Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Work Never Stops

I hope everyone's enjoying the decidedly wintry season - and I also hope you've been able to make it to the Holiday Market in Lincoln Square Village in Urbana, because there are still plenty of local producers to support. Better get out there, though - this coming weekend is the final Holiday Market of 2009. Then it's time for a long winter's nap. Or something.

The goats of Prairie Fruits Farm - one of our many popular vendors during the Market season - have been, um, busy in the offseason. Most of the does are pregnant, and they'll deliver their kids in March, April, and May. Hey, goat ladies - how ya doin'?


For those of you interested in such things, our very own Sprouts at the Market has its own Facebook page and Twitter feed.

We're working on some amazing projects for the 2010 season - I'll tell more as soon as details get firmed up.

The Market opens in 135 days!






Monday, November 16, 2009

Thank You








Thanks so much to everyone for a fantastic season - we're already looking forward to 2010.























Thursday, November 5, 2009

Closing Time


The last 27 weeks have flown by and now we find ourselves at the end of the outdoor Market season - with, of course, the nicest weather we've seen in weeks on deck for this Saturday. We hope to see thousands - yes, thousands! - of people out and about for the last Market at the Square on November 7, soaking up the sun and buying lots of food.

The Market will be small this week - we can now fit everyone into three rows. Small is beautiful, though, and the vast majority of our produce vendors will be out in force to offer you the goods:

apples, cilantro, celeriac, leeks, onions, heirloom potatoes, tomatoes (?), fresh carrots, chard, cabbages, lettuces and salad mixes, spinach, green onions, green beans, okra, eggplant, hot & sweet peppers, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, squashes (including pumpkins) — also, locally-raised meat and eggs, award-winning goat cheese, honey, and much more

You can also get a head start on some of your holiday shopping by patronizing the booths of our artisans out at the Market this weekend. If there's a Market geek in your midst, consider swinging by the City tent and picking up a limited edition Market poster for the low, low price of two bucks! They frame nicely and make wonderful gifts.

We'll be posting once a week during the off-season, so don't take us off your list.

Well, not until May 1, 2010 at 7 AM, that is.

****REMINDER: Many of the Market's vendors will be selling indoors at the Urbana Business Association's Holiday Market, which gets underway Saturday, November 14 at 8 AM inside Lincoln Square Mall. The Holiday Market will run through Saturday, December 19.
Yep - after this weekend, there will be no more tents in Lot 10X at Lincoln Square. ****

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Week 27: Spooky Halloween!

Halloween just so happens to fall directly on a Market day this season, so... take your costumes out on a test run this weekend at Market at the Scare!! We'll have treats baked by Common Ground Food Co-op, some chocolate loveliness, apple cider, and maybe some trick-or-treat action at some of the vendor booths - all while supplies last, starting at 9 AM.

There's still plenty of food at the Market. To wit:

apples, arugula, fennel, fresh herbs, leeks, onions, heirloom potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, lettuces and salad mixes, spinach, green onions, green beans, okra, eggplant, sweet potatoes, hot & sweet peppers, broccoli, radishes, kohlrabi, turnips, kale, squashes (including pumpkins) - also, locally-raised meat and eggs, award-winning goat cheese, honey, and much more

Next week's Market is our last for the 2009 season. The Urbana Business Association's Holiday Market, featuring many of the same vendors and several new ones, too, gets underway inside Lincoln Square on November 14 at 8 AM.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Market at the Square, Week 26: Pumpkins & Sprouts

First, let us gaze upom the awesome weirdness that is CELERIAC, also known as CELERY ROOT (and known to me as "that vegetable that looks like it's something from the Herbology classes in Harry Potter"):


Celeriac, besides being visually fascinating, is a wonderfully-flavored root vegetable that can be totally delicious raw or (my fave) roasted with other roots. These fine specimens were spotted at Tomahnous Farm's booth, at the south end of the Market's row 2.

OF NOTE THIS WEEKEND:

Sprouts at the Market - final event for 2009 is a healthy trick-or-treat!

Yep - one last Sprouts event before we close Market at the Square for the season on November 7, and this one is always fun:

1. Sprout arrives and checks in at one of the Sprouts stations throughout the Market (or at Sprouts HQ at the NW Market entrance).
2. Sprout receives free tote bag for treat-hauling purposes.
3. Sprout goes to other Sprouts stations to learn about fall/winter foods, sample them (or food made from them). '
4. Sprout takes away a few souvenirs and gets a Certificate of Participation.
5. Sprout's grown-up takes a short survey.

Sprouts gets started at 9 AM and runs through 11 AM. Please call 217-384-2319 for more information.

Pumpkins:

Bob Kleiss is having a pumpkin sale this weekend - if you haven't yet gotten your jack-o'lantern for this year's Halloween, this weekend's the perfect time. Bob will have a huge selection of pumpkins large and small to choose from at really excellent prices. Don't miss it - their pumpkin truck is right at the NW entrance to the Market, in row 1.

