August is here, and it is hot. The markets are bursting with fresh produce and amazing baked goods. Here’s what you can find this month at the Champaign Farmers’ Market on Tuesday afternoons and Urbana’s Market at the Square on Saturday mornings.
At the Saturday market, find Mileur Orchard selling tables full of peaches. Mileur peaches come in a few varieties: yellow, white, and donut peaches in white, yellow, and green plus yellow nectarines.
The stand also offers peach cider and apple cider doughnuts (six dozen for $7) and canned goods for crisps and cobblers.
At both Champaign and Urbana markets, you can find peaches from Weinzierl Fruit. The fruit vendor sells local peaches from the Weinzierl orchard with over 100 peach trees in rural Seymour, Illinois. Peaches here cost $6 a quart. Weinzierl peach varieties include Sentry, Reliance, Redhaven, Glohaven, Coral Star, Contender, and Gloria, all yellow-fleshed free-stone types. This month, find Saturn (flat) peaches, white peaches, John Boy, Bounty, and Loring.
It’s sweet corn season, too, and at the Saturday market, you can find a few farms offering corn on tables and in truckbeds. Tegeler Sweet Corn in Effingham sells ears for 75 cents, seven for $4, and thirteen for $8. Find the truck parked near the entrance of the Urbana Market at the Square.
You can also find corn from Roth Countryside Produce. The farm’s stand offers a variety of vegetables, and the sweet corn in August is a must buy. Ears of corn are $1 each here.
Tomato season is my favorite season, so I am just overjoyed by the number of tomatoes available at the market. This month, tomatoes are perfectly ripe and delicious. You can find tomatoes from more than ten different farmers. I love fresh tomatoes on everything: salads, pizza, sandwiches, toast, rice, chicken, or just salted and with a drizzle of balsamic.
This is the time of year to shop the markets without a plan and decide dinner based on what looks good.
I love cherry tomatoes roasted in the oven with some olive oil, but in August, these tomatoes taste delicious straight out of the carton, too.
Last Tuesday, I stopped by Sola Gratia’s farm stand at the Champaign Farmers’ Market, and I bought two bulbs of garlic ($3 each). The farmer said this garlic was way more flavorful than the bulbs at the grocery, and she was totally right. When I cooked with some of the market garlic, I could tell a difference in the amount of flavor that two cloves of Sola Gratia’s garlic had — and it was comparable to when I use about six cloves of grocery garlic. It had a dominating garlic spice, and I am now obsessed.
In Urbana, I visited Green G Farms’ stand at the Saturday morning market. The Villa Grove farm sells herbs, bitter melon, okra, ong choy, malabar spinach, opo squash, collard greens, onions, and noodle beans. I had to ask what noodle beans were, and the farmer told me it was like a green bean but very long. I bought a bundle in green and in purple ($4 each).
I loved the look of these noodle beans, and I was hopeful that this vegetable would be an adequate substitute for green beans for dinner that evening. Noodle beans were so much easier to chop than green beans, and the taste was almost identical to green beans in flavor and texture. I am now a noodle bean fan. If you see noodle beans at the market (and you like to eat green beans), pick up some noodle beans.
Cakes and Bakes by Kate is a new vendor at the Tuesday market in Champaign. She will be selling her homemade baked goods through October, but you really need to try her baked goods as soon as possible. I tried the cinnamon roll, handmade poptart, and a blackberry pie.
The blackberry pie ($8) was made with Meyer Produce blackberries and had an amazing buttery crust surrounding a sweet berry filling. The cinnamon roll ($3.50) was fresh and tasty, but the handmade poptart ($5) was incredibly amazing. The blueberry poptart had a shortbread cookie taste: buttery, a touch of salt, and not too sweet. Two thin layers of pressed shortbread enveloped a little bit of blueberry jam, and it was so freaking delicious. I wanted to drive back to the market to buy another!
Two Million Blooms, a small family-owned bee company in Urbana, is at the Tuesday market in Champaign selling honey. The friendly honey duo told me all about the different raw honey products they offer. On the top shelf, honey is sold in beautiful old-fashioned, glass Muth jars with a cork stopper and wooden honey dipper. Interestingly, the Muth jar is a classic honey container that has been a favorite for honey bottling since the late 1800s. Additionally, Two Million Blooms offers an inverted squeeze bottle and naturally crystallized raw honey in a straight-sided jar. The honey company also sells half combs of honey, hand-cut from the frame which is a cool way to enjoy honey if you want something a little different.
A fun stand to visit on Saturdays at the market is Ri Popped It. This woman-owned business specializes in unique popcorn flavors like dill pickle, pineapple, banana split, and more.
I tried the rainbow pebbles and the cinnamon roll popcorn. Both were great, but the cinnamon roll was my favorite because the deliciously sweet cinnamon coating covered every single piece.
I like to stop by Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery for my cheese needs. Recently, the creamery won the 2022 American Cheese Society’s annual competition in two categories. I didn’t get those two, but I bought my favorite, the chevre frais with herbs de provence because it is so good — and I tried two new-to-me goat milk products from PFF, too. The bottle had peach yogurt smoothie that I sipped as I wandered the market. It was a tasty, tangy peach goat milk smoothie. I also bought a cheese called Pelota Roja which is an unpasteurized goat milk hard cheese like Manchego — and it was a winning cheese last year in the Good Food Awards. The rind has a guajillo chile powder-olive oil paste, and the cheese has a sharp, nutty, and slightly fruity flavor. I plan to add it to a charcuterie board this weekend, but I’m sure it it would be delicious shaved on a burger or grated over some potatoes.
Urbana’s Market at the Square Info
The Urbana Market has been in continuous operation since 1979. The market runs from May 7th to October 29th, 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 17th. 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.