This weekend, the Market is hosting a very special event in conjunction with the Eastern Illinois Foodbank to help local children and their families have increased access to healthy, fresh produce. The Eastern Illinois Foodbank serves many local people who struggle with food insecurity by providing over 51,000 meals a month to men, women, and children in the local community through partnerships with food pantries, local agencies, and special programs. Learn more about the foodbank here.

The event is called BUY ONE, DONATE ONE, and the Foodbank and the Market are hoping that Market patrons will buy a few healthy produce items to donate. It is super easy to donate: Just attend the Market at your usual time (or come check out the Market for the first time!), buy whatever local produce you like to take home and a little extra to donate, then donate the extra to the Foodback at the tent in the northwest corner of the Market. It really could not be easier at all! Learn more about this great event here.

The Farm to Foodbank program encourages producers and patrons to donate excess produce to those in need. Last year, approximately 13,569 pounds of Market produce was donated to area food pantries, mostly by Market producers. This year, the Market is hoping that patrons will want to get in on the action too!

Please do consider donating what you can to this excellent event, as it helps many in need in our community. You don’t have to donate a lot to make a big difference, especially if we all work together to donate what we can!

This week, the Market will be bursting at the seams with freshness! Did you happen to snag a few of the early peaches last week? Well, if not, there will likely be more this week. Also, there were a few little containers of raspberries last week and I am betting on seeing a lot more of those this week, too. The weather has gotten hot and muggy, and the berries are loving it. There will also be early carrots, cabbage, kale, lettuces, garlic scapes (delicious!), sugar snap peas, and so much more! Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for peach “seconds,” which are bruised or perhaps a little overripe, but make truly excellent peach pie and jam.

There will also be a wide variety of vendors with prepared foods. While I was wandering around last week in search of peaches, I inadvertently ended up bumping into a line of people who were waiting for something called a “chocolate overdose” doughnut. I didn’t get a chance to get one, but will definitely have to see if I can beat the line soon and report back. With a name like "chocolate overdose," it can’t be bad.

There are also cookies, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, bread, gluten-free baked goods, pulled pork sandwiches, and take-home for dinner casseroles. And don’t forget about the kettle corn, food trucks, and ice cream!

The flowers at the Market have been especially beautiful the past couple of weeks and this week should be no exception. Lilies are in season and both cut and potted lilies were everywhere at the Market last week. If you need a bit of floral cheerfulness for your home or your yard, the Market has a great variety to choose from. 

There are a few other special events coming up soon that may be of interest to Market-goers. On Saturday, July 6, there will be a Sprouts at the Market special event called EAT YOUR COLORS. For more information about this event, click here. And on July 13, Community Blood Services will be back at the Market for a blood drive from 8:00 a.m. to noon. For more information about the blood drive, see here

Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash and a few may take checks. Some vendors have card readers on their smart phones, but I haven’t seen too many of those. See information about LINK tokens here. If you run out of cash at the Market, there is an ATM in the Lincoln Square Mall.

Parking: Free parking is available in the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Square Mall and the lot south of Illinois Street. Bike parking is also available at the entrances to the mall and at the bike corral area past the entrance to the Market off of Illinois. 

Information: You can follow the Market on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for Market mail here. There is a map of the vendors here. If you want more information, you can email Market Director Natalie Kenny Marquez or call her at (217) 384-2319. Check out the Market flickr for some excellent photos. 

The Market runs from 7:00 a.m. to noon every Saturday through November 2. All events are scheduled rain or shine. Come check out all the healthy produce the Market has to offer and maybe even donate a few items if you can!