It seems like fall is in the air. The nights are cooling off and it’s so nice to get a break from the summer heat. School is back in session and pumpkin spice madness is about to commence any day. Regardless of your feelings about the impending pumpkin spice take over, fall is a great time to visit the markets. Produce is still at top production, and September is the last hurrah before some of the market programming ends in October. As a reminder, the Champaign market runs through October 31st and the Urbana market runs until November 4th. The other great thing about the change to fall at the market is that it’s finally cool enough for pie — so check out the local vendors for ingredients to make your own, or pick up a ready-made pie that you can warm up and claim you made. I won’t tell anyone.
One new feature of both markets this month is an eat local September challenge. Sign up for the challenge and you get a free tote bag. There is also a raffle to take home some cash and chances to learn about promotions from local vendors. But what is the challenge you ask? Spend $20 a week at the markets during September and help local farmers make it through the winter. Most market goers already spend $20 or so a week, so a bonus free tote bag sounds good to me. More information about the challenge is available here.
<span 0.875em;"="">This month at the markets be on the lookout for apples to finally be in season. Peach season will be wrapping up, so if you are wanting that last sweet peach, be sure to look this week. I overheard a conversation at the market this week in which a patron was asking about a sign that advertised “peach seconds,” which is a great thing to know about. Seconds of any fruit are those that aren’t pretty enough to sell, or have a few bumps or bruises. While these aren’t great to buy for eating, they make great (and cheaper!) pies, jams, and tarts. Also, this month pumpkins may make an appearance, along with gourds and all the fun ugly vegetables you could want for decorating your porch (or apartment or desk). September is also a great time for lettuce and other colder weather veggies to re-surface at the market. If you have plans to grill out in an attempt to hold onto summer as long as possible, it’s also a great time to stock up on local meats for fall block parties or a “just because I felt like it” barbeque. I also highly recommend picking up some goat milk gelato, as you may have a fair chance of getting it home before it melts this month.
At the Urbana market this month, all of the regular programming will run. The second weekend in September, Art at the Market will host a performance by the Urbana Fine Arts Center, and a doll making craft. On September 16th the Sprouts program will have a market clue hunt for kids ages 3 through 8. This is free for kids in that age range and it is really fun for kids and really fun to watch. And Read at the Market continues on the fourth Saturday of the month. This is a great time to get kids signed up for reading programs or classes at the library as we shift back into school mode.
The Champaign market will also have events this month including Market Seedlings programs for kids and many chef demonstrations to check out. Also if you aren’t following the Champaign market on Instagram, you are missing out. There is an official market puppy named Bruce Wayne and more, so check it out for contests and fun and much vegetable related humor.
Urbana’s Market at the Square Info
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 through October 31st.
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.
All photos by Jessica Hammie.