Pie:

Trisha Rux and her Red Oak pies & casseroles will be back for one last time this Market season. Find her this Saturday in row 4 - she's got those pink boxes full of pie!

See you out there!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Market at the Square, Week 25: Local, Seasonal

Here are a few highlights from last weekend's Market - many thanks to those who came out and got some grocery shopping done on what turned out to be a terrific day:

Romanesco broccoli and cauliflower from the Moores

Beeswax from Blue Ribbon Apiary

Kleiss' pumpkin truck


REMINDER: Market at the Square runs through November 7 in its usual spot, no matter what the weather. Starting November 14, the Urbana Business Association will be bringing their Holiday Market to Lincoln Square. While the two markets are run by different organizations and have different emphases, they share many of the same vendors, including farmers. The Holiday Market gets underway a little later in the morning, too, starting at 8 and going until 1 PM. If you have questions, check out the link above or call their office at 344-3872.

FOOD THIS WEEK: apples, arugula, fennel, fresh herbs, leeks, onions, heirloom potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages (including Napa - my fave), carrots, lettuces and salad mixes, spinach, green onions, green beans, okra, eggplant, sweet potatoes, hot & sweet peppers, broccoli, radishes, fennel, kohlrabi, kale, squashes (including pumpkins) - also, locally-raised meat and eggs, award-winning goat cheese, honey, and much more.


SPECIAL GUESTS: This weekend, we'll have the Mahomet Aquifer Project back for an encore performance (see last week's entry for more information). Also, U-Cycle will be back - this time with folks from the Landscape Recycling Center, who'll be around to answer any and all of your compost, yard waste, and other questions about ways the center can help improve your gardens and lawns.

See you out there!






Thursday, October 8, 2009

Market at the Square, Week 24: True Autumn

It was a bit dreary at last week's Market, as occasionally happens this time of year, so I took no photos. It's also a bit dreary as I type this. How about a Market photo from a couple of weeks ago to cheer everyone up?




Sweet peppers from Blue Moon Farm - Urbana, IL

That's better.

My meteorologist pals Ed & Mike tell me that the rain will be long gone by the time we get rolling this Saturday morning; the sun will shine down on the fruits, vegetables, food, and art, and all will be well. You'll probably require a jacket when you come out, but no raingear.

The locally-grown produce we have this time of year is so colorful and gorgeous and plentiful and tasty and... well, LOCAL! Chances are, the person who had a serious hand in growing it is right across the table from you when you buy it at the Market, too. Our growers and other producers are a tremendous local resource on several levels; they're growing food nearby and providing our community a local food option... AND they can tell you about several tasty things to do with that incredible-looking rainbow chard if you're stumped. That's part of what makes the Market so awesome and different, and it's one of the many reasons why we hope the Market has a weekly spot on your grocery-shopping roster.

Food this week:

apples, sweet corn, fennel, fresh herbs, leeks, onions, heirloom potatoes, tomatoes, chard, cabbages (including Napa - my fave), carrots, lettuces and salad mixes, spinach, green onions, green beans, okra, eggplant, hot & sweet peppers, broccoli, kohlrabi, squashes (including pumpkins) - also, locally-raised meat and eggs, award-winning goat cheese, honey, and much more

Special events this week include:

- The final installment of Urbana's Public Arts Program's Art At the Market series. This weekend's workshop will be a "Water Creature" mask-making workshop helmed by local artist and educator Lori Caterini. This continuous workshop is happening from 8 AM - noon, is completely free and open to the public, and requires no registration. Art at the Market will return to the Market in 2010!

- University of Illinois Dance professor Jennifer Monson brings her Mahomet Aquifer Dance Project to the Market this weekend and next (the Mahomet Aquifer, in case you're unfamiliar, is an enormous water system that provides water for Urbana-Champaign and many other communities in Central Illinois). Come check out what's sure to be a compelling performance! The troupe will be performing on Walnut Street, just west of the Market site, from 9 AM - noon.

See you out there!




Thursday, October 1, 2009

Market at the Square - Week 23





Fall and all of its fabulous flavors and colors are really upon us now. Last weekend's Market started off foggy (check out this photo of our early morning setup, taken at 6 AM - is that the mothership from Close Encounters coming up over Illinois Street?) but ended up being lovely. We're hoping for more of the same this weekend. It won't be overly warm - it's definitely hoodie weather at the Market - but then again, it IS October...


This week's food:


apples, peaches (final week, for real this time), sweet corn, fennel, fresh herbs, leeks, onions, heirloom potatoes, tomatoes, chard, cabbages (including Napa - my fave), lettuces and salad mixes, spinach, green onions, green beans, okra, eggplant, hot & sweet peppers, broccoli, kohlrabi, squashes (including pumpkins) - also, locally-raised meat and eggs, award-winning goat cheese, honey, and much more


I'd like to encourage all patrons to not only come to the Market as we get into its last weeks, but to also bring a friend with you - someone who doesn't get to the Market that often or - gasp! - has never been. Jason of Clever Food stopped by with a friend last weekend, and I like to think there were lots of other new faces mixed in with the familiar ones.


