C-U’s Tuesday and Saturday outdoor markets continue every week. The markets are bursting with Illinois-grown produce, locally baked goods, and more. This June, find leafy greens, broccoli, garlic, turnips, scallions, green beans, and leeks in addition to strawberries and cherries. Shopping at the farmers’ markets is a fun way to pick up ingredients for dinner, and I always find something new and delicious to try.
In Downtown Champaign, find The Land Connection’s Champaign Farmers’ Market in Downtown Champaign every Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and the Urbana Market at the Square opens every Saturday at 7 a.m. until noon, rain or shine.
I love wandering down the aisles of the market and browsing the vendors’ tents to see the vibrant produce and plantables.
Little boxes of plantables herbs, fruits, or vegetables are for sale at the market, and you still have time to plant in your garden. Ask the farmers what they recommend, and buy some varieties of your favorites to plant in your garden.
Asparagus is in season this month, and I love eating Illinois-grown asparagus. To me, it tastes better because of its short trip from the ground, to local farmers’ hands, to mine at the market.
Berries and Flour has a tent at the Champaign Tuesday market with baked goods, syrups, shrubs, and more. I love seeing what interesting flavor is available each week. When I visited last, Berries and Flour had acorn cookies in the shape of an acorn made with locally foraged acorns, and it was tasty.
Central Illinois Bakehouse has a table of bread at both the Champaign and Urbana markets, and the bakery always has a wide selection of baked goods. From sweet to savory and full loaves to individual portions, the options for CI Bakehouse’s breads, pastries, cronuts, cookies, and more are plentiful.
Also at both markets, check out Cloud Mountain Kombucha. The Urbana kombucha brewery has a brick-and-mortar store in the Lincoln Square Mall and a rotating list of fermented tea drinks with great flavors like lemon-ginger, cold brew, and persimmon black walnut made with persimmon from RegCakes Bakery. The whole menu of ‘buch can be found here.
Lincoln Square Mall staple, Stango Cuisine serves dishes from the restaurant’s menu at both markets. I cannot pass up a beef pie when I walk by, and I usually have to eat it on the way to my car because it’s just so good. Stango’s handmade beef pie is spicy, meaty, and encased in a buttery, flaky pastry that is perfect for a Tuesday afternoon snack or a Saturday morning breakfast.
Find lots of great produce and herbs at Sola Gratia Farm’s table. Sola Gratia Farm is a community-based farm that offers fresh produce at both markets. This June, buy spinach, lettuce, asparagus, dill, peas, green mustard, cilantro, garlic, and more.
At Urbana’s Market at the Square, most vendors have returned to their pre-pandemic spots. Meyer Produce is at the end of the first row selling locally grown produce. The plants from this farm all have signs with pretty handwriting.
I love seeing the selection of plants for home gardens. I don’t have much space in my backyard, but last year’s plants from Meyer Produce sprouted bell peppers and jalapeño peppers just from a pot on my patio. Meyer Produce is also at both markets. Chat with Molly, the knowledgeable farmer behind Meyer Produce, about your shade, soil, and veggie preferences to learn what’s best to buy for your home garden.
At the Urbana market, Green G Farms in Villa Grove, Illinois sells herbs like Thai basil for $2 a bunch and asparagus for $3 a bundle. Find unique produce like ong choy which the farmer told me could be used for salads or any recipe that calls for greens.
I bought some delicious strawberries from Green G Farms. My kids loved how cute and small the berries were, and I loved the tart sweetness. Between us, we finished the whole carton that same day. This month, I’m hoping to find some cherries and more berries.
At the Urbana market on Saturdays and the Champaign market on Tuesdays, Fruitful Vines has a table with bright red and orange tomatoes grown in Sullivan, Illinois. In my opinion, tomato season is the very best season, and I love adding tomato to anything I can during these bountiful months.
If you want hot sauce, there’s a brand new company called Regal Gecko. The hot sauce company has one hot sauce called Clásico that has a mango-habanero flavor. You can buy one geck for $13 or two gecks for $22. Regal Gecko also gives out free high fives and has a person wearing a gecko mask. I bought a bottle of the hot sauce, and it was fantastic with a spicy habanero flavor and a subtle mango taste. The fruity flavor cooled the bright heat, and the sauce would be an awesome dip for a party.
The Weird Meat Boyz are selling sauce at the Saturday market, too. The duo has a variety of hot sauces and an incredible smoky barbeque sauce. They released their newest sauce last month: blueberry-cherry ghost pepper sauce. If you’ve eaten food from Collective Pour recently, these are the chefs behind the Weird Meat Boyz Kitchen which is open Thursday to Saturday nights in the kitchen at Collective Pour.
The Great Harvest Bread Company is back at the Urbana Market at the Square. It’s not the Champaign-based bakery that closed in 2019; it’s the Bloomington bakery location. The baker will have bread every other week at the Saturday market. Great Harvest Bread Company comes to the market every other week, and this Saturday, they’ll be there. You can shop the plethora of baked goods under a big tent. I tried the chocolate loaf and the lavendar pistachio. In the chocolate bread, there were chocolate chips throughout, and it was very sweet with a great cocoa flavor. It was a good sized loaf, too, with portions for a week. My son liked eating it for both breakfast and dessert.
A beautiful sight to see on a Saturday morning is the row of food trucks. I love all three of these trucks, and I love that they are gathered every Saturday for the Market at the Square.
What was my market haul? Some new things and a few of my must-haves.
Of course, I had to have my Nitro Cup cold brew and a kouign amann from Six Red Chairs Bakery. I tried a bottle of the new Regal Gecko, two loafs from Great Harvest Bread, some strawberries, zucchini, and the amazing maple-bacon cronuts from Central Ilinois Bakehouse. Everything was so good, and I know my next visit to the market will have awesome bites, too.
Let us know what you like to buy at the markets — or if there’s something I should try for next month’s Market Watch. Drop me an email or leave a comment on our socials.
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.
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.