Rare Bird Preserves Mini Market (File)

What’s better than fresh produce, delectable pastries and support for hyper-local businesses? Not much checks all those boxes. Rare Bird Preserves has mastered this combination with its artisan mini farmers market.

Starting as a small-batch artisan preserves and curd producer, Rare Bird grew out of its shared commercial kitchen and into a storefront in 2016. The Oak Park Arts District space is equipped with enough room to sell retail products and house a commercial kitchen and classroom. 

Elizabeth Madden (File)

Once the pandemic hit, workshops and classes were suspended and Rare Bird was left less accessible.  Owner Elizabeth Madden contended with these issues alongside so many other small businesses in the community. 

Relying on her connections with local businesses, Madden created a local mini farmers market intended as a spot for community members to pick up their CSA (community-supported agriculture) while enjoying a house-made pastry or coffee.

“We like to partner with a lot of different folks to highlight their businesses during the pandemic when the stores were iffy and all the markets were more difficult to navigate. Our small market was a way for people to get outside but also feel safe to shop,” said Madden. 

The market prides itself on choosing quality products from sustainably grown and responsibly sourced vendors. Featured hyper-local producers such as Mick Klug Farms, Star Farms and Publican Quality Bread are just a few. The market has also expanded to add various pop-up shops displaying flowers, house-wears and even ceramics for sale. 

“This is being part of this community, and hopefully bringing delicious food or something interesting to look at for your house. It’s an extension of our store,” said Madden. 

The mini market is held in the Rare Bird alley at 211 Harrison St. in Oak Park from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. every Thursday through October. Madden says she is “flushing out” plans on how to utilize the space for more days of the week.

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