methods to minimize and reverse resource waste. By integrating education, energizing local economies, and beautifying neighborhoods, City Farm works to improve quality of life in Chicago one chemical-free plot at a time.

Tours are offered Wednesday and Saturday through Monday. Contact [email protected] to schedule. Fee of $5 per person.

Co-Op Conference Update

One of the seven international values that Chicago Market subscribes to is known as Principle 6 or “P6”: Co-operation Among Co-operatives. P6 holds that co-ops are strongest and most effective when they work together, through local, regional, national and international structures. Grant Kessler, Chicago Market Owner #3 and our Board President, attended two gatherings of regional food co-ops recently, and had a chance to share and bring back valuable learnings for our team. Here’s his report.

Starting a food co-op is hard work…for lots of reasons, but among them is knowledge and resources. If, say, you were a large grocery store chain and you wanted to plunk a new store down somewhere, you’d have the capital, the previous knowledge, and the employees at hand to easily pull it off.

In place of most of those things, startup co-ops have values-driven volunteers and Owners. Super cool, but there is a lot of knowledge and resources lacking in that model. Enter the helpful folks in the co-op world like CDS Consulting Co-op and Food Co-op Initiative (FCI).

Co-Op Conferences

Cooperative Board Leadership 101

CDS Consulting is a cooperative of consultants who “specialize in co-op governance, leadership development, expansions, retail improvement, marketing, member services and human resources.” In addition to their direct consulting services, they periodically offer one-day workshops in board leadership development, and Karen Jacobs and I recently attended one they held in Chicago called CBL101 (Cooperative Board Leadership 101). What did I learn? For starters, I learned that an effective Board needs to devote time to building skills and wisdom. Karen and I took extensive notes and shared with the team, and we have each committed to giving a short presentation about one topic we covered, at a future Board meeting.

Presenters Ben Sandel and Todd Wallace gave us a fascinating overview of co-op social and economic history beginning with the Rochdale co-op in 1840’s England. Check out this video for a fun little history of the “Rochdale Pioneers.” And did you know that in the 1930’s the Consumer Cooperative Trading Company in Gary, Indiana ran several African-American owned businesses, including a filling station, a credit union and an ice cream and candy store that taught children about small business and economics?

Read more on our blog


Coffee and Conversation

Chicago Market hosted a Coffee & Conversation session at Sulzer Library on July 5 to talk with Owners and supporters about our site selection criteria, process and progress toward the goal of opening our co-op store doors.

Click here to visit our blog and read a report on the meeting, written by board member and Owner #43, Karen Jacobs. Our appreciation goes out to the many Owners and other co-operators who joined us and shared their energy, questions and ideas. We also thank board members Mike Sullivan, Malcolm Haar, Emily Crespo and Jen Vest; Site Selection team member Bill Petty; and architects Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker of Wrap Architecture for being active contributors to a thoughtful and open conversation.


It’s that time of year – tomatoes and cucumbers, peppers and fresh herbs are everywhere in our gardens and at the farmers market! This recipe, adapted from “The Silver Palate Cookbook” is an easy way to enjoy the taste of summer.

  • 1/2 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 c. EVOO olive oil
  • 1 3/4 c. tomato juice (canned, bottled or fresh)
  • 6 tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with their juice
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped (red if you want brightest soup color, but yellow, green or orange will taste just as good)
  • 3 cucumbers, coarsely chopped
  • 2 shallots, peeled and minced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 c. fresh sweet corn – kernels sliced fresh off cob, or boiled first for 1-2 minutes
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh dill or cilantro (your preference)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Summer Gazpacho

In one bowl, whisk vinegar, olive oil, tomato juice together.

In a separate bowl, combine tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, shallots, onions, jalapeno.

Use a food processor or blender to puree half of the liquid mixture with half of the vegetables – leave a little bit chunky for “crunch” in the gazpacho. Repeat with the remaining half liquid/half vegetables. Combine all together, and add corn, herbs, salt and pepper to taste.

Chill for a few hours.

Optional serving ideas: croutons, a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt, fresh sliced avocado.