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Market Watch: June 2016

The first month of marketing has gone by rather quickly this year! The first couple of markets are always a bit light on vendors and produce, but by the time the last market in May comes around the market starts to feel in full swing. This year we also have the advantage of lots of market choices in C-U. The Urbana market is a perenial favorite on Saturday mornings, and the Land Connection Farmers’ Market on Tuesday evenings in Champaign is really taking off as well.  At Market Watch, we are equal opportunity market, so having a choice of markets is a nice feature for this area. I hope you will check them both out if you get a chance.

This month the market produce report continues to improve as the season warms up. Already we have had some spectacular strawberries and a few other local fruits to choose from, but the stars of the show have been the colder weather produce like asparagus, garlic scapes, lettuce, and broccolini. But now that June has arrived and the weather is a bit warmer, we can look forward to a variety of produce as the month goes on. Eventually there will be peaches, tomatoes, and other hot weather items on offer. Already the lines for berries, straw or otherwise, have been a bit long as the day goes on, so if you prefer a less crowded market I highly suggest arriving early. I also find at the Tuesday market is a bit smaller, but less crowded so you might consider that if crowd size is a factor in your market preferences.  However, the Urbana market is pretty great for people watching on a Saturday morning even if it is a bit more crowded. Food wise, I feel like it is possible to get what you need at either market, so your schedule might play more into your preference.

One of the things that is available pretty much all year round at the market is local eggs and meat.  If you consume eggs or meat, give your local producers a try.  I was quite excited to see the addition of a bison vendor, Ruhter Bison, from Murdock, Illinois, as well as favorites like Triple S and J&K Meats. For information about where to find your favorite vendors, check the vendor info linked below: 



There are also some great events to look forward to this month at the markets. In Urbana, there will be a wine tasting with local chef Jordan Baldarotta featuring wines from Alto Vineyards and Sleepy Creek Winery. The addition of local wines and beers has been a nice supplement to the market, so be sure to check out the local wine offerings on June 4th from 10 a.m. to noon. On June 11th, Art at the Market returns with local music by Matt and Tom Turino and print workshop by Noble Print Club. On the 18th, kiddos will revel in the chance to be “farmers-in-training” through the Sprouts at the Market program, including a free craft!  Sprouts is mainly for kids 3 through 8, and runs from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.  Read at the Market returns June 25th, so be sure to check the tents on the northwest side of the market (closest to Lincoln Square) for more information about the Urbana Free Library programs. And both of the markets feature live, local music each week as well, so come out and hear some local music. One of the favorite forms of entertainment for kids at the Urbana market has been “Blow it up” which features balloon animals for donations, so if you are a kid (or a kid at heart) there is always something entertaining to check out at the markets!

Urbana Market

The Urbana market is one of the largest farmer’s markets and has been in continuous operation since 1979. The Urbana market runs from May 7th to November 5th each Saturday morning from 7:00 a.m. to noon, rain or shine. No pets are allowed. 

Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash. Some vendors have
card readers on their smart phones, but I haven’t seen too many of those. See information about LINK tokens here. If you run out of cash at the Market, there is an ATM in the Lincoln Square Mall. 

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: You can follow the Market on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for Market mail here. This year market mail has included some nice seasonal recipes so it might be worth it to sign up!

And check out the Market Instagram for some gorgeous photos of the Market.

Champaign market

The Champaign market is on Tuesday evenings from 4 to 7 p.m. in Downtown Champaign. This is a relatively new market, but the vendor list has been growing steadily. Parking is available in parking lot M off of Neil Street. Vendors take mostly cash, but some do take cards on their smartphones. SNAP is accepted at this market, and for this year will be doubled up to $20 (visit the website for more info). If you run out of cash, there are ATMs close by in the Busey building on University or at the PNC location on Main Street just behind the market. To learn more about the Tuesday market, check the Land Connection’s website.

Photos by Jessica Hammie

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