Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Holy Asparagus!

Good grief - how did it get to be so close to the Market season with nary a blog entry? Must have been too busy putting the 2010 season together - I apologize.

So - what's happening? SO MUCH IS HAPPENING. Our 2010 season is launching this Saturday, May 1, at 7 AM in the usual spot (corner of Illinois and Vine Streets). Yes, the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon is being run that day - and the Market is on, RUN OR SHINE. We even made a poster about it.

The race gets underway at 7:30, and while much of the course is in Urbana and there will be street closings, traffic will be pulsed across the race course whenever there are openings. Officials estimate the majority of the race traffic will be through downtown Urbana by 9:30 - 10 AM. Have a look at the course maps and the beltway map and plot out your route! No matter if you're driving, walking, riding a bike or a Segway or whatever - please be patient as you try to get around town on Saturday. The Market will be worth your wait, because...

... the asparagus is going to be amazing. The weather this spring has been great for growing things - a couple of blasts of extreme (for April) warmth + timely rains = much ready in the way of produce on May 1. In addition to beautiful, gorgeous asparagus, there will be a plethora of salad mixes and lettuces and other greens, green onions, a bit of rhubarb, rainbow chard, radishes, rapini and kale, and maybe some rhubarb and a few other goodies if you're good. We'll have a couple of new meat vendors this season, but I can tell you for sure that Moore Family Farm will have grassfed lamb and beef steaks at the Market this Saturday - considerably earlier in the season than folks might expect. Plenty of other meats, eggs, honey, and several kinds of goat cheeses will round out the farm-raised stuff.

(Intrigued by all the produce but flummoxed by the idea of doing something with it? I highly recommend this cookbook - it's gotten me through some dicey produce times)

Prepared foods will include lots of baked goods - most of the folks you've gotten used to seeing in seasons past will be out there. One notable exception is Stewart Pequignot, the gent who was responsible for some of the best bagels to grace C-U (along with other great breads). Stewart's fine, but due to time and other constraints, he's no longer selling at the Market. We will miss him so.

:: moment of silence ::

We'll also have a brand new gluten-free baker - the Baking Bakers - and word on the street is that their stuff is EXCELLENT. Go visit them on Facebook, why don't ya? At the Market, they'll be in Row 5 (the row closest to Vine Street) next to local sprout purveyors Tiny Greens.

If you're interested in locally-made bean-to-bar chocolate, Flatlander Chocolate is your guy. If you need something hot to eat and you're a vegetarian, look for Veggie Trails at the south end of Row 5 - he'll have everything you need, from breakfast burritos to chili.
If you're looking for plants and flowers, you'll have many to choose from (including vegetable starts). Want some wearable art? How about some non-wearable art? You'll find both at the Market. On May 1. Which is, as of this writing, IN TWO DAYS.

This will do for now. We want to see you out there May 1!

:: Looking ahead - the May 8 Market is already looking to break some kind of record for vendor attendance - stay tuned. May 8 will also be the day we debut our new credit/debit and LINK machine - as of that day, you'll be able to use plastic (well, Market tokens in lieu of plastic) in addition to cash and checks to pay for your Market goodies
. Questions about this or any of the Market's other initiatives? Drop me a line or call 217-384-2319. ::