This weekend, Urbana Fire Rescue's Fire Truck Parade and Muster will set up shop on Illinois Street, just south of the Market. The westbound lane of Illinois Street will be blocked off entirely to accomodate the Fire Department's vehicles, but the eastbound lane will hopefully be open two ways, single lane, to accomodate patrons who wish to use the parking lot on Illinois Street. (I'll post a correction if, for some reason, the lot is not accessible). Come check out some fire trucks before you head into the Market - and swing the kids by The Urbana Free Library's booth, since they'll be reading books about fire safety, fire trucks, etc to all kids.


We hope to see you out there!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Market at the Square, Week 22: Bring A Friend





From the top: watermelons from Moore Family Farm, assorted flowers from the Owenses, and onions from Bob Brackett.

Astronomical summer's final Market before Fall took over was a great one.

The U of I soccer team was a hit with folks of all ages - thanks to the student-athletes and Head Coach Janet Rayfield for taking time out of their schedule to come to the Market. Gentle reminder: Big Ten play vs Minnesota opens this weekend with Soccerfest - gates open at 11:30, game at 1, free admission and FREE FOOD.

Speaking of food, here's a sampling of what we're looking at in terms of what'll be available at the Market this weekend:

apples, peaches (final week), sweet corn, fennel, fresh herbs, leeks, onions, potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, chard, cabbages (including Napa - my fave), lettuces and salad mixes, green beans, okra, eggplant, hot & sweet peppers, broccoli, squashes - also, locally-raised meat and eggs, award-winning goat cheese, honey, and much more

As we begin the Fall produce season and start the home stretch (there are 7 Markets left before we close up shop for the year), I'd like to invite all our regular patrons to celebrate the Market and bring a friend along this weekend - especially if that friend has never attended the Market before, or rarely attends. The Market is a truly unique experience in Urbana-Champaign that appeals on so many levels - the gustatory and the social chief among them. Your friends deserve to discover what they're missing.

So, go on - bring someone! We'll see you out there!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Market at the Square, Week 21: Summer's Last


The light between 7 and 9 AM was amazing at last week's Market. I'd been feeling a bit uninspired recently while taking photos (I take at least a hundred every week), but there's something about the light this time of year that makes things luminous and deeply-colored and substantive. Light can work wonders for one's inspiration.


We're fast approaching the time of year where we turn a bit inward - we get back to the business of school, projects ramp up at work, we clean out our living spaces and do what we can outside with waning daylight. Evidence of this is all around, including at the Market. Regular patrons have probably noticed a subtle shift in what's available from our farmers - this is the last week for peaches, but apples are peaking. The melons look (and smell) incredible, but are now sharing their truck beds with pumpkins. There are plenty of tomatoes and peppers... to go with the first harvests of fall spinach. Broccoli is back, and it is glorious.


This week at the Market, expect to find:

apples, basil, beets, bok choy, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, cilantro, cucumbers, edamame, eggplant, fresh herbs, garlic, green beans, green onions, kale, leeks, lettuce, melons, mushrooms, okra, parsley, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, pumpkins, raspberries, salad mix, spinach, sprouts, summer squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, zucchini and much more.

The City of Urbana's recycling program,
U-Cycle, will also be on hand to provide information to residents and visitors about their recycling options in this area. Look for them next to the City tent at the Market's northwest entrance.

This weekend's marquee event is the visit being paid by
University of Illinois soccer.



This is a great opportunity for your young soccer player to come out and meet the team before or after their Park District game. The squad and Head Coach Janet Rayfield will be on hand from 9:30-11:30 AM.

One last reminder - the final
Sprouts at the Market event for the season will be on October 24. More details soon!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Market at the Square, Week 20: Local Color





