So much is in store at the market for August! National Farmer’s Market week is August 3rd through 9th, and there are a bunch of fun activities planned this month to celebrate the ongoing success of farmer’s markets in the U.S. To learn more about this event across the country, check out the USDA’s blog. Urbana’s Market at the Square has been going strong for 35 years, and is only one of the more than 350 markets in Illinois. The Urbana market does a great job of showcasing all the local area has to offer in terms of local produce, meats, dairy and crafts. One of my favorite parts of the market is that it is a producer-only market, so all the produce, meat, and dairy comes from local farms, not from wholesalers. You will never see a wholesale produce truck at the market because the local area actually produces more than enough for the market!
This month the market will have an Art at the Market event, a Sprouts event, a blood drive, and a visit from the mayor. On August 9th, in honor of National Farmer’s Market week, the market will host a visit from the mayor and give away market freebies at the northwest corner of the market. If you haven’t got anything with a bird on it, arrive early and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to take home an item with the market’s signature bird on it! Also on the 9th, Art at the Market returns with a veggie stamping event. If you’ve ever wondered how to make a stamp out of a potato, don’t miss this fun event. Art at the Market workshops run from 8 a.m. to noon. There will also be a performance by Rebecca Rego and the Trainman from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. If you like songs about trains, you won’t want to miss this fun performance. Visit the market’s webpage to learn more about Art at the Market. The monthly blood drive will also be on August 9th, so if you are able to donate you will want to mark your calendar. This monthly event provides much needed blood for our local community. To learn more about donating, visit Community Blood Service’s website.
On August 16th, Sprouts at the Market will return with a workshop called “make my plate local” presented by the Champaign- Urbana Health Department. To learn more about this fun event, visit the Sprouts website.
The real star of the market this week, though, are the beautiful heirloom tomatoes that have been popping up at many of the vendor stands. Heirloom tomatoes are grown from heirloom seeds that often have been around for generations. These tomatoes don’t look like the uniform round, red tomatoes that you see in the supermarket, but they taste so much better! Often called “ugly” tomatoes because they are bumpy, lumpy, and lots of strange colors, they are worth a try if you haven’t had one just for the stronger tomato flavor they add to all your tomato dishes.
Tomatoes aren’t the only thing to look for at the market this week though. Produce season is in full swing in Central Illinois, so there are so many things to choose from: peaches, blueberries, blackberries, okra, zucchini, and kale are just the beginning of what the market has to offer. As usual, there will also be local meat, dairy, baked goods, and crafts.
Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. There is an ATM in the Lincoln Square Mall just in case you buy so much you need a few more bucks. LINK card tokens are still available; see information about LINK here.
Parking: Parking is available in the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Square Mall and the lot south of Illinois Street for FREE! 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.
Information: The market provides a lot of ways to get information. You can follow the Market on facebook and twitter. Sign up for Market mail here. There is a map of the vendors here. If you want more information, you can email Market Director Natalie Kenny Marquez, or call her at 217.384.2319. Check out flickr for some great photos from the market each week. The market also has instagram; you can follow the feed here.
Pets: The market doesn’t allow pets, so leave your furry friends at home. But there are plenty of places to pick up a special treat for your pet at the market so they don’t feel left out.
The Market runs from 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday through November 1st. All events are scheduled rain or shine.
Cover photo courtsey of Jessica Hammie. Article photos from Facebook.