Can you believe it's August already? The weather this week has been amazing: sunny and cool. My visits to the markets this week were so pleasant. I enjoy being outside in these cooler temps, and I love seeing the summer bounty of our local farmers. This is the time to go shopping at our outdoor markets: the vegetables are plentiful, the fruit is abundant, and the vendors are practically overflowing with produce.


A busy Saturday market has shoppers in masks standing in line, purchasing goods, and several shoppers are walking down the center of the market. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The Saturday Market in Urbana was busier than I'd seen it this season, but everyone was wearing their mask even when physical distancing wasn't possible. Shoppers have been great about trying to physically distance when standing in line, waiting to select which items to buy. It seems many of us in C-U have enjoyed the nicer weather and the opportunity to shop outdoors.

There are so many great options at the markets right now. I'm always looking for locally grown fruit for my family, and there is no shortage in August for sweet produce.

Long, light green watermelons are stacked neatly on a white table at the Champaign Farmers' Market. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Melons are everywhere at the markets, and these watermelon are the perfect size for an afternoon snack. I had never seen such a long watermelon, so I asked if they were a different color inside, but the vendor assured me that the inside was red.

Three very round watermelons sit in a black tray at the Urbana Market in the Square. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The peaches are abundant at the markets as well. If you love peaches, get some now. Baskets and bags of peaches are sold at a few different vendors, and they all look perfect for snacking or peach cobbler.

Peaches are overflowing light green paper boxes on a white table at the Urbana Market in the Square. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

We love the local apples at the market, and several vendors have yellow and red apples for sale. These apples are smaller than the ones I've seen in groceries, but they don't have that waxy, chemical texture to the skin. You can buy just one, but you should probably buy a bag full.

Small red apples sit in a large black container for sale at the Urbana Market in the Square. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

You'll be able to find the usual herbs and garlic. I love how these garlic have a stem; it feels extra fancy.

Many garlics sit on a table in a pile next to other produce on a table with a blue tablecloth. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Vegetables are everywhere at the markets: purple eggplant, green beans, yellow squash, red onions, zucchini, salad greens, okra, and more.

Small, square plastic boxes hold several zucchini, standing upright in the boxes. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Greens and okra are for sale on a blue tableclothed table at the Champaign Farmers Market. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
An odd green and yellow striped vegetable is piled high in a gray tray on a table at the Urbana Market in the Square. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Small baskets are overflowing with green beans at the Urbana Market in the Square. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Pickling cucumbers, red onions, white onions, and garlic sit in gray trays on a table at the Urbana Market in the Square. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

It's no trip to the market without a stop for some carbs to go with all those healthy vegetables and fruit. Central Illinois Bakehouse offers breads and pastries at both markets. I love bread, and freshly baked bread — that I didn't have to bake — is my favorite.

Black containers hold loaves of fresh bread, wrapped in plastic cellophane, tied with little blue twist-ties. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I'm not a quitter, so after some produce and fresh bread, I also grabbed a breakfast sandwich ($6) from Piato Food Truck which is at the Urbana Market in the Square every Saturday. Piato's breakfast sandwiches are totally customizable: egg on a biscuit, and you can add cheese, bacon, sausage, or ham. I went with a cheese and sausage biscuit, and it was good, but I think I'll try the bacon next. 

A biscuit with cheese, fried egg, and sausage sits on a white plate. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

This is the time to be at the markets. Get out of the house and walk down (the one way marked route) of the market. Pick out a veggie you've never tried. Stock up on watermelon and go wild with watermelon salad, watermelon cocktails, and watermelon sorbet. Put some zucchini in your life: there's so much zucchini being sold in the markets. Grab your mask, and go visit to the markets.

Basil and lettuce lay on a table at the Urbana Market in the Square. A small sign for Sola Gratia Farm is behind the produce. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

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.

Social Media: You can follow the Market on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Sign up for weekly Market emails here.

Shoppers at the Champaign Farmers' Market in Downtown Champaign shop in the parking lot of Downtown Champaign. Buildings are seen beyond the white farmers' tents and the sky is very blue. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

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.

Social Media: Follow The Land Connection on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or check the website for more information.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.