The Market - she's a rainbow!
Last week was fantastic. I'd like to thank everyone who came out to visit with Terra Brockman as she signed advance copies of her new book, The Seasons on Henry's Farm. It was a glorious day for her visit and it looked like she was making a bunch of new friends. If you're into food and sustainable ag, you'll love her book, especially because her excellent writing sets it apart from the many food/farm memoirs out there at present.
Speaking of sustainable ag, the good folks from Goldin Media will be out this weekend to film our Market and some of its vendors for a documentary they're producing about sustainable agriculture. They're interested in talking with patrons, too, so if you see some folks with a camera and want to talk about the Market - don't be shy!
Urbana's Public Arts Program returns to the Market this week with another installment of Art at the Market. The planned activity is, well, unplanned - we're looking at free-form art projects using watercolors, oil pastels, colored pencils and more, and the whole thing will be supervised by Urbana's Public Arts Coordinator, Anna Hochhalter. Anna will also have on display all the ceramic tiles that were made at the May Art at the Market event. Come! Make some art! View some art!
Fresh produce this week: apples, basil, beets, bok choy, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, cilantro, cucumbers, edamame, eggplant, fresh herbs, garlic, green beans, green onions, kale, leeks, lettuce, melons, nectarines, okra, parsley, peaches, pears, peppers, pumpkins, raspberries, salad mix, spinach, sprouts, summer squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, zucchini and a few surprises, I'm sure...
It should also be noted that Stewart's Artisanal Breads will have a limited supply of challah w/golden raisins available at the Market this weekend and next. He's in the 4th row, for those of you who have not yet experienced his baked goods. Additionally, there are excellent cookies to be had at Staff of Life Bakery (Row 5), the best English muffins EVER at the Upper Crust (along Illinois Street at the south end of the Market), award-winning cinnamon rolls from Homestead Bakery (Row 2), yummy quick breads from Muffins & More (Row 3), extremely tempting croissants from Pekara (Illinois Street), and tasty scones from Great Harvest (Row 4).
The variety, as you can see, is staggering.
Next weekend: Soccer at the Square with Coach Janet Rayfield and her University of Illinois soccer team. The team will be working with people of all ages on simple soccer drills as well as giving away posters, a few t-shirts, and a signed soccer ball. Come show them your stuff, y'all.
See you out there!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Everybody Wins!


This is what it's all about: the dollars you spend with local producers at the Market go directly to the producers - no middleman! - and those producers spend their earnings in our community instead of elsewhere. Everyone wins - you get the best and freshest produce the area has to offer, the producers get paid immediately for their wares, and the community enjoys the boost in commerce. It's win-win-win, as a former boss likes to say.

Speaking of, this week is
MADE OF WIN, as the kids like to say. It's Labor Day Weekend, which means an abundance of relatives and friends and feasting and grilling and general making of food. The weather looks fantastic for shopping the Market, and you can get everything you need at the Market for dinner. Meats and veggies to grill. Potatoes, scallions, and eggs for potato salad. Tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cilantro for pico de gallo and salsa. Sweet corn for the grill or kettle. Boules or baguettes or buns. The last of the peaches for a pie (or a whole pie if you don't feel like making one). See where I'm going with this? Just about everything you need to have the best cookout in the known universe can come from someone local.

We'll also have author (and
The Land Connection founder) Terra Brockman in for a preview booksigning for her forthcoming book, The Seasons on Henry's Farm. Henry is Terra's brother, Henry Brockman, and this book details the 52 weeks of the year on the farm. There are a few recipes, but the book is mostly a lovely ode to Henry's oasis of sustainability right here in Central Illinois. The Land Connection will also be in the booth - come say hi to Terra, pick up a book, and talk to The Land Connection folks. They'll be at the north end of Row One, just north of the City tent. Things will get underway around 9 AM; please call me (Lisa) with any questions at 217-384-2319.
Other special guests this week - Illinois Public Media (also known as WILL) & The Urbana Free Library will be making their monthly visits to the Market. If you visit the WILL folks, you can get more information on their Illinois Radio Reader service AND WILL's Young Learners Initiative will be there to revise the story of "The Three Little Pigs"! Not to be outdone, TUFL will be signing people up for library cards, reading to kids, and giving away balloons.
Future events at the Market:
September 12: Art at the Market
September 19: Soccer at the Square with the U of I women's soccer squad
****REMINDER: The next Sprouts at the Market event is October 24****

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Market at the Square - Week 18

Sweet corn from Kleiss Produce Farm- Tuscola, IL

We're pretty corn-centric on the blog these days. For good reason, though - this year's sweet corn, when it finally arrived, has been juicy and sweet but not too-cringingly so. It's been good raw, on the grill, boiled with a little bit of milk, on the cob, off the cob, buttered, plain. I've bought some from nearly every vendor who's had it this year (there were about 5 or 6) and all of it, from Peoria to Effingham, was delicious. Corn was also the featured edible at last week's Sprouts at the Market event. And this weekend, corn is going to reign supreme.


Yes, it's time. The Urbana Sweetcorn Festival - featuring corn harvested in Illinois - gets underway tomorrow evening in downtown Urbana, and the party continues on Saturday. Market at the Square goes on in its usual place (corner of Illinois and Vine) at its usual time (7 AM - noon), and we'll have vendors selling this mighty vegetable/fruit/grain (seriously!) for home preparation. Get thee to Urbana this weekend!



Speaking of Sprouts, we had a record turnout at last weekend's installment. We'd like to thank Common Ground Food Co-op, Jim and Carol Toler (they do the kettle corn in row 3), and Mark Schottman (he sells corn in Row 3) for their generous food donations for the Sprouts event. THANK YOU! The next Sprouts event will be a trick-or-treat of sorts on Saturday, October 24. More info soon - we might even get Sprouts its own blog, so keep your eyes peeled.

