Fall is a great season in central Illinois. Falling leaves, football, pumpkins — it’s all good. The farmers’ markets are also a great place in the fall. While the temperature is dropping, there will still be produce and plenty to do at the markets in the coming months. This is great pie making weather because it’s finally not too hot to run the oven, but there is still plenty of summer fruit. I’ve really been enjoying the peach season this year and was glad to pick up some peaches last time I was at the market, but it’s just about time for pumpkins, apples, and squash to be making an appearance. Fall is a also a great time for barbecues and other outdoor eating as the weather turns cooler, but not too cold. If you are looking for local meats and cheeses for fall dinner parties or family events, the market has plenty on offer through end of the market season. Both markets run through the end of October and will continue to have programming and events.
The Urbana market was bustling last week! It seems like a lot of UIUC new students and staff were checking out the market, as well as market regulars turning out with the nicer weather. I was very happy to see the Pandamonium Doughnut line going strong, and we learned about birds from some nice UIUC grad students. If you are new to town, be sure to check out the last row of vendors (across from the food trucks) at Urbana’s Market at the Square to learn about community resources and organizations you might be interested in.
We were a bit bummed to be running late and our favorite chocolate croissants were mostly sold out, but it gave us a chance to try some new things. My kids are really loving the Frozen/Moana tunes that the singer by Illinois Willows has been rolling out this year. Keep up the great work! The attendance at some of the programming for the Urbana market this year did seem to be in a bit of a lull, but it looks like things are picking up now that we are back to school. One thing my kids always look forward to is seeing their favorite librarians handing out balloons and stickers each month. I can’t wait to see some pumpkins and decorative gourds make their appearance this month at the market.
The Land Connection’s Tuesday market in Downtown Champaign continues to be a fun afternoon in downtown. If you are new to town this is a great place to check out the downtown area and pick up some great produce, or try some local favorites like the Dragon Fire Pizza truck. The Champaign market also has a community tent; I love the sampling tent, which always seems busy and is a great place to try new veggies without having to buy first. I also recommend trying the ice cream at The Dash ice cream cart, or a popsicle at Pop Stop before it’s too cold. We haven’t made it to Market Seedlings in a while, but it’s a fun, free activity on the last Tuesday of the month if you have kids. I was happy to catch a chef demonstration recently — I usually come away with some great ideas to implement in my own cooking. I love how this market has really become a hang out/dinner spot for people on Tuesdays. The buskers and food trucks make it an outdoor party every week — with local produce!
Urbana’s Market at the Square
The Urbana Market is one of the largest farmers’ markets and has been in continuous operation since 1979. The market runs from May 5th to October 27th, each Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to noon, rain or shine.
Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. Some vendors have card readers on their smart phones. Vendors selling LINK-eligible foods will accept LINK tokens, and there are some vendors who accept SNAP.
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 Fido at home.
The Land Connection Champaign Farmers’ Market
The Champaign Market is Tuesday evenings from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot at Hill or Main and Neil Street in Downtown Champaign.
Forms of Payment: Vendors take mostly cash, but some do take cards on their smart phones. If you run out of cash, there are ATMs close by in the Busey building on University, or at the PNC location on Main and Walnut.
Parking: Parking is available in parking lot M off of Neil Street, or in the Hill Street Parking Deck.
Pets: Dogs are welcome at this market, but must be leashed.
Photos by Jessica Hammie