Weiss Memorial Hospital’s Rooftop Farm & Farmers Market take root in Uptown for 6th Season

CHICAGO (June 15, 2015) — The Uptown Farmers Market and Rooftop Farm at Weiss Memorial Hospital, 4646 N. Marine Dr., celebrates six years this month.Chicago’s only hospital-based farmers market opens to the public Thursday, June 25 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Since the initiative began in 2009, the farm and market have welcomed nearly 30,000 visitors, including 700 children from local schools and Chicago Park District camps. Multiple soup kitchens and food pantries receive food donations regularly, and chefs from five restaurants in Uptown shop the market. The initiative also won Weiss the 2011 Governor’s Hometown Award.

The neighborhood staple also offers free programs to meet Weiss Hospital’s healthy living goals. Hundreds of school-aged children will participate in educational experiences at the Rooftop Farm and Farmers Market this year. Nutritional, medical, and agricultural experts at Weiss will teach the kids about urban farming and healthy eating. In the fall, kids from neighborhood schools will engage in similar hands-on discovery.

The goal: To combat prevalent diseases in the Uptown neighborhood, such as obesity and diabetes. The tour groups learn about soil erosion, composting, water conservation techniques, and how vegetable seedlings in the greenhouse take root. They get to taste the fresh fruits and vegetables, too. “If we talk about healthy food choices and demonstrate how to grow your own meals in an urban environment, the hope is these children will continue this way of living into adulthood,” said Terry Tuohy, director of volunteer services at Weiss and mastermind behind the Uptown Farmers Market. Tuohy also oversees the Rooftop Farm atop the Weiss parking garage. Fifty neighborhood farmers – ages 3 to 70+ – use 75 raised beds to grow their own produce on the farm. Weiss volunteer farmers Will Pool and Jed Schenkier take the lead, nurturing the crop and coaching community members.

The Rooftop Farm at Weiss also hosts:
• two dozen chickens producing organic eggs in the chicken coop
• an apiary of 500,000 bees that produce five gallons of honey each year
• a biodiesel truck fueled by cooking oil waste from the hospital cafeteria

“Our roots are now well-established in the Uptown community, and we can see preventive care blossoming,” Tuohy added. “As an educational entity, we’ve enabled more people in a densely populated area to be self-sustaining, and we hear how it’s benefiting their overall health. We’re thrilled to see how the community that surrounds us has embraced this initiative.”

The 2015 Uptown Farmers Market runs every Thursday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 25 through October 29 at Weiss. It offers fresh fruits, vegetables, bread, honey, meat, cheese, tamales, chocolate, jewelry and soaps. Market sellers accept most major credit cards. As an additional benefit to the estimated 10,000 households in Uptown that use LINK cards, the Uptown Farmers Market also receives Illinois LINK Cards.

For more information on community tours or claiming your own plot to plant, call (800) 503-1234. You also may get updates on farmer’s market and urban farm activities through the Health for Life blog.

For more information contact: 
Weiss Public Relations
(773) 564-7285