LINCOLN PARK — Green City Market’s executive director, who led the farmers market in launching an online delivery service when the pandemic began, will leave her role when the market’s summer season ends.
Melissa Flynn, who has led the popular farmers market since 2015, created the Green City Market Edible Education program, which teaches cooking and gardening skills to students in Chicago. The program will continue through the pandemic with at-home recipes and activities instead of classroom lessons.
Flynn also helped launch the market’s donor-funded Link-matching program, which doubles the purchasing power of people experiencing food insecurity.
Flynn is leaving Green City Market after Oct. 31 to pursue new opportunities in urban agriculture and youth education.
Mandy Moody, who’s been director of development at the market for 14 months, will take over as interim executive director while a national search for a leader is underway.
“We’re ending [Flynn’s] time with the market similar to what she’s done all throughout her time, even in a position of strength [before the pandemic], which is to keep building it up,” Moody said.
Moody said when the market was closed down in March due to the pandemic, Flynn helped the team quickly pivot by launching its GCM Delivered app, a home delivery or pickup program that connects farmers with about 7,000 people across Chicago.
The app averages about 250 deliveries each week, Moody said, but the farmers market expects to do 500 weekly deliveries or more when the outdoor season ends.
“It’s giving farmers access to new customers who have never been to our physical marketplaces in Lincoln Park and the West Loop,” Moody said. “But it’s also been a crucial service for people who need safe ways to get nutritious food delivered to their doorstep.”
Moody said “week in and week out,” customers have thanked Green City Market for the “just knowing they have the deliveries to rely on.”
The market is also working with farmers to see if it’s possible to extend the outdoor market through November for the fall season.
“Our home delivery program simply can’t reach the number of people that our physical marketplaces do, so extending that season will give our farmers more time into the fall months,” Moody said.
But the market is in need of critical funds to support these programs after incurring unexpected costs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The annual Chef BBQ, which is Green City Market’s biggest fundraiser, was canceled, so “donating to the market is really critical right now,” Moody said.
“The future of local food is in the hands of our community, so when you support our Green City Market vendors, you’re ensuring those farmers’ livelihoods,” Moody said.
Green City Market’s outdoor marketplaces are open Saturdays in Lincoln Park, at North Clark Street and North Lincoln Avenue, and the West Loop, 115 S. Sangamon St., through Oct. 31.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.