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****