There's more than corn ... at your local farmers market - Metropolitan Planning Council

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There's more than corn ... at your local farmers market

I grew up in northwest Indiana, a short ride away on the South Shore Line, and as a kid, I can remember singing along to the state's unofficial theme song, "There's more than corn in Indiana!" This line is so embedded in my Hoosier subconscience that I often find myself substituting different lyrics for the same twangy, sing-song melody, hency today's headline.

Fact is, there is more than corn at your local farmers market -- in fact, there's more than local produce, artisanal cheeses, pickles, jams and pastries. There's also a community that springs up around many markets, whether sparked by market programming, such as cooking classes for kids or local music acts, or by the simple weekly gathering of people who care about supporting local business and eating delicious food.

Often, the farmers themselves form a community within a community -- not only in rural settings, but urban neighborhoods, too. This Saturday, June 19, at 2 p.m., you can tour the community within a community that is sprouting in Englewood by taking a tour of Growing Home's Wood Street Urban Farm, hosted by Chicago Public Radio. From start to finish, you'll learn how urban farms harvest, process and ultimately encourage local residents to cook with organic produce.

You'll tour the farm, taste some treats whipped up by Chef Kocoa Scott-Winbush, have a chance to talk with fellow participants and tour guides, and swig complementary beer, courtesy of Goose Island Brewery (water and soda will also be provided). Growing Home also plans to have its produce stand open for business, so you can even multi-task by making this your market trip for the week.

If you really want to make a day of it, and get some exercise while you're at it, sign up for A Fork in the Road's bike tour of urban agricultural hot spots, which will culminate at the Growing Home event in Englewood. The 20-mile bike tour will kick off at 10 a.m. from Kendall College, where you'll see and taste first-hand how chefs-in-training draw from the school's gardens. Next stop is A Tavola in the historic Ukrainian Village neighborhood, an intimate Italian eatery that, with its patio and vegetable garden, is being called one of the most charming and serene settings in all of Chicago. Then it's off to Englewood; so click here for full details and to buy your bike tour ticket now!

The event will take place rain or shine -- but the good news is my forecast predicts mostly sunny skies for Saturday.

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