September marks month five of Champaign-Urbana’s outdoor farmers’ market season, which runs through October. Have you made it out to the markets this year? Get your basket and canvas bag to the Tuesday and Saturday markets because right now, it’s the best of both summer and fall harvests.
It’s still tomato season; find little cherry tomatoes, big beefsteak ‘maters, and a whole tomato rainbow: red, orange, yellow, Black Krim, and Cherokee purple. Summer bounties of peppers, onions, potatoes, and squash are at the both markets, and it’s now time for the debut of pumpkins and fall apples. Peaches and corn will be available through the middle of the month, so get after those while we still can. Savannah Ridge, the Vermilion County Tibetan yak farm, returns to Urbana’s Market at the Square this September, and Tati’s Bakery will be at the The Land Connection’s farmers’ market every Tuesday this month (go for the piñitas Venezolanas).
Here’s a peek at what’s good at the markets for September.
Peach season will only last a little longer, and Mileur Orchard peaches are it. The baskets cost $7.50, and I love cooking sliced-up summer peaches up in a pan with some butter and cinnamon-sugar.
I also bought a Mileur peach crisp ($7.50), and it was awesome. The dessert’s crumble topping had a delicious balance of sugar and salt with a nice, chewy texture from oats. The Murphysboro peach stand also sells peach cider dougnuts, peach cobbler, peach butter, and peach jam.
Ope, did you say you wanted garlic, too? It’s an odd thing to buy at a peach stand, but Mileur Orchard also has big bulbs of garlic for $1 each.
Pumpkin season begins this month. The markets have big ones, small ones, and some as big as your head.
From the table of Feel Good Flour bakery, I bought a few goodies, but this blackberry galette ($4.50) was the best. The pastry tasted buttery and delicate, crumbling and flaking as I ate it. Not overly sweet, the concentrated sweetness of the berry center was balanced by the salty pastry.
I really liked this galette, and what’s absolutely crazy is that it was vegan! Everything by Feel Good Flour is dairy-free and egg-free. The vegan baker makes croissants, bread pudding, cookies, granola, scones, and more for both markets. Whether you have dietary restrictions or not, this table is a must try.
A colorful new booth at the Urbana Market at the Square is Leeyah-Symone’s Lemonade Stand, which sells lemonade and pink lemonade.
Two Saturdays ago, I bought a squeeze bag ($3) and a small bottle ($3) of the pink lemonade. Made with cane sugar, the lemonade tasted sweet and refreshing. Both of my kids loved the pink lemonade, and I imagine anyone who likes lemonade will like the drinks by Leeyah-Symone.
This month, watermelon is in season. I love the juicy yellow watermelon by Ben & Molly’s Farm. The seedless variety tastes just like regular red watermelon but sweeter. If you’re not ready to level up to yellow watermelon, the OG red ‘melon is available as well.
If you like mushrooms, check out the Middle Fork Mushroom Company, which offers gourmet and medicinal mushrooms grown in Paxton.
Find okra at the Saturday market on the tables of a few farms: Twin Acre Farms, Sola Gratia, Seldom Home Farm, and Ben & Molly’s Farm.
Central Illinois Bakehouse had a new set-up at the Urbana farmers’ market. Instead of waiting in a (sometimes very long) line, telling the staff what you’d like, and then waiting to pay, shoppers can go behind the tables, pick out breads themselves, and then go the cashiers. It was cool to pick out which maple-bacon croughnut I wanted (the one with the most bacon bits), and I ended up browsing long enough for an impulse buy of sourdough bagels, which I toasted and enjoyed with spread of Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery chevre.
If you want a heads up on which vendors will be at the Tuesday market each week, check out The Land Connection’s market map. Same for the Urbana Market at the Square; the organizers update the site with which vendors will be there and where exactly to find them at the market.
The last Saturday I was at the market, I spotted the owner of Cloud Mountain Kombucha at the Saturday market buying peaches for their new kombucha flavor. It was pretty much a moment right out of Beauty and the Beast, so if you’re searching for a quaint and delicious experience, add a stop to C-U farmers’ markets this September.
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.