October is here, and this is the last month of our farmers’ markets. Whether you’ve been visiting the markets all season long or you’ve yet to make it out (what are you waiting for?), you need to visit a farmers’ market this month.
The Urbana Market in the Square is open every Saturday morning, rain or shine, from 7 a.m. to noon outside of the Lincoln Square Mall, and The Land Connection’s Champaign Market offers Tuesday afternoon shopping from 3 to 6 p.m. in parking lot at the corner of Neil and Washington in Downtown Champaign.
What’s there to buy at the markets this month? Winter gourds, pumpkins, apples, pears, peppers, winter radishes, tomatoes, bottled sauce, meat, cheese, and more.
I walked through the markets this past week to see what was available.
If you’re looking for winter squash or pumpkins, the markets are overflowing this month.
Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
You’ll find local apples at both markets this month.
If you’re not really in the October spirit searching for pumpkins and apples, you do you. There’s a lot of great seasonal produce that isn’t one of these two fall favorites.
I stopped by Berries & Flour table. In addition to fresh Concord grapes and paw paws, there were a variety of pantry goods made from foraged items. There were different jarred jellies and jars of flavored shrubs which are old-fashioned vinegar-based syrup from America’s colonial era. The shrubs are infused with local fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. There were rim packets for adorning cocktail (or mocktail) glasses with flavored sugars on the glass rim. She also sells wild cocktail kits with everything you need except sparkling water and spirits.
I also picked up her one of the miniature cakes for $6. The flavor of the week was paw paw lime which sounded interesting. It had a banana bread texture: dense and crumbly. The lime topping was fantastic, and it reminded me of the sugary topping on my mom’s blueberry muffins. The lime flavor was vibrant, and it was obviously a lime cake. Since it was unfrosted, to me, this would be best as a breakfast cake since it was lightly sweet much like a muffin. I will try any flavor that she bakes up because I have yet to have a Berries & Flour dessert that I didn’t enjoy.
At both markets, you can find Weird Meat Boyz selling craft hot sauce, salsa, and Bloody Mary mix. The duo recently won the Judge’s Choice Award at The Land Connection’s Artisan Cup & Fork event last month.
The local hot sauce company released new items this week, and I wanted to try two of them. I bought the new hot sauce ($12) and the new salsa ($14). The flavor of this new hot sauce is made with gochujang king peppers, Korean melon, and rice vinegar. This one was so different than the other sauces they offer, and I loved the zing from the peppers and the sweetness of the melon. Both the peppers and the melon in this sauce were sourced from Humbleweed Farm, a woman-owned market garden in Champaign.
The large jar had WMBz’s fire-roasted salsa which was made with tomatoes, onion, garlic, pasilla and ancho chiles, cilantro, lime, and mezcal. This salsa was pretty good: smoky with a great lime flavor. To be honest, I think it could use a little more salt, but the chiles and tomatoes speak for themselves in this thick salsa. It’s not as spicy as the other WMBz sauces which makes this a great option for anyone who eats salsa. It’s great on tacos, burritos, chips, or even scrambled eggs. I like that the Weird Meat Boyz keep making different flavors and different products.
There is always a long line for Central Illinois Bakehouse‘s blue tent anytime I see it, no matter which market I’m visiting. But when I was there on Saturday morning, there was no line for Central Illinois Bakehouse — and so, of course, I had to stop by and pick up some bread and maple bacon cronuts.
Bagels, sliced bread, baguettes, pretzels, and more line the tables.
There are seasonal cookies, scones, and rotating flavors of cronuts. My favorite is the maple bacon cronut, and it is a great Saturday morning treat — but these spooky cookies are, too.
When I picked up some pumpkins from Sola Gratia Farm on Tuesday, I saw a sign that said they were beginning sign ups for their 2022 CSA. If you’re interested in a season-long share of produce for next year, talk to Sola Gratia Farm or check out our CSA guide from earlier this year.
Urbana’s Market at the Square Info
The Urbana Market has been in continuous operation since 1979. The market runs from May 1st to October 30th, 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 seventh year. The Champaign Market is open on Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. starting on May 18th. The Champaign Farmers’ Market will take place in parking lot M in Downtown Champaign at Neil and Washington.
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 or in the Hill Street Parking Deck.
Pets: Leashed dogs are welcome.