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Market Watch: Season Opening, May 2023

A sunny Saturday morning at the Urbana Market at the Square, one of C-U farmers' markets. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

This Saturday is the return of one of Urbana’s most glorious recurring events: the Saturday morning farmers’ market. Champaign-Urbana has two farmers’ markets: Urbana Market at the Square in the parking lot of Lincoln Square Mall and The Land Connection’s Champaign market on Tuesday afternoons in parking lot M in Downtown Champaign.

Whether you’re new to town, new to the markets, or a market goer regular, I hope you find interesting foods to try at the our farmers’ markets from this monthly column. May is the beginning of market season, so there won’t be the full bounty of fresh produce yet, but there are still delicious things to find at C-U’s farmers’ markets this month.

Plant starts at the Urbana Market in the Square. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

Plant Starts

If you’re wanting to do a little farming, go for plant starts. The farmers already started the growing process and nurtured the seedlings to a baby plant, and all we have to do is put in a garden or a pot on the patio. For the very easiest to keep alive, buy herbs like rosemary or chives. Stepping outside to pluck herbs for dinner is a small joy that we can’t get in the winter. If you’ve got a green thumb, level up your garden with bell pepper, strawberry, watermelon, ground cherries, or tomato starts.

Check out Ben & Molly’s Farm (previously Meyer Produce) and Sola Gratia Farm in Urbana for plant starts; the two farms will be at both Champaign and Urbana farmers’ markets.

Alyssa Buckley

Lettuce and Greens

Lettuce and salad greens will be available from several farms. At the Urbana Market at the Square, my favorite lettuce is from Koss Family Farms, an aquaponic greenhouse farm located in rural White Heath, Illinois. If you see the sampler pack of lettuce, buy it because it includes several varieties: romaine, summer crisp, butter, and bibb, all in one go.

Other farm stands where you can find lettuce at the Saturday market include Moore Family Farm, Koller Family Gardens, Green G Farm, Seldom Home Farm, and Cary’s Garden of Eatin’ in Urbana.

Alyssa Buckley

Baked Goods

Things that don’t need warm weather to grow? Cookies. Croughnuts. Bread. This month, check out the bakers at the market. If you’re in Champaign on a Tuesday afternoon, you’ve got to try something by Tati’s Bakery, which specializes in Venezuelan bread. Every single bread I’ve had by Tati’s Bakery has been great, but my favorite is the piñitas Venezolanas (especially when warmed in the oven), the best yeast rolls of my life.

Stop by Great Harvest Bread, which has the most amazing egg-free chocolate loaf and delicious, big ass cookies on Saturdays. At both markets, catch Central Illinois Bakehouse‘s blue tables of baked goods; their croughnuts are amazing and so are the maple bacon cinnamon rolls.

Alyssa Buckley

Food Truck Food

You’ve bought the lettuce, but it’s ridiculous to think one would go home and prepare a salad immediately. And all that shopping? You’ve got to be hungry. On Saturday mornings, try the breakfast tacos by La Paloma or a steak burrito covered in queso from Burrito King‘s truck.

Carl Busch

Eat this beautiful cinnamon roll from Piato To Go’s truck or try out something from the Jurassic Grill truck.

What are you most looking forward to trying at the farmers’ markets this month? Drop a comment or send us an email.

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.

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

Alyssa Buckley

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 dogs are welcome.

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

Food + Drink Editor / / instagram

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