The 2021 Farmers' Market has officially begun. Last weekend, the Urbana Market at the Square opened, and the Champaign Tuesday Market begins Tuesday, May 18th. 

This is our second farmers' market season in a pandemic, so we know the drill by now. Mask up. Don't touch the produce until you've paid for it. Keep a distance from other shoppers. No eating at the market. Stay home if you're not feeling well.

If you’re new to Smile Politely, this column will run monthly throughout the market season and highlight some items and vendors you should check out.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Like last year, the markets will have a designated entrance and exit with a handwashing station for customers to use upon entry and at exit. All staff, volunteers, and shoppers will wear masks (over the mouth and nose, people). You can read more about the Urbana Market's COVID precautions here.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The Urbana Market runs every Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, at the corner of Illinois and Vine until the end of October. You can can shop from vendors serving produce, baked goods, meat, and honey.

Many familiar food and produce vendors will be at the Market: Blue Moon Farm, Central Illinois Bakehouse, Meyer ProducePrairie Fruits Farm & CreameryRegCakes Gluten Free Bakery, Seldom Home Farm, and more in addition to food truck Oh Honey Pie. Take a look at this map to see all the vendors and their locations.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Starting May 18th, the Champaign Market opens every Tuesday in the afternoons from 3 to 6 p.m. in Downtown Champaign in the parking lot at Neil and Washington until October 26th. You can shop from vendors serving produce, honey, meat, and baked goods. We have to wait a bit longer for this market to open, but you can start making plans now to get your market goods on Tuesdays in Champaign from The Land Connection's Tuesday Market.

Market shoppers who plan to use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will be able do so by bringing their LINK card to the information tent. For the 2021 season, there is a new Universal SNAP matching program, while funds last, that will match up to $20 dollars in SNAP benefits with incentives to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and/or SNAP qualified goods. These incentives can be used at either the Urbana or Champaign farmers' markets in addition to Common Ground Food Co-op for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables only.

Small square containers are lined up in rows touching each other. Some are filled with purple and green okra, and some are filled with multi-colored circle tomatoes. Photo by Jessica Hammie.Photo by Jessica Hammie.

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.

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.