Shopping C-U's farmers' markets is a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning or Tuesday afternoon. I like to go early before it's too hot — or before all the raspberries are gone.

This past week, I walked both markets and found new vendors like Culinary Greens, an Urbana microgreens farm, and The Little Farm of Weldon Springs which sells greens, herbs, and edible flowers. I saw pretty cakes from Berries and Flour, vibrant tomatoes from Fruitful Vines, and Watson's food truck's special breakfast menu.

There's much to love at the markets in July: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, apples, peaches, sweet corn, melons, greens, cauliflower, okra, potatoes, tomatoes, pastries, meat, cheese, bread, cold brew, kombucha, and so many green beans.

The Urbana Market at the Square opens every Saturday morning from 7 a.m. until noon in the Lincoln Square Mall parking lot, and the Champaign Farmers' Market is open every Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m. in Downtown Champaign's parking lot M.


Here is what I saw this past week at the markets. 

Baskets of orange and red tomatoes from Fruitful Vines are for sale at the Urbana Market at the Square. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Tomatoes are the perfect summer food. I picked up some tomatoes from Fruitful Vines, a small farm in Sullivan, Illinois. Fruitful Vines' primary crop is tomato. The tomatoes were perfect cut up with some Mozz and balsamic glaze. 

Green beans are in a brown woven basket for sale at the market. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I saw lots of green beans at the markets.

Four overflowing containers of green beans sit in a white shelf at the market. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There were so many green beans at the market that I felt inspired to buy some.

In a gray tub, there are a lot of green beans at the market. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

To me, green beans from a C-U farm taste better than the ones at Meijer. These market green beans are freshly picked and have a great crunch. I like to cut the stems off with scissors and then saute the beans with butter, salt, and pepper for an easy summer side dish.

At the market, there are white shelves with a few baskets of potatoes and green beans. In the background, shoppers shop the Urbana Market at the Square. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Red potatoes are in season, and I picked up a little basket. I planned to make a potato salad, but instead, I ended up chopping the spuds in half and roasting them with chopped radish. There are so many recipes for cooking with red potatoes, so if the potatoes at the market look good to you, buy a basket and figure out what to make later.

On a table, there are plastic containers with vegetables for sale. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

So much is in season right now. This month, sweet corn arrives at the market. Tegeler Sweetcorn will have a truckbed full of unshucked Illinois sweet corn at the Urbana Market at the Square starting July 9th.

In a large gray plastic container, there are heads of cauliflower. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

It's cauliflower season, too, at the market. I love how market cauliflower looks with big leaves still attached, and I especially love that it's not wrapped in plastic.

At the Urbana Market at the Square, shoppers line up to purchase fresh vegetables. One white woman carries two cabbages and is smiling. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The outdoor markets can sometimes be busy. Popular vendors have long lines, and sometimes joining that line is the best way to find your next favorite market purchase. 

On a black-and-white checkered tablecloth, there are containers of cherry orange tomatoes, blackberries, and raspberries. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Berries sell fast at the markets. This photo was taken not even an hour past market open, and there was only one carton of raspberries left at Meyer Produce. At the markets, early birds get the berries.

Under a green tent, there is the owner of Culinary Greens smiling for the camera behind his table of live mirogreen trays and wooden products for sale. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

At the Urbana Market at the Square, I found microgreens by Culinary Greens, a new Urbana business specializing in microgreen live trays. 

On a white table, there are two trays of live microgreens. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I picked up a container of Culinary Greens' microgreen mix ($5) which contained a blend of broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, arugula, and red cabbage microgreens. I loved it! The microgreens had a lot going on in such a little leaf. There was a slight bitter taste but the bright, fresh herby flavor was fantastic. I've put these microgreens on pizza, sandwiches, and salads. Even my kids like it, too.

On a lacy tablecloth, there are mini cakes for sale at the market. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

At both markets, you can find Berries & Flour selling creative baked goods by baker extraordinaire Heidi Leuszler. Enjoy miniature cake in flavors like peaches and cream, banana pawpaw, lemon elderflower, and more. The flavors rotate, but the inventive combinations of foods that Leuszler forages from Midwest prairies and forests are always tasty. In addition to cakes, Berries & Flour also sells syrups and shrubs. You can order a full size cake online or join the cake subscription club to get a cake a month. 

Under a white tent at the Champaign Farmers' Market, there is a table by The Little Farm of Weldon Springs. The table has a floral tablecloth and a small harvest for sale. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There's a new farm at the Champaign market called The Little Farm of Weldon Springs. The small farm sells fresh oregano, Swiss chard, chop suey greens, Tong Ho chrysanthemum, borage flowers, and bunches of sorrel, a leafy herb with a lemon flavor.

In a wicker basket, plastic wrapped flowers are for sale with a sign reading Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I bought a bouquet of borage flowers ($2) from The Little Farm of Weldon Springs. The farmer said borage was a blue flower that tasted like cucumber. I like cucumber, so I was sold. I served it as a garnish, and it was delish. It had a refreshing flavor of cucumber and tasted a little like watermelon, too.

In the parking lot of Urbana's Market at the Square, the Watson's food truck is parked with two white patrons waiting to order. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Watson's food truck was at the Urbana market, and I was so excited to try the breakfast menu. The truck had market specials: chicken and waffles, a bagel sandwich, bagel with cream cheese, and Cajun hashbrown bites. 

On an orange slotted outdoor table, there is a paper basket of hashbrowns and a bagel sandwich from Watson's food truck. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I ordered the bagel sandwich ($8). The sandwich had bacon, egg, and cheese inside a plain New York water bagel. It was fantastic and a perfect breakfast. The bagel was the best part: perfectly chewy and deliciously fresh. The bacon was thick, and the egg was soft and well seasoned. The cheese was melted and oozed out of the bagel — but I love a cheesy bite, so I thought that was great. The Cajun hashbrown bites ($4) were piping hot soft potato cubes with a great crisp exterior. I'm not sure I tasted Cajun seasonings, but I still liked the hashbrowns. Find Watson's food truck at the Urbana Market at the Square on July 2nd, July 16th, and July 30th.

In parking lot M in Downtown Champaign, there is a giant Connect Four game. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The Land Connection's Champaign Farmers' Market offers lots of fun (free!) activities for kids on Tuesday afternoons in Downtown Champaign. They have a giant Connect Four game, bubbles, coloring activities, sidewalk chalk, and a splash table. Every month, the Champaign Farmers' Market gives away free cooking kits with ingredients and a simple recipe for kids. This month, the Kids Kits will feature a recipe for fruity power balls, and the kits can be picked up on July 26th, the last Tuesday of the month. Compassionate Crumbs will provide the recipe.

In addition, Champaign's Tuesday market will have SNAP Ed at the market on July 5th and July 19th. The organization will run a scavenger hunt for kids around C-U. SNAP Ed is a pilot project to help families eat, move, and save. The goal is for kids and their families eat fresh fruits and vegetables (eat), visit parks (move), and learn to use SNAP dollars at the Champaign market (save). You can learn more about the U of I program here or stop by the table at the Champaign farmers' market.

In a large gray plastic container, there are many cabbage heads for sale. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

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.

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

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.

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

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.