Illinois at Harvest Time

September 9, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Brad Moldofsky

I am taking a brief, unpaid sabbatical from helping run the Morton Grove Farmers’ Market so I can visit some of our fellow Chicagoland Saturday markets. First stop was Green City. No doubt they’ve been mentioned countless times on this website, and I’m sure it’s all true. It’s a fantastic market. Unbelievable produce that I’ve not seen anywhere else (yellow watermelon flesh!). Oriana was there and we bought a bag of her unique Asian pears. My 12-year-old sampled wheat grass juice, which was pretty adventurous of him, even if he did spill most of it out on the ground. We came home laden with cider, peaches, elk burgers and apples, after having roamed around the Lincoln Park Zoo for a spell. Next week we’ll stop by Glenview and see how our friends at Wagner Farm are holding up.

Running the Market has been a wonderful experience. In addition to meeting neighbors throughout Morton Grove, I’ve gotten to know the farmers and other vendors. When they have a profitable week, I’m happy. When things are slow, it means we have more time to chat, and while I wish they were busier, we’re always discussing new ideas to make the community more aware of our presence. Watching their harvests change–from asparagus to corn to apples–has more than made up for my lack of a garden this year. To top it off, so many friends are enjoying the abundance of their own gardens or CSA boxes that they insist on sharing  to prevent the excess produce from going to waste.

We do have a compost box in the yard where we live. There’s enough non-edible landscaping that can still benefit from humus and the boys enjoy collecting leaves and dead grass to add to the pile. Still, I pine for my own land again. We’re looking at houses in the Morton Grove area, and I pay special attention to the neighbor’s trees. If they shade our backyard too much, I know it’s not good garden area. Some houses are dwarfed by neighboring McMansions, and while it may reduce our air conditioning bills in the summer, I’m aware of what a two- or three-story building to the south of a tomato plant can do to it in our region.

We’re almost finished with the herbs that we salvaged from our old house just before moving out. The chives, marjoram and sage went nicely with some fish we caught at Lake Julian Trout Farm. Once these bags are gone, we’ll have severed our final link to the land we owned more than a decade. Hopefully before this year’s snowfall we’ll be envisioning next spring’s planting in a brand new location.