The Champaign-Urbana farmers markets are fun outdoor shopping spots for fresh produce, delicious baked goods, and all kinds of drinks from kombucha to cold brew to fresh-pressed juices. The Saturday market is a busy, bustling place to be — even at 7:05 a.m. — in Urbana’s Lincoln Square Mall parking lot, and the Tuesday market is a smaller, more casual market in Downtown Champaign.
Henceforth, I’m officially declaring this June: the Month of Market Sips. At both of the Champaign-Urbana farmers markets, find so many tasty drinks — and not one of them alcoholic.
Try the made-in-house ginger juice from the Stango Cuisine table at the Saturday Urbana Market at the Square.
Enjoy some fresh-pressed juice by JuicyU on a Saturday morning. Since opening in January, JuicyU has served flavors like apple, beet, celery, grapefruit, and pineapple, plus juices called fire, water, earth, and air, too.
For cold coffee, stop by the bicycle coffee shop Nitro Cup. The nitro cold brew is sold by the cup for wandering the Urbana market, or by the jar for those who want to drink Nitro Cup all week long.
For another drink option, check out Cloud Mountain Kombucha, which sells award-winning kombucha by the bottle. If you haven’t tried the Urbana kombucha bar’s brews, try free samples and chat with the ‘booch staff at both Champaign-Urbana farmers markets. I’m addicted to the Autumn Mary, a sour-savory brew with celery juice and peppercorns that reminds me of a Bloody Mary, but I’m a fan of the new apple, lime leaf, and mint flavor, too.
One of the most charming market sips you can have is the free water by Berries & Flour. Heidi Leuszler, the forager and baker of Berries & Flour, usually serves ice cold water with some interesting twist for the market. Stop by the booth for the water, but buy one of her mini cakes made with foraged ingredients. This week, I bought her caramel pear thyme cake, and it was super tasty — and vegan!
BakeLab bakery and its sister business BrewLab coffee shop are now at the Urbana market every week, selling yummy sips of cold brew, hot drip coffee, and flavored tea like mango black tea alongside their freshly-made baked goods. Since the booth is near the parking lot, BakeLab and BrewLaw make a good first or last stop.
In this Month of Market Sips, there are plenty of market finds to pair with drinks.
Spot local strawberries at the tables of a few farmers around the markets. Berries sell out fast, so get there right at market open to guarantee you’ll leave with some.
For the very first time, the French baker of Six Red Chairs will serve the New York roll this weekend at the Urbana Market at the Square. A New York roll is a circular filled croissant with frosting, and I will be in line Saturday to get mine. She’ll have two options: Nutella or pistachio. The best thing I’ve eaten from this little stop is the cinnamon kouign amann (which I’ve written about here and here), but I’m a sucker for the thick chocolate chip cookies, too.
DuChick Ranch of Cissna Park, Illinois is a new vendor at the Urbana market. The ranch sells poultry and fresh eggs. If you’re planning ahead for Thanksgiving, you can even put in a turkey order this month. The chicken I bought ($9.50 a pound) was frozen solid, but after 3 days of thawing in my fridge, it was ready to cook and tasted great alongside market asparagus.
There’s also yak meat at the Saturday market sold by Savannah Ridge, a Vermilion County family farm. The farm raises grass-fed Tibetan yaks without steroids, antibiotics, or growth hormones. I signed up to be alerted when ribeyes and filets are available in August or September, but the business is selling ground yak steakburgers if you want to try yak this month.
Urbana’s Market at the Square Info
The Urbana Market has been in continuous operation since 1979. The market runs from May 6th to October 28th, 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.
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 16th. 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 doggies are welcome.