Can you believe it’s August already? The weather this week has been amazing: sunny and cool. My visits to the markets this week were so pleasant. I enjoy being outside in these cooler temps, and I love seeing the summer bounty of our local farmers. This is the time to go shopping at our outdoor markets: the vegetables are plentiful, the fruit is abundant, and the vendors are practically overflowing with produce.
The Saturday Market in Urbana was busier than I’d seen it this season, but everyone was wearing their mask even when physical distancing wasn’t possible. Shoppers have been great about trying to physically distance when standing in line, waiting to select which items to buy. It seems many of us in C-U have enjoyed the nicer weather and the opportunity to shop outdoors.
There are so many great options at the markets right now. I’m always looking for locally grown fruit for my family, and there is no shortage in August for sweet produce.
Melons are everywhere at the markets, and these watermelon are the perfect size for an afternoon snack. I had never seen such a long watermelon, so I asked if they were a different color inside, but the vendor assured me that the inside was red.
The peaches are abundant at the markets as well. If you love peaches, get some now. Baskets and bags of peaches are sold at a few different vendors, and they all look perfect for snacking or peach cobbler.
We love the local apples at the market, and several vendors have yellow and red apples for sale. These apples are smaller than the ones I’ve seen in groceries, but they don’t have that waxy, chemical texture to the skin. You can buy just one, but you should probably buy a bag full.
You’ll be able to find the usual herbs and garlic. I love how these garlic have a stem; it feels extra fancy.
Vegetables are everywhere at the markets: purple eggplant, green beans, yellow squash, red onions, zucchini, salad greens, okra, and more.
It’s no trip to the market without a stop for some carbs to go with all those healthy vegetables and fruit. Central Illinois Bakehouse offers breads and pastries at both markets. I love bread, and freshly baked bread — that I didn’t have to bake — is my favorite.
I’m not a quitter, so after some produce and fresh bread, I also grabbed a breakfast sandwich ($6) from Piato Food Truck which is at the Urbana Market in the Square every Saturday. Piato’s breakfast sandwiches are totally customizable: egg on a biscuit, and you can add cheese, bacon, sausage, or ham. I went with a cheese and sausage biscuit, and it was good, but I think I’ll try the bacon next.
This is the time to be at the markets. Get out of the house and walk down (the one way marked route) of the market. Pick out a veggie you’ve never tried. Stock up on watermelon and go wild with watermelon salad, watermelon cocktails, and watermelon sorbet. Put some zucchini in your life: there’s so much zucchini being sold in the markets. Grab your mask, and go visit to the markets.
Urbana’s Market at the Square
The Urbana Market has been in continuous operation since 1979. The market runs from May 2th to October 31st, 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: Credit, debit, or SNAP is preferred. Cash is accepted, but vendors may not provide change to reduce the spread of the virus.
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 sixth year. The Champaign Market is open on Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.. The Champaign Farmers’ Market is at their regular location in parking lot M at Neil and Washington in Downtown Champaign.
Forms of Payment: Pre-ordering, credit cards, debit cards, or SNAP/EBT cards are preferred. Cash will be accepted, but vendors will be instructed not to provide change.
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 off of Neil Street, or in the Hill Street Parking Deck.
Pets: Leashed dogs are welcome.