Smile Politely

Market: Strawberry Edition

Did you happen to see all the strawberries last week at the market? You had to get to the Market early, but there were some delicious baskets of strawberries. My favorite part of the market last week was seeing all opportunities to purchase strawberries and hearing Market patrons discussing which produce vendor to buy from. Oh, and the aroma of fresh, homegrown berries wafting around the Market was pretty great too. But my favorite, favorite part was eating all the strawberries I brought home. It really feels like summer in C-U, even if it is still 60 degrees some days.

It was great to see more produce vendors this past week at the Market. There was quite a selection of asparagus, lettuce, rhubarb, and herbs, along with the aforementioned berries. There were also some early tomatoes to be had. When I arrived last week, it was pretty early in the day, but the honey stand was already buzzing and the flower vendors were busy with some beautiful bouquets.  The cut flower vendors had a lot more variety this week, and there were many potted plants on offer. I noticed quite a few people walking around with very full bags of produce and flowers.

Also, the craft vendors have a lot of variety this year.  Jewelry, dog accessories, clothing, home décor items, homemade soap, candles, and candy were all available last week. I even noticed a booth selling homemade macaroons and other very yummy looking wares. I might have to investigate the macaroons a bit more this week … the things I have to do in the name of good journalism, right?

The other great thing about the Market last week was the harpist. That’s right — a harpist on the curb at the Market, playing away. I really enjoy all the great music at the Market each week, including lots of guitar playing, singing, and even the occasional accordion. The harpist last week was really phenomenal. Be on the lookout for more great music this week because I am sure there will be a lot more to enjoy.

This week, the Market is hosting a rain barrel and compost bin sale. The sale is offered by the City of Urbana in partnership with the City of Champaign and the University of Illinois Extension. This one-day sale will be held across from the Market at the corner of Vine and Green. If you are in the Market for a rainwater collection system or a composting bin for all your organic refuse, this is the week to do it! More information about this event, including an opportunity to pre-order can be found here.

Bike to the Market month also continues with extra bike parking on Walnut Street and bike tune-ups available. 

The outlook for produce is also pretty good this week. There should be more strawberries in case you missed them last week, but you’ll probably have to get there pretty early to snag some. Also, more asparagus, rhubarb, bok choy, lettuce, kale, and greens should be available. I’ll be on the lookout for some great rhubarb for pie. I might also have to bring home some cut flowers since the bouquets on offer were so pretty last week. There will also be a lot of craft and food vendors this week as well. I noticed the food trucks were doing some good business as well, and they’ll be back this week too. 

Forms of payment: Debit/Credit tokens from last year are being phased out. If you have any leftover tokens from last year, you’ll probably want to remember to bring them to the Market soon. LINK card tokens are still available. See information about LINK here. All vendors accept cash. A very select few may take checks. There is an ATM in the Lincoln Square Mall just in case you buy so much you need a few more bucks.

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.

Information: The Market provides a lot of ways to get information. You can follow the Market on facebook and twitter. Sign up for Market mail here. There is a map of the vendors here. If you want more information you can email Market Director Natalie Kenny Marquez or call her at (217) 384.2319. And check out the Market flickr for some great shots of the market each week.

The Market runs from 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday through November 2. 

Considering the forecast for this week, it seems like a good time to remind everyone that the Market happens rain or shine. Maybe bring an umbrella this week, but don’t let a little rain keep you from all the Market goodness. C-U at the Market on Saturday!

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