Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom

Each year, we try to grow our farm family at Big Jones. We’re really proud of the folks we work with and the produce, grains, and livestock they supply for your table. At the same time, I’m notorious for being both loyal and thoughtful, meaning I won’t push a current supplier aside just to work with a new one, and I’m also not one to make changes without lots of time to weigh the possibilities and pitfalls that lay ahead. I have to say it didn’t take much thought for me to become eager to work with Spence Farm because they are exactly the type of folks we like to work with – they are loving stewards of their land and animals, and just as important, they care deeply about our common heritage of seeds, livestock, and local and regional food systems. I’ve wanted to work with them a long time, and finally this winter we had the opportunity to bring them into our farm family, mostly because business has been on the rise and we need more produce and grains, so we can keep working with our favorite farms and Spence Farm becomes part of our family.

One of the really cool things about Spence Farm is the Spence Farm Foundation, which seeks to cultivate our regional food system by bringing new farmers into the market and mentoring them. The tricky thing about a new farm is you need a market to sell into, but fortunately in Chicago we have a hungry and growing local food community. The question is, where to set up shop? Sean Sanders of Browntrout has put a lot of time and stock into getting a new farmer’s market into the North Center area of Lincoln and Irving Park Road, and working with Spence Farm Foundation and Stewards of the Land, the goal here is to create a market that first and foremost provides opportunities to new farmers.  A little bird told me that among the likely participants is New Traditions Farm, with whom we’ll also be working this year because they’ve demonstrated an eagerness to grow heritage crops that we see from few farmers. This will be a market to support.

The market needs money for expenses to get up and running. These include city fees, permits, logistics, and support. A fantastic group of local chefs calling ourselves Ground Up has taken charge of raising the finds to get the market off the ground. Some of us will also commit to buying from the market to ensure its success. An awesome party posing as a fundraiser is scheduled for Monday, April 9 at one of my favorite restaurants, Spacca Napoli, and you should come, enjoy some drinks by Koval Distillery and Rare Tea Cellar, and enjoy some eats by yours truly, and some of my favorite restaurants including Anteprima, Browntrout, C-House, Spacca Napoli, and more. 100% of your ticket price goes to Spence Farm Foundation to help get the Nowrth Center New Farmers Farmer’s Market up and running and continue the work of the foundation, including Ground Up, the Chefs’ working group alongside the Foundation. If we’re to continue growing our movement and change the world for a better food future, we need to expand these opportunities for farmers. Please join us for a fun evening. If you come to the event and see me there, mention that you bought your ticket because you read this on my blog, and I’ll give you a goody bag of Big Jones fun stuff you can’t get anywhere else. How’s that for an offer?