Urbana’s Market at the Square begins their 29th season this Saturday, and after a long cold, winter, tomorrow’s farmer’s market couldn’t have come too soon. All the blooming trees, spring flowers and little seedlings popping up in local gardens conjure thoughts about summer and all the ultra-fresh local produce in the coming months. Unfortunately, due to all the rain, the farmers were a little late in planting this year and the market may be slim pickings these first few weeks, so get out of bed early to guarantee your share of the spring harvest.
Expect to see snappy asparagus, mixed salad greens, leafy greens and if we are lucky, radishes and rhubarb. Plenty of plants and seedlings will be for sale; now is a great time to get your garden started. Popular area vendors will be at the market with farm fresh eggs, meats, honey and locally-produced goat cheese. Naturally, all of the fruits and vegetables found at the market are Illinois-grown, and many of the farmers practice sustainable and/or organic farming methods.
A few new faces join Market at the Square this year including the Sidney Dairy Barn with frozen custard, a baker who creates gluten-free goods, and yet another vendor with fresh-baked bagels. Urbana’s Tiny Greens is returning to the market this year, after a one-year hiatus, with their many sprouts and a variety of carefully prepared foods. To be fair, I should mention all the great crafts, flowers and local musicians at the market, but the food is tops.
Lisa Bralts, the new market director, shared plenty of encouraging news for this market season. Look for new site maps, produce seasonality charts, cooking demonstrations, information on how to reduce your carbon footprint and an “increased focus on Urbana’s commitment to sustainability,” Bralts says.
“The market is an easy introduction to sustainability because it’s about food — we all have to eat, and eating from local sources provides us with chances to learn more about where our food comes from and how it’s produced,” Bralts says.
Market at the Square runs every Saturday from 7 a.m.-noon, rain or shine now through Nov. 8. The farmer’s market is located in the parking lot of Urbana Square Mall on the corners of Vine and Illinois streets.