It is October which means we are in the last month of enjoying our farmers’ markets here in Champaign-Urbana. The markets are full of produce: veggies, fruits, and now pumpkins. This is the time to stock up on all the tomatoes and onions at the Tuesday Champaign Farmers’ Market and the Saturday Urbana Market in the Square.
Pumpkins can be found all over the market. Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head.
I picked up four mini pumpkins and one medium pumpkin for $6. There are good deals at the markets, especially if you’re like me and not yet ready for pumpkin patching. I gave my kids sharpies and let them color ghostly and ghoulish faces on the mini pumpkins. It was a fun weekend activity that bought me about ten minutes of peace and quiet.
There is no shortage of beautiful fall gourds to buy and bring home.
This is the perfect time to pick up some locally grown apples. I picked up a pound of golden apples for $2 on Saturday. I’ve been enjoying them with peanut butter, but I have ambitions to make an apple crumble.
There are other fruits available at the market: pears, raspberries, and watermelons.
Many of the vendors still have lots of beans, eggplant, squash, peppers, and tomatoes.
The market is still the best place in town to shop for produce. The outdoor markets give shoppers lots of room for physical distancing, and when I’ve attended the market this month, everyone was wearing their masks.
If looking at all the produce makes you hungry, you can also find some food that is ready to eat. At the Champaign Farmers’ Market, you can find Sugga Shaii’s Sweets.
I asked her which of the sweets was her favorite, and she told me the turtles. The turtles come in packs of three for $7, with a choice of milk chocolate or dark chocolate.
I’m not going to lie: this turtle was so good that I couldn’t share any of the three. The large chocolate disc was decadent and rich with buttery caramel inside that was clearly made from scratch. The pecans throughout gave a good crunch and nuttiness to cut the sweetness of the chocolate and caramel. I think these treats would make a lovely gift for a friend, a houseguest, or for yourself (treat yo self).
At the Urbana Market in the Square, your food truck options are fewer than the start of the market season now that Dragon Fire Pizza Truck has moved and the Cracked Truck has moved away, too. You can find Stango Cuisine serving up beignets and other grab-and-go items, Central Illinois Bakehouse, Piato To Go Food Truck, and Just BEE Açai.
I tried one of the new autumn offerings from Just BEE Açai: the Bee-yond Basic bowl ($8 for a small). The Bee-yond Basic bowl had layers of açai, autumn berry inspired chia seed pudding, and gluten free oats topped with apples, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, granola, hemp hearts, cinnamon, and pure maple syrup.
This was my first taste of açai, and I get the hype now. One bite had my mouth wondering, what’s happening? The super cold açai against the salty seeds, the chewy oats, and the crunchy goji berries was a flavor and texture combination that I’d never had before, and it was addicting. I was digging around the bowl to get bites of everything altogether. I think I’ll need to try the medium ($10) or the large ($12) next time.
The autumn offerings will be available at the Urbana Market in the Square for the rest of October, so try one of them before the season is over.
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.