Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Market at the Square/Scare

Halloween is just about upon us, readers. I imagine that by the time Saturday arrives, many of you (or the youngsters in your life) will be wanting to take that costume out for a test run. May I suggest dressing up for this weekend's Market? From 9 AM - noon, we'll have treats from Common Ground, candy, and possibly some apple cider to celebrate Market at the Scare. Costumes are encouraged. We'll take your photo. Some of the vendors bring candy and cookies to hand out to kids in costumes. And... the weather will be the best we've had on Halloween weekend in recent memory. What's not to like?

Also this weekend: Art at the Market from 8 AM - noon! It's the last installment for the 2010 season. This month we've got local artist Jessica Roberts - she's conducting a "plantable paper-making" workshop that's open to patrons of all ages, and is completely free. Many thanks to Urbana's Public Arts Program for sponsoring these very popular events this season, and we hope to work with them again in 2011.

One other special event this Saturday - we have Professor May Berenbaum of the Entomology Department at the University of Illinois coming in to sign copies of her new book, Honey, I'm Homemade, from 9 AM - 11 AM. We'll have copies of the book for sale for $20, tax included (that's more than a couple bucks off the list price), PLUS Prof. Berenbaum will sign your book! We'll also have information about every honey vendor at the Market this Saturday at Prof. Berenbaum's table. Check 'em out - they may have samples to try and/or cool things to look at. Bees are awesome! Honey is yum! Lay in your winter supply!

One of our growers, Jon Cherniss of Blue Moon Farm, mentioned in a recent email update that it's not about what's in season - it's about what isn't? There's more fresh food available now than ever - make sure you shop all four rows of the Market (yep, 4 - we shrink it down when vendor attendance starts to dip) to see everything that's available. Recommended fruits and vegetables: carrots and other root vegetables (we saw some daikon radishes that were as long as a 4 year-old kid's leg), salad greens, apples, squashes. There may be a few tomatoes straggling in, but with the forecast hard freeze on Thursday night, it's iffy. Fret not - there's also plenty of goat cheese, eggs, and meat to round out those veggie/fruit purchases.

All in all, we couldn't ask for a better weekend for the next-to-last Market of the season. Looking forward to seeing everyone out there!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Said Orange

Okay, procrastinators. It's time.

There is no better time than right now to get your Halloween pumpkins for jack-o-lanterning, and there is no better place to procure them than Urbana's Market at the Square. The traditional pumpkins for carving are abundant, but growers also offer more... unusual permutations of pumpkin in all different colors and shapes and sizes. Get a little weird with your decorations this season!

Also, it's worth mentioning that the fall produce is absolutely gorgeous this season. The greens are incredibly lush, the carrots are beyond sweet, the potatoes and sweet potatoes have incredible depth of flavor, the scent of apples on the breeze is incredible...

The weather is not forecast to be very cooperative for this weekend, but I'm going to be an optimist and say that we'll dodge those raindrops. Here's one reason why - our final Sprouts at the Market event is scheduled for this weekend, and we're really excited about it. This event will be co-presented with the Eastern Illinois Foodbank as they close out their annual Food For Families activities, and the goal here is to teach kids ages 3-8 a little about food insecurity in our area and what they can do to help. As with other Sprouts activities, there will be several tables throughout the Market kids can visit, sample locally-grown fruits and vegetables, and learn a thing or two about local food and our food system. We do ask that everyone sign in at the main Sprouts tent, which