Smile Politely

Market Watch: Keep it local

This week at the market there will be pumpkins and apples, all available without having to pick them yourself. Keep an eye out for lots of fun gourds for Halloween and fall decorating. I saw some really beautiful Halloween decorations for sale, as well as some really fun sock monkeys and toys, in case you are already thinkingabout holiday gifts. 

And speaking of gifts, the market has their new apparel and tote bags for sale this week. It’s on my list to pick up a “put a bird on it” shirt—they are so fun! There are only a few markets left this season, so don’t miss out on the last ones!

Market Watch is generally about Urbana’a Market at the Square, but I wanted to write a little about other places in town that market patrons might be interested in. While I highly encourage you to make the market your place to buy local, organic produce, hand made items, and baked goods, there are other places in town that also offer the opportunity to pick your own organic produce or participate in agricultural processes.

One of the reasons that I like to attend and shop the market is that I like to be in touch with the local area. By attending the market, I have learned a lot about Urbana- Champaign, the local growing season, and chatted about growing my own food with the professionals at the market. In the spirit of agriculturism and localism (hey, I just made those up!), here are some other local places where you might get your pumpkin/fall fix.

First, did you know that Champaign is the site of a local pumpkin and apple farm called Curtis Orchards?  Curtis Orchards offers u-pick apples and pumpkins, as well as apple donuts, fritters, and cider. It’s a fun place to visit with kids and they have a lot of activities for smaller kids. Maple Lane in Urbana also offers pumpkins and other fall items on Saturdays through October. They also have lots of activities including a haunted maze and hay rides. Also, if it is only pumpkins you are after, there is a pumpkin patch in Sidney called Negangard Pumpkin Patch, which is no-frills but has great prices. There is also a reindeer farm in Rantoul.  No, seriously.  There is a reindeer farm in Rantoul called Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch. They offer pumpkins as well and a chance to gawk some reindeer.

If it is goat cheese, dinners on the farm, and gelato you are after, it’s worth going out to Prairie Fruits Farm, as well as visiting their booth at the market. I’ve been to a few of their dinners on the farm, which are delicious and sell out really quickly each year. Triple S Farms also offers a look at some delicious grass-fed cows, if you’re out that way. This isn’t an exhaustive list of places in town, but hopefully it’s enough to encourage you get out and explore a little. So, if you want to investigate your food further or just enjoy a day outdoors, keep it local!

As usual, here is the full round up of market info:

Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. Some vendors have card readers on their smart phones, but I haven’t seen too many of those. See information about LINK tokens. 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. 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 gorgeous photos of the market.

The market runs from 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday through November 2. All events are scheduled rain or shine. C-U at the market!

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