This Week's Food: You can expect a lot of sweet corn, peaches & nectarines, some plums, early apples, pears, cucumbers, beets, zucchini and summer squash, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, basil and other herbs, kale, arugula, leeks, shallots, garlic, potatoes, melons, cabbage, lettuces, peppers (hot and sweet), heirloom tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and much more. Don't forget the wide selection of baked goods and prepared foods, plus meat, cheese, eggs, and honey. YUM.

This Week's Events: Carle Foundation Hospital will be out at the Market this weekend to launch their year-round medical waste acceptance program. Look for them at the east end of the community groups row to drop off your medical waste and pick up some free gifts while they have them. Also, look for Urbana Fire Rescue at the NW entrance to the Market - they'll have one of their trucks with them, stickers for the kids, but most importantly, they'll be trying to "fill the boot" for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

September Events:

September 5 - Terra Brockman, author and founder of The Land Connection, will be speaking to visitors and signing advance copies of her new book, The Seasons on Henry's Farm. More info next week!

September 12 - Art at the Market - artist and activity TBA.

September 19 - The University of Illinois women's soccer team will be on hand at the Market to help you with your soccer skillz, sign some posters, give away some merch, and maybe a few tickets. The soccer squad is a University sports team well worth watching - they're top-tier athletes and really nice women who also happen to be TOUGH AS NAILS.

September 19 - U-Cycle will be out for Recycl-ympics! Details soon.

Last but not least: the listing for the Market at LocalHarvest has been updated - find it here. Leave feedback! Love us up!

See everyone out there this weekend...




Thursday, August 20, 2009

Welcome Back, U of I


As I write this, University of Illinois Student Move-In has begun - and while it's generally a good time for non-University folks to avoid campus (mainly to let the new and returning people do their thing without getting in the way), Market at the Square would like to extend a warm welcome to town AND an invitation for our new friends to come our way instead!

Last week was one of the great Markets of the season so far - we had a really successful Art at the Market event thanks to our Public Arts Program, the weather was good, vendors and visitors seemed to be having a good time, there were watermelons and tomatoes and peaches and just about every kind of vegetable imaginable. We really are lucky to live on top of some of the best dirt in the world, because the harvest, when it comes (and it's here), is incredible.

This week's weather promises to be even more delightful, and as of this writing the Market is at capacity for vendors - at least 90 proprietors of all kinds are scheduled to be at the Market this weekend, and it is seriously going to run the gamut.


Additionally, we have another installment of Sprouts at the Market - bring your kids anytime between 9-11 AM, and they can sign in at the Sprouts tent or at any Sprouts table sporting the Sprouts chick symbol. The theme this month? Well, it's CORN. Kids will learn about corn's versatility and its nutritional benefits; they'll also be able to chat with corn grower Mark Schottman and sample corn in a few of its many forms, thanks to Mr. Schottman, Toler's Kettle Corn, and Common Ground Food Co-op. Every kid gets a certificate of participation, and shirts are for sale. Many thanks to Jen Hewitt for helming this project - she and her crew of volunteers do an awesome job.
Just a quick reminder that Urbana's SweetCorn Festival takes place in downtown Urbana August 28 and 29. All corn served at the festival will be from an Illinois source this year - two for a buck! Should be awesome.
See you out there!




Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Market at the Square - Week 16

I'm posting the weekly update a little early this week due to the swelling tide of projects getting underway as we approach the beginning of the, uh, SCHOOL YEAR. Hard to believe it's already time for that, especially given the lack of true summer weather we've been having.

Before I get started on this weekend's activities, I want to mention that I went out to visit Triple S Farms last week. I got to see the Stan Man in his natural habitat - amongst the beef, the bacon, and the poultry:



It's totally obvious that Stan really cares about what he's doing and the animals he's raising. For more photos of my visit you can go here, and if you want to talk to Stan himself at the Market, he's there every Saturday at the east end of the row alongside Illinois Street with the red tent. Say hi to his intrepid help, Greg and Quinton, when you get there.

*****

OK! Let's talk about Art at the Market. This week, Urbana's Public Arts Program is back with its monthly Art at the Market session. If you're not familiar with the sessions - they're awesome. Program Coordinator Anna Hochhalter brings in a local artist to facilitate a hands-on, open-to-everyone event where the end product is... art! This weekend, participants will be learning how to make marbled paper with the help of Urbana artist David Black. Things get going at 8 AM, but the workshop is continuous through noon, so come when you want! Registration is not required, and it's totally free. If you have questions, call Anna at 217-384-2311 or email her here.

While we're at it, let's talk about art at the Market. We have a lot of artisans busting out their best wares this weekend - Hooey Batiks, MegaMoxie, Piece By Piece, Berry Good Things, Farmboy Artworks, Glass Act, Michelle Faires, Mary Kemmer, Uptown Concrete, Kickapoo Woodworks, Miss Linda's Universe, Twin City Crafts, Queen Anne's Lace, Manrique Photography, Firefly Jewels, Barnyard Calico, Fields of Fall, Calico Creatures, Urbana Leather, Fun Art, Handmade Soaps by Laurel, Elisa Enriquez, Goose Creek Farm, Juniper Moon, The Farmer's Daughter, John Coppess Leather, Cards and More, Garnets & Glass, The Stamp Lady, Hannah's Heavenly Harvest, Izabela Rayski, Liddia Stevens, Cindi Adkins, and others.

While a farmers' market is naturally about food, having artisans and performers at our Market enhances it and gives it more depth - I believe it helps the Market become an actual place where things happen instead of a parking lot where stuff gets bought. Art in the public square is important for communities, so I'm happy to be working both with Anna and the Public Arts Program and a bunch of talented people out at the Market.


*****



But, of course, we must bring the conversation to food.
First off, it's melon time. We've had a few melons here and there over the past two weeks, but we're galloping headlong into melon season now and we should have plenty this weekend. Look at these Kleiss cantaloupes - GIGANTIC. The scent of melons mixed with tuberose (first stems in last weekend, more this weekend at Owens', in row 2) is one of my favorite scents in the known universe, a true hallmark of summer's end approaching.
I have to mention sweet corn here - we have several vendors selling high-quality sweet corn this season. Two vendors bring in a lot of corn - Kleiss Produce (Row 1) and the Schottman Bros (Row 3). PLEASE REMEMBER that you can also find excellent sweet corn from smaller producers in rows 4 (O'Rourke Family Gardens and Bratcher's Gathering Place) and 5 (Bob Cambridge, Roth Countryside Produce). Market staff spend a lot of time walking the Market, checking on things, so come ask us if you're having trouble locating corn. We can help you out.
As for peaches, this will be Sager Farms' last weekend with us for the 2009 season - check their stall along Illinois Street for their final peaches and maybe a few berries. Eberlin Orchard, Mileur Orchard, and Cary's Garden of Eatin' still have stone fruit available and will be around in the weeks to come. Mileur Orchard and Cary, along with Kleiss and Bob Brackett, have some apples ready now - another sure sign we're transitioning to a new season.
Heirloom tomatoes and other summer vegetables are at their peak. There are literally walls and mountains of absolutely gorgeous produce scattered all throughout the Market - not just the first row. Do yourself a favor and wander the entire Market this weekend - you won't be disappointed.
Next weekend: Sprouts at the Market - all about corn!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Busy Time

This is what we call Crazy Time. It's peak season, so our attendance is highest, and there's a lot going on with the Market. This weekend's Market includes a bike rodeo, a mentoring event, truckloads of corn, many varieties of heirloom tomatoes, the first appearance of melons, etc. More info on all of that below.

Last week was pretty darn awesome:








This week:


Food. You can expect a lot of sweet corn, peaches & nectarines, berries (especially blackberries), early apples, pears, cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash, eggplant, onions, potatoes, melons, cabbage, lettuces, peppers (hot and sweet), heirloom tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and much more! Don't forget the wide selection of baked goods and prepared foods, plus meat, cheese, eggs, and honey.

It's National Farmers' Market Week. Come say hello at the City tent, tell us what you like about our Market, etc - show us some love on Saturday! More info about National Farmers' Market Week here, and you can read Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack's proclamation here (it's a PDF).

Posters for sale. You can get your very own Market poster (see right) for the low, low price of $2.00. These are limited to 100 copies and are numbered - we have them at the City tent at the NW entrance. Available while supplies last!

Bike Rodeo at the Market. C-U Safe Routes to School is sponsoring another Bike Rodeo at the Market! Adults and kids are welcome - do the safety stations on bikes, get fitted for new helmets (helmets are only $10 while supplies last), and learn all about sharing the road. 9:00-11:30 AM. More info here (PDF).

Mentor Morning at the Market. People currently mentoring students in C-U schools are invited to stop by the Mentoring booth at the north end of the market. They will receive a badge identifying themselves as a mentor and the first 80 mentors will also receive a gift certificate for an item donated by one of the Market Vendors. Peaches, brats, organic produce, jewelry, homemade soap, flowers, fresh bread & jam are just a few of the items vendors have generously donated for mentors. Anyone interested in mentoring a C-U student for an hour per week during the school day is invited to stop by the Mentoring Booth for information or get more info here.

Second Saturday. The Urbana Business Association's Second Saturday event starts at 10 AM and runs through mid-afternoon. Shop the Market, then head just a few blocks north to Urbana's downtown for more vendors and food. More info needed? Call the UBA at 344-3872.

Upcoming:

Art at the Market, 8/15. Stay tuned for more details about this much-loved Market special event!

Sprouts at the Market, 8/22. This month's event is all about... corn. More details next week!

We're really enjoying Crazy Time. Hope to see everyone out there - it might be warm, but with some water and some sunscreen, you'll be in good shape!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Zenith


This week's Market is our 14th; after it's over, we'll be just past the halfway point of the season. Halfway already??

This here entry will be short due to the fact I'll be out visiting Moore Family Farm in Watseka tomorrow (the same Moore Family Farm that produced the above cabbage and lettuce) during my usual posting time and so don't have much time to talk about this weekend. Just as well - this weekend we get a bit of a breather, if you call a sold-out Market loaded with fresh produce, several new artisans, crazy amounts of prepared food, and the Urbana Free Library a breather.

About last weekend - it was spectacular. We had beautiful weather for the day's Sprouts activity and the kids seemed to have an excellent time tasting fruits and vegetables. Big thanks to the growers whose generosity made the Sprouts event such a hit:

Moore Family Farm
O'Rourke Family Gardens
Kleiss Produce Farm
Meyer Produce
Blue Moon Farm
First Fruits Produce Co.
Tomahnous Farm
Tiny Greens
Mileur Orchard
Brackett CSA
Jerry & Dawn's Plants & Produce

Also, many, many thanks to Common Ground Food Co-op for the use of their kitchen. Without you, we'd have been nothing!

The next Sprouts event will be August 22. It's going to be all about... corn. More info soon!

That's all I have for now. See you at the Market!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lucky Thirteen

I just realized that this weekend's Market is already our Lucky Thirteenth. Where's the summer gone? Jeez.

Last weekend was breathtakingly awesome - the weather cooperated, the sweet corn trucks looked like a Macy's underwear sale, and the crowd was phenomenal.

There were hula hoops:


There were big crowds of people in usually not-so-crowded places, like Row 5:


Corn, as I mentioned:


Of course, fruits and vegetables, like heirloom tomatoes, were plentiful:


And the Eastern Illinois Foodbank came by and picked up what little was left over:


These and other photos can be viewed at the Market's Flickr page. They're usually posted by Monday or Tuesday following the Saturday Market.

OK, enough about last week - it's so... last week. How about this week?

Produce
The produce situation at the Market gets a big thumbs-up. Everything you saw last week will be there this week: southern IL peaches, sweet corn, berries, eggplant, just about everything under the sun. It might be a couple more weeks before any melons are in evidence, so if they're your thing, please be patient - the cooler weather isn't helping melons along. If you're into corn, please remember two things: a) there's more corn than what you see when you walk in, so please stop by the City tent if Bob Kleiss' truck in Row One is spent - we'll tell you where there's more corn and b) that said, arrive early - before 10 AM for sure! - to get your pick. People are elbow to elbow at those trucks and, I can only assume, are buying dozens of ears to put on the grill.





Sprouts at the Market
Our second Sprouts session is happening this Saturday. This month's theme is "color families" - what can a orange vegetable or a yellow fruit do for you? The event goes from 9 AM-11 AM and is a self-guided nutrition/farm trivia tour through the Market that includes tasting of some fruits and vegetables. Kids and their carergivers can stop and sign in at any Sprouts table (look for the chick symbol!) or at the Sprouts main tent at the NW entrance to the Market (you only need to sign in once). This event is free and is open to kids of all ages, but is geared toward 4-10 year-olds. All participating kids will receive a Sprouts certificate, and Sprouts shirts will also be for sale. We'll have another event in August (all about corn) and the final Sprouts event will be in late October (healthy trick-or treat). Hope you can make it!

What else is happening?
- The much asked-about new Market t-shirt is in its final stages of design and we should have them ready very soon. Keep your eyes peeled!
- Suitable-for-framing 2009 Market posters should be for sale at the City tent this weekend - they're limited to 100, so each is numbered. They'll be just two bucks - great to send to friends who've left the area but still love the Market.

See you out there!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Suddenly, Thursday

I made these at home - not for sale at the Market. Already eaten.

It's been a short week (yet long at the same time - how does that work?) so I'll be brief.

The weather Saturday looks great. 69 degrees for a high with copious sunshine? That right there inspires me to feel OK about turning on the oven or the stove to make something delicious out of local corn, berries, scads of vegetables, fruit - how about something like the tartlets above? Those were made with Market nectarines, but it was on a hot day. I'd triple the recipe on a cooler day. YUM. OK.

Variety. While the Market is an excellent place to shop and hang out all 28 weekends, peak season is extra-special. I'm not talking just about the variety in local produce, though that's impressive. Where else can you go to get the freshest produce in town, nationally-decorated goat cheese, farm-raised meat and honey, preserves, beautiful jewelry, accessories fashioned from repurposed wool sweaters, awesome woodcraft, hula hoops, vegetarian wraps, and homemade English muffins? Nowhere else.



English Muffins by Upper Crust - Illinois Street row

I'm really looking forward to this weekend's Market after being rained on the last two. Hope to see everyone -EVERYONE! - out there!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

King Corn

Schottman's corn sign, 2008

Local growers have had a couple of particular issues this season - every season it's a different combination of Things Gone Awry - and those are WEATHER and VARMINTS.

WEATHER: It's been tricky at best this season - a cool start, more rain that anyone really knows what to do with, no slow heat, etc, so that's delayed some things (sweet corn) and shortened the season of others (that last heat wave turned stawberries into goo). The weather has also been a factor on a couple of Market days, most notably that very windy Saturday in May and a very soggy 4th of July. It's important to remember that the produce vendors are out there every weekend, no matter the weather, selling that fresh and local produce. We all know that rain is going to be a potential factor this weekend, so break out the umbrellas and galoshes and get thee to the Market for some fresh food! I'll take a photo of you (with permission, of course) in your finery to post in the Market Flickr. The Market can be fun, even on the less-than-perfect days. Thanks to Kathy of the Urbana Free Library for the inspiration.

VARMINTS: I received a phone call from Bob Kleiss of Kleiss Produce a couple of days ago, telling me that he would, indeed, have sweet corn, but it wouldn't be that much due to the raccoon problems he's been having. Jon at Blue Moon told me last weekend that varmints have been a major problem for them this year, with a second planting of tomatoes becoming critter food instead. Growers all over the area (and in other areas) have noticed an uptick in the number of voles, moles, mice, bunnies, raccoons, and other small furry mammals eating food that's meant for people. As it turns out, varmints don't really care who it's meant for. Raccoons partied in the one patch of sweet corn I grew years ago, and the aftermath was such that I swore I'd never do it again.

By eating seasonally and supporting local growers by coming to the Market, consumers have to roll with the punches. When the cherry trees freeze or get eaten by deer, there are no cherries at the Market. When it gets really hot, it's hard to find salad mix. When varmints eat entire second plantings of tomatoes, variety might be a bit more limited. It's part of being in the community, of knowing your growers.... and you might end up trying something you never thought you'd try. You can learn a lot at your farmers' market.

*****

Yes, I can confirm that most excellent Illinoisian delicacy - SWEET CORN - will make its presence felt, however shortly, this weekend. Look for it for sure in rows one and four, and come to the City tent to find out which, if any, other vendors have it available. It's highly recommended that you come early to avail yourself of the stuff, as it won't last long. There will be plenty more corn as the season progresses.

It's also time for summer berries - there will be blackberries, raspberries, black raspberries, blueberries, and maybe a few gooseberries, so get your cobbler on this weekend.

Other local produce: all kinds of greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, onions, leeks, potatoes, peaches and nectarines, broccoli, cabbage, chard, kales, and MUSHROOMS!, not to mention a wide variety of goat cheeses, farm-raised meat and poultry, fresh eggs, and honey. Of note: If you're into Stewart Pequignot's bagels or artisanal breads, stock up this weekend - he won't be back at the Market until 7/25.

*****

Finally - this week's special events:

Art at the Market is back for its third installment of the season. Urbana's Public Arts Program is bringing in local artist Roberta Bennett to provide a watercolor workshop to the public - it's free and open to all ages, and goes from 8 AM - noon this Saturday! Look for AatM right next to the City tent at the NW entrance to the Market. Questions? Contact Anna here or call 384-2311.

Second Saturday is happening in Downtown Urbana from 10 AM - 2 PM this weekend. This event is sponsored by the Urbana Business Association and showcases Downtown Urbana merchants and other vendors in a unique outdoor setting. Questions and other inquiries should be directed to Katie or Alix at the UBA - you can also reach them by phone at 344-3872.

Have a great weekend - I'll see you at the Market. And if it's raining? I'm the one in orange galoshes.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Business As Usual

As mentioned, Market at the Square will be open for business this weekend, 7 AM 'til noon, rain or shine. We wouldn't miss the chance to spotlight food independence... and we're entering one of the best parts of the growing season, what with the berries coming on, the sweet corn threatening, and - YUM:



Nectarines came in last week, and holy MOLEY, are they something. The ones pictured above come from Mileur Orchard in Murphysboro, IL.

Anyway, this is the time of year we wait for - there's an incredible selection of produce and farm-raised foods available. Patrons spending money with Market growers ensures their survival and keeps money in the local community. So - now's the time to make that 4th of July picnic list, and Saturday's the time to come by the Market and pick up your list items.

Have guests for the weekend? Roust them out of bed and show them how we do it here in Urbana - take them to buy some peaches from Sager Farms or blueberries from Cary's Garden of Eatin' or Moore Family Farm, run them past Prairie Fruits Farm's booth for some of their award-winning goat cheeses, convince them to try the first tomatoes of the season from Kleiss Produce (or some organic ones from Blue Moon Farm) - the possibilities are endless.

Lisa and Angie will be out at the Market directing traffic and surveying the scene - please stop by the City of Urbana tent with questions, comments, ideas, whatever about the Market. We love feedback.

See you out there!