The kick off to the market season has been a bit rainy so far, but don’t let that stop you from checking out what the market has to offer. The Urbana and Champaign markets both run rain or shine, so don’t be put off by some overcast skies. Some of the early weeks of the market season can be a bit light on vendors and produce, but by June the market has quite a bit of local produce coming in, even with the wet and cold we have had so far this season. This weekend looks to be merely overcast in the morning on Saturday, and by the time the Champaign market rolls around on Tuesday it might even be back to summer weather around here — don’t quote me though. The best thing I’ve ever heard about the weather in the central Illinois is that “if you don’t like it, wait 15 minutes and it will change.” Weather concerns aside, the markets are coming up on their second month of operation and lots of the vendors and programs that make the markets so fun are returning.
This month at the Urbana market Bike to the Market, Sprouts and Art at the Market are in full swing. June 10th will be a great weekend to visit the Market and make your own puppet with Anne Newman while listening to some live music from The Old Paints. Art at the Market features an art program and live music the second weekend of each month. On June17th, Sprouts will have a program about knowing where your food comes from. Sprouts programs run the third weekend of the month and are free for kids ages 3 to 8. These programs are really fun for kids to participate in and help kids to learn about agriculture and food. I’m a big fan of the Sprouts programs since my kids really enjoy them, and last summer one of the Sprouts programs convinced my girls to eat beets, and now they love beets. It is amazing. Read at the Market returns June 24th with lots of balloons to hand out. It is always a good day at the Market with a story read aloud by a librarian on the reading carpet (yes, they bring a reading carpet to the Market!) and a balloon to take home. This also a great weekend to sign up for summer reading programs, so check the library tent for info about that. If you haven’t checked out the summer programs at the library (Urbana or Champaign), you are missing out. There are a great number of free and low-cost programs to participate in for the summer — some of them even involve music and movies.
The Champaign market has had a few good weeks so far! If you are a regular Champaign Market goer, keep in mind that the time on Tuesday has changed to 3:30 to 6:30 on Tuesdays downtown. The time change makes it super easy to stop by after school pick-up if that is a thing that happens for you. It’s also a great time to stop by after work if you work close to downtown.
The Champaign Market is also looking for volunteers, so if you are there anyway, why not volunteer? To learn more about volunteering, visit its website. I am excited to see that the Champaign Market is introducing a kid-friendly program called Market Seedlings; this program will run the last Tuesday of each month. The Champaign market will also host chef demonstrations this month, along with theme days and special tastings. I’ve been impressed with some of the great programming that the Champaign Market does. It’s really fun and keeps things interesting.
This month at the Market, it’s likely there will be a lot of lettuce and colder weather produce available, but we should start to see some warmer weather things cropping up as well. One of the great things to keep an eye out for are plants for your own garden this time of year. Both markets have vendors that sell plants you can take home and plant to create your own garden. As we move through June, we will start to see an abundance of produce, including strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli along with other seasonal items. If you are gearing up for a grill season, be sure to check out the meat vendors as well for burgers and such.
All and all, it looks to be a great month ahead for the market! Lots of produce will be popping up, there are programs for everyone, and live music nearly each week at the Market. Finally, the markets are a great place to learn about programs in your community that you might be interested in to be sure to check out the community tents and library tents while you check out the food trucks and local produce.
Urbana’s Market at the Square
The Urbana Market is one of the largest farmers' markets and has been in continuous operation since 1979. The market runs from May 6th to November 4th each Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to noon, rain or shine.
Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. Some vendors have card readers on their smart phones. Vendors selling LINK-eligible foods will accept LINK tokens, and Urbana’s Market at the Square will match up to $20; more information is available 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.
Pets: No pets allowed. Please respect the market’s rules and leave Fido at home.
The Land Connection Champaign Farmers’ Market
The Champaign Market is Tuesday evenings from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot at Hill and Neil in Downtown Champaign.
Forms of Payment: Vendors take mostly cash, but some do take cards on their smart phones. If you run out of cash, there are ATMs close by in the Busey building on University, or at the PNC location on Main and Walnut.
Parking: Parking is available in parking lot M off of Neil Street, or in the Hill Street Parking Deck.
Pets: Dogs are welcome at this market, but must be leashed.
Photos by Jessica Hammie.