Holy pumpkins, Batman; it's September. This month, Champaign-Urbana's markets offer a taste of both summer and fall. Find the last of local peaches and sweet corn and the beginnings of fall gourds and winter squash. 

If you're still into summer, go for melons, tomatoes, and raspberries. If you're a fan of fall, there will be plenty of pumpkins and gobs of gourds for you. This month, be sure to check out Sola Gratia's lunchbox peppers or the delicious Venezuelan bread from Tati's Bakery, a new vendor at the Tuesday market.

C-U's outdoor farmers' markets run only through October, so this is the second to last month to go. Visit Urbana's Market at the Square on Saturday mornings, rain or shine, from 7 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of the Lincoln Square Mall by Common Ground. Shop Champaign Farmers' Market's produce, baked goods, Zambian cuisine, and more every Tuesday afternoon from 3 to 6 p.m. in parking lot M in Downtown Champaign.


I walked the markets earlier this week, and here's what I saw.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Sola Gratia's lunchbox peppers are just now coming to the market. I bought a pint of peppers ($3.50) from the Urbana farm, and it came in a cute basket. I liked the crisp crunch, and my kids loved the bright colors. These little peppers are tasty sliced up on pizza or stuffed with chevre from Prairie Fruits Farm

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

A new vendor to the Tuesday market is Tati's Barkery which sells Venezuelan breads on a simple table with no sign. My friend Lilly told me to try the fantastic challah bread and pan campesino, but the baker rotates his offerings each week — and neither were there earlier this week. This last Tuesday, Orlando had three types of bread for sale, and I bought a six-pack of piñitas Venezolanas rolls.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The pack of piñitas Venezolanas ($5.50), a Venezuelan sweet bread, was amazing. Tati's Bakery baked a perfect dinner roll with a sweet yeasty flavor and a spongy, soft texture. The anise seed gave a deliciously herbaceous flavor to the roll that was seriously addictive. I can't wait to try whatever bread Tati's Bakery offers next week.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

With lots of apple varieties, Weinzierl Fruit, a small farm, is a table you definitely need to visit during the month of September. Find apples like Pixie Crunch, a sweet crisp apple, or Roxbury Russet, the oldest American apple variety with a nice tart flavor. Weinzierl Fruit's apples will be at both markets this month.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

At the Urbana market, these teeny tiny tomatoes from Koller Family Gardens spoke to me and said, "Look how cute I am!" The farmer from Atlanta, Illinois told me that these marble tomatoes were pretty sweet. He was right: they were delicious mini tomatoes with a nice juicy pop.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

When shopping the Koller Family Gardens table on Saturday, the farmer handed me a bucket and said, "Load it up." Most everything from the stand was $1.50 a pound. I picked out some marble tomatoes, a giant tomato, a bundle of green onions, a cucumber, and a handful of green beans. All of the food in my bucket cost only $4. Note: Koller Family Gardens' stand is cash and LINK only.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Fulfill all your bread desires at the markets. Bloomington's Great Harvest Bread Company offers beautiful bread at the Urbana Market every other week. The bread company bakes sourdough, sandwich loaves, and (my family's favorite) an amazing chocolate bread that is egg-free and super chocolate-y.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Every week at both markets, find Central Illinois Bakehouse selling all kinds of baked goods. Pretzels, loaves, rolls, buns, croughnuts, bagels, and more line the table. My must-have item from Central Illinois Bakehouse is the croughnut. I am partial to the maple-bacon croughnut, but all of the croughnut flavors that I tried have been awesome. This month, the two special flavors are salted caramel pretzel and apple cider croughnuts made with Curtis Orchard's apple cider.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Peppers are practically overflowing on several tables at the markets. If you like spicy hot peppers, now is the time to pick up some peppers.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

My kids have become fans of farmers' market red bell peppers. To me, our local bell peppers taste a little sweeter than the grocery store's peppers. 

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

At both markets, you can see Urbana kombucha company Cloud Mountain Kombucha. The business recently won gold at the inaugural Kombucha Kup for two of their brews. Cloud Mountain has kombucha flavors like black currant, pineapple jalapeño, grape lemongrass, and more for sale at both C-U markets. I like to keep a few bottles in my fridge for nights when I want something effervescent but I'm tired of La Croix.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The produce quality is great at both markets.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

A few vendors sell tomatillos by the pound. 

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Okra won't be in season much longer, so it's a smart idea to buy okra earlier in the month while it's still available.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

At both markets, many farms sell tomatoes (for just a while longer).

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

These big watermelon are from ROTH Countryside Produce, and this Saturday is the last time to find the farm at the Urbana Market at the Square this season. WIth a truckbed of corn and lots of locally grown produce, ROTH Countryside is a great stop on a Saturday market visit. I like to bring a basket, bag, or wagon for all my purchases — especially if I'm buying watermelon.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Peach season is ending soon, so pick up peaches now. These peaches from Mileur Orchard run $7 a quart. The orchard also sells gala apples for $5 a bag, applesauce, peach cider doughnuts, peach cobbler, apple butter, and more at a table at Urbana's Saturday market.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

If you like berries, raspberries will be available for all of September. Meyer Produce offers cartons of raspberries freshly picked at both the Urbana and Champaign farmers' markets.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Flyway Family Farm sells baskets of mushrooms at the Urbana market on Saturday mornings. The farm sells oyster, chesnut, and shiitake mushrooms.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Finally, it is gourd and squash season at the market. What's the difference between a squash and a gourd? A squash is edible, and a gourd is not.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I love Diamond's Homestead's radish microgreens, but the small farm also offers gourds, pumpkins, tomatoes, herb starts, morel mushroom kits, and more at the Champaign market.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

It sure feels like fall when I see pumpkins at the market. More and more pumpkins, squash, and gourds will arrive at the market as the month continues. If you're trying to hold onto summer, just look the other way until the 22nd.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Urbana’s Market at the Square Info

The Urbana Market has been in continuous operation since 1979. The market runs from May 7th to October 29th, 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: Cash, credit, debit, or SNAP.

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 your doggo at home.

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

The Land Connection Champaign Farmers’ Market

The Land Connection's Champaign Farmers' Market is on their seventh year. The Champaign Market is open on Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. starting on May 17th. The Champaign Farmers' Market will take place in parking lot M in Downtown Champaign at Neil and Washington.

Forms of Payment: Pre-ordering, cash, credit cards, debit cards, or SNAP/EBT cards.

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 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.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.