The farmers' markets are in full swing with both markets offering delicious options for C-U shoppers. The Champaign Farmers' Market in Downtown Champaign is open every Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and the Urbana Market in the Square opens every Saturday at 7 a.m., rain or shine, until noon.

As far as mask requirements, both markets have updated their guidelines for shoppers and are following CDC guidelines regarding masking since the market opening in May. Market organizers ask that those who are not fully vaccinated continue to wear masks to the markets

Shoppers are masked and walking around the Champaign Farmer's Market. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

What's available at the market this month? A lot more than last month. Vendors have salad greens, bok choy, carrots, garlic, turnips, scallions, leeks, and more. I even saw strawberries and little cherries at the Urbana Market. At the Champaign market, vendors set up shop in the parking lot offering produce, breads, hot sauce, mushrooms, and more. All through the Urbana market, I saw stands bursting with produce, baked goods, cheese, meats, and flowers. 

On a table at the Urbana Market in the Square, there are several herbs for sale priced at $3 each. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Herbs and herb starters are available, too. You can still plant these in your garden or pot and enjoy the herbs all summer long. It's a great way to elevate your cooking and a perfect start to gardening for beginners like me. Meyer Produce is at both markets, and I picked up some herbs for my backyard. I also bought some bell pepper plants that were already bearing miniature peppers; I am excited to see if I can keep these bell pepper plants alive and enjoy peppers from my home garden — without having to start from a seed. If you too wish to pick veggies or herbs from your backyard, you can find some now at both markets.

There are four cartons of strawberries grown in Central Illinois. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There were several cartons of strawberries available at Cary's Garden of Eatin at the Urbana market. I picked up a carton of strawberries and a carton of cherries for $10, and my family enjoyed fresh local fruits all weekend. They're smaller and more tart than the grocery store variety, and they were delicious. The cherries were plump, sweet, and sour — and were so pretty in a bowl. My friend Julie said they didn't have any cherries when she went later in the day to the market, so if you're cherry hunting, go early.

On a table with white and blue checkered tablecloth, there are several varieties of bread wrapped in plastic. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Central Illinois Bakehouse is at both markets, so if you want bread, bagels, or pastries, they have it. They have lots of options including both savory and sweet, so don't be shy. Get over to the table of breads, and see if any of them look like they might be something you'd want to take home.

On a table with a black tablecloth, there is a sign in a red frame reading Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

New to the Champaign Farmers' Market, Weird Meat Boyz sells jars of craft hot sauce.

On a gray wooden box, there are three varieties of hot sauce with two of each kind. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There are three flavors available, but I tried the jalapeño-pineapple-white miso hot sauce for $10. It was the most mild one, but damn, it had a great kick. A strong jalapeño flavor, this hot sauce was thick and spicy. There was burn from the miso and hot jalapeño with a momentary acidic sweetness from the pineapple. The jar is pretty small, so you don't have to commit to a lot of fridge space. My hot sauce is practically gone, and I only got it last Tuesday. I definitely want to try the other two flavors: Malort-bell pepper and pasilla chile-chile de árbol-coffee.

The Urbana market has shoppers outdoors in the Lincoln Square Mall parking lot. Vendors have blue or white tents with tables of goods for sale. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

At the Urbana Market in the Square, shoppers were encouraged to follow the one-way route through the market. Many vendors had produce available at great prices, and the earlier in the day you visit, the more you'll have to enjoy.

On a bicycle, there is a rectangular cooler for cold brew by Nitro Cup. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I tried a cup of cold brew from Nitro Cup ($4.52) and 32 ounce brewster ($15). No eating or drinking is allowed at the market right now, so I took my cup of cold brew home. It was quite strong, and it gave me the energy to power through my weekend. The brewster is Nitro Cup's cold brew concentrate. In a large glass jar, this concentrate should be mixed equally with water. It's quite a lot of servings for $15, and we have enjoyed having this jar of artisan cold brew as an option for morning coffee at home without having to leave the house. 

On a table, there is a huge stack of white turnips. 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 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.

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

On a table, there are several bunches of bright red radishes. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

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.

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

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.