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Weiss Memorial Hospital Keeps Commitment to Healthy Eating with Uptown Farmers Market on Chicago's North Side

Jun 23, 2011

Neighborhood Market to be Held Thursdays Starting June 23

For more information, contact:
Catherine Gianaro
cgianaro@weisshospital.com  
(773) 564-7285

Farmers Market at WeissCHICAGO (June 23, 2011) — The Uptown Farmers Market returns this week for its second year at Weiss Memorial Hospital, 4646 N. Marine Dr. It kicks off Thursday, June 23, and will run every Thursday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October 27.

“Being healthy starts with food,” said Terry Tuohy, director of volunteer services at Weiss. Tuohy envisioned the market—along with a rooftop farm—as a way to make a social impact on the diverse neighborhoods the hospital serves.

The first market of the season will feature seven food vendors, including fresh vegetables grown from the Weiss rooftop farm. Local organizations such as the Northside Anti-Hunger Network will also set up tables. Some of the farmers accept credit cards, and in the near future, they will also accept LINK cards.

Future markets will integrate free health screenings, informational talks from dieticians and farmers, and cooking demonstrations by local chefs. The chef from Inspiration Café, 4554 N. Broadway St., will give the market’s first demo on June 30.

Some of the food available at the Uptown Farmers Market comes from a half a block away, atop Weiss’ parking garage. The hospital has partnered with community farmers and volunteers to nurture an urban farm in the middle of a cement city. The food grown is donated to local soup kitchens and sold at the farmers market.

Volunteer Jed Schenkier at workVolunteer farmers Jed Schenkier (shown left) and Will Pool have set up 20 planter boxes around the rim of the parking garage and built 15 raised beds, which contain seasonal fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, spinach, watermelon and basil. They plant their crops using compost from food waste collected at the hospital and throughout the community; they hydrate the crops with water collected in rain barrels. The farmers also maintain an apiary of 150,000 bees, which pollinate within a 3-mile radius of Weiss.

“One rooftop garden is not going to change everything, but it’s part of a movement. We’re part of a movement,” Schenkier said.

Managing the Uptown Farmers Market at Weiss is part of the hospital’s Health for Life initiative, which emphasizes healthy living habits for people of all ages.

According to Tuohy, one on the market’s objectives continues to be educating the community children. Last year, local school children from Goudy Elementary School visited the market to learn about healthy eating, and this year park district groups also will tour the market.

“Our most pressing concern in the community is diabetes, and the first step to combating it is eating right,” Tuohy said.

The American Diabetes Association estimates 79 million people in the United States are pre-diabetic, the state characterized by higher-than-normal blood sugar levels that precede Type 2 diabetes.

“If people learn proper eating early in life,” Tuohy said, “it will make a difference, especially with pre-diabetes.”

Find out more about the farmer’s market or engage with the effort online through the Health for Life blog.