We’re a month into the outdoor market season, and I think all parties involved are ready for better weather. The cold, wet spring has been difficult for farmers; despite this, there have still been some robust produce offerings at the markets. Early this month, you can probably still find some veggie and herb plants ready for a new home in your garden.

Photo by Jessica Hammie

This month’s produce selection will certainly include more leafy greens, turnips, leeks, scallions, and you might even get a bit of asparagus before the end of the month. Green beans will start to become available, and I’ve already seen some broccoli, napini, and broccoli rabe. If you haven’t already seen the berries; they’re out there. There really isn’t anything quite like a fresh, locally grown piece of fruit. Look for strawberries in the next couple of weeks. I suggest treating yourself to a pint for strawberry shortcake, or as a salad topping. You really want to savor them because they are intensely flavorful and delicious.

Photo by Steven Pratten

In terms of non-produce items, consider trying a new baked good, or something preserved. On my last market visit I purchased a jar of lemon basil wine jelly from the Spice Sisters ($10). It was the last jar of sweet preserves; they sell a good handful of savory chutneys as well. They’ve been at both markets and have samples, which is great. The tahini dip was my favorite of the savory items and would be perfect for crudités. I bought the lemon basil jelly at Urbana’s Market at the Square, and promptly went home to try it out on a piece of toast.

Photo by Jessica Hammie

Photo by Jessica Hammie

It was pretty great! I was worried that it would be too acidic or harsh from the lemon-wine combo, but the flavors were subtle and well balanced. When I purchased it, the owner told me that it would also be nice in a savory application. “On a roasted chicken,” I suggested. “Absolutely,” was what she said, more or less. I haven’t yet tried it in a savory form, but she also said that it would make a good glaze for a pound cake. That sounds like a brilliant idea, and I look forward to trying it out on a yogurt cake I make fairly regularly. And then I can top off the glazed cake with some local berries, which might be perfection.  

Photo by Steven Pratten

The Land Connection’s Tuesday market has partnered with Champaign Center Partnership to present a business tent on the first Tuesday of the month. Different business and organizations will be on hand to share more about their missions and objectives. On the last Tuesday of the month, you can find Carle Mobile Clinic, which provides non-urgent health care to the community. 

In Urbana, the recurring programming schedule is as follows:

  • First Saturday: Chef Demos
  • Second Saturday: Art at the Market
  • Third Saturday: Sprouts at the Market
  • Fourth Saturday: Read at the Market

For those of you keeping track at home, that means Art at the Market is June 8th; Sprouts is June 15th; Read is June 22nd.

Don’t forget there are always lots of things to sample and eat at both markets — the full line up for food trucks is available on The Land Connection’s Facebook page and Market at the Square’s interactive vendor map.

The Land Connection Champaign Farmers’ Market

The Champaign Market is in its 5th year, and runs every Tuesday from May 14th to October 29th from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., rain or shine. It’s located in the parking lot at Neil and Washington in Downtown Champaign.

Forms of Payment: Vendors take mostly cash, but some do take credit. If you run out of cash, there are ATMs at First Mid Bank on Church Street. 

SNAP/LINK: All eligible vendors accept SNAP benefits through the LINK token program. Please visit The Land Connection website for specifics.

Parking: Metered parking is available in parking lot M off of Neil Street, or in the Hill Street Parking Deck.

Pets: Leashed dogs are welcome.

Social Media: Follow The Land Connection on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or check the website for more information.

Urbana’s Market at the Square Info

The Urbana Market has been in continuous operation since 1979. The market runs from May 4th to October 26th, each Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to noon, rain or shine. It’s located at the corner of Illinois and Vine in Urbana.

Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. Many accept credit. If you run out of cash at the Market, there is an ATM in the Lincoln Square Mall.

SNAP/LINK: Vendors selling LINK-eligible foods accept LINK tokens. Please visit Urbana’s Market at the Square website for specifics, or the information tent on site. 

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.

Social Media: You can follow the Market on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Sign up for weekly Market emails here.

Top photo by Jessica Hammie