It’s pumpkin season in our final weeks of the outdoor markets. We only have four more opportunities to visit the Urbana Market at the Square on Saturday mornings, and the Champaign market will be open for another three Tuesday afternoons. The last dates of the 2022 C-U market season are Tuesday, October 25th and Saturday, October 29th.
Video by Matt Fanelli.
This month, take a Saturday morning or a Tuesday afternoon to visit the markets. Stroll through the aisles of bakers, farmers, brewers, and food trucks for delicious finds. The end of season may mean less selection, but it’s the best time to show up at the market to support those providing food and drinks for our community. Buy up the last of the tomatoes, peppers, or whatever bits and bobs are for sale at the end of harvest season.
This month, eat up the last of our C-U outdoor markets’ bounty.
Buy a beef handpie ($6) from Stango Cuisine‘s market stand. I love the spicy flavor of the ground beef and the warm pastry handmade by Chef Mubanga Chanda. At both markets, the Zambian restaurant offers this beef pie, beignets, chicken pie, veggie pie, and freshly squeezed ginger juice.
Pumpkins and cooler weather are the epitome of fall vibes, and you’ll find the best selection of pumpkins at the Saturday market in Urbana. Meyer Produce has a nice selection of pumpkins on the first aisle.
If you want a pumpkin cookie, Central Illinois Bakehouse has you covered. This beautiful frosted cookie ($2.50) has a regular sugar cookie flavor, so even if you’ve overloaded on pumpkin-spice already this fall, you can still enjoy.
Find pie pumpkins and unique varieties at Diamond’s Homestead‘s table, which can be found at both markets.
Pick up some microgreens while you’re visiting Diamond’s Homestead. I usually go for the radish microgreens, but this Tuesday I bought the leek microgreens ($5) and was impressed. The leek ones had an aromatic onion flavor without the bite. Even my kids thought these were good.
If you want pumpkins of all kinds and all sizes, stop by Moore Family Farm at the Urbana Market at the Square. These mini pumpkins are $1 each and look festive as fall decorations.
While I was waiting to buy my pumpkins, I saw these huge bell peppers by the same farm and had to have some. The big peppers looked beautiful and tasted great in a salad.
It’s apple season, too, at the markets. Apples make a great snack — and an even better pie filling.
I know I’ve written about this orchard before, but I am a big fan of Weinzierl Fruit. These apples are wonderfully crisp and sweet, and I can’t get enough. This October, look for the orchard’s apple variety called Ludacrisp.
Instead of buying the apples by the box, this Tuesday I bought a bag ($20) of Pixie Crunch. The vendor said that it holds a little more than four apple boxes, so it’s a good deal if your household goes through lots of apples. Bringing the bag back to the market for an apple refill will knock off $2 from the price.
Sola Gratia Farm offers a good selection of produce. If you’re not sure what to cook for dinner, this stand is a worth a stop for inspiration. Find Sola Gratia’s Urbana-grown veggies at both the Saturday and Tuesday markets.
My newest market favorite is the lettuce from Kountry Fresh at the Saturday market. The lettuce is grown in an aquaphonics greenhouse in White Health, Illinois and is picked right before market, so it is super fresh. My sampler bag ($10) had four varieties of lettuce: romaine, butter, bibb, and summer crisp. Now that I have had a taste of picked-that-morning lettuce, I am now obsessed. Thankfully, the lettuce will be here at the Saturday market for the rest of the month (and in the winter market).
Triple S Farms has antibiotic-free, hormone-free beef, chicken, pork, and turkey for sale. The meat is sold frozen, so this month is a great opportunity to stock your freezer for the winter. I picked up bacon, chicken breasts, and a sirloin steak last weekend, and I am a fan. The chicken and steak had a great flavor and thawed easily, but the bacon? Triple S Farms’ bacon was absolutely amazing. If you have never had bacon from a local farm like Triple S Farms, this is the month to try.
On Saturdays, smack dab in the middle of the market, try Six Red Chairs Bakery. The French baker makes many baked goods, but I love the spiced molasses cookies which are made with yummy hygge spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. The spiced molasses cookies are two for $4 and taste like fall.
The C-U markets still have plenty of delicious finds. Make sure you visit the outdoor farmers’ markets this month because it’ll be a long wait for the May market opening next year.
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.