Smile Politely

Market Watch: May 2015

Urbana’s Market at the Square opens this weekend. The weather has been getting warmer, the grass is green and flowers are blooming, so it must be time for Market at the Square to start. Market at the Square is C-U’s biggest farmer’s market. Continuously operating since 1979, Market at the Square is a great place to buy tasty produce, local crafts, and plants, as well as a place to enjoy the weather, people watch, get a snack and hear local musicians. It’s a producer-only market, which means all the produce is grown locally in Central Illinois. The market also offers locally sourced meat, eggs, and dairy. Nearly every weekend the market offers some special programming, so it’s worth checking it out each weekend to see what the market has to offer.

Market at the Square runs 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday from May 2nd to November 7th in the Lincoln Square Mall parking lot in Urbana. Look for the brightly colored tents and groups of food trucks to spot the market at the corner of Illinois and Vine Streets. It’s pretty hard to miss! The market is a Saturday morning Urbana tradition and welcomes around 4,000 people each week. The first couple of weeks at the market tend to be lighter on produce, but the market will have more as the season goes on and the conditions are better for produce and flowers. However, even if there isn’t a ton of produce this week, it’s worth coming out and grabbing something from one of the food trucks and browsing around to see what is new this year. The market always has local musicians, and there is usually some programing to each weekend. 

This month at the market the schedule of events looks pretty promising. May 2nd is Read at the Market, a new initiative with the Urbana Free Library. The UFL will highlight library resources related to market activities. You can learn more about Read at the Market here. Art at the Market premieres May 9th and features local arts programming and local music performances for art lovers of all ages. Art at the Market is provided in cooperation with the City of Urbana Arts Council; for more information about Art at the Market visit this website. On the third Saturday of May, Sprouts at the Market will premiere.

Sprouts provides programming for the market’s smallest patrons. This free program is available for kids ages 3 through 8 and features information about nutrition, agricultural education and fun activities. On May 16th Sprouts will feature a scavenger hunt designed to promote healthy eating habits. To learn more about the sprouts program, visit this website. May is also Bike to Market month, a month-long program that encourages resident to ride their bikes to the market each week, and provides resources for those who want to bike around town. More about Bike to Market month can be found here.

This month the market should have some kale, rhubarb, and asparagus as well as lettuce and garlic chives. As we get closer to June, the cut flower vendors will have more offerings and local fruit orchards will have berries and perhaps peaches. I am looking forward to getting baked goods from my favorite local bakery, Pekara, and also refreshing my local honey supply. Craft vendors will be out this week, so stop by to browse the local art. I am really hoping that Living Letter Press will be back at some point this summer so I can stock up on some stationary. If you are curious about which vendors will be at the market, you can check the market map to see who to look out for. 

The market a great place to start your weekend, so I hope to C-U there!

Market information

Forms of payment:  All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. Some vendors have card readers on their smart phones, but not all. Information
about LINK, SNAP, and WIC guidelines is available here. If you run out of cash, there is an ATM in 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. 

Pets: Pets are not allowed at the market, but you can get some yummy treats to share with your pet when you return home.

Information: You can follow the Market on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for Market mail here. And check out gorgeous photos of the Market on Instagram.

The Market runs from 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday through November 7th. All events are scheduled rain or shine.

Read at the Market and Bike to the Market images from Facebook. Other photos by Jessica Hammie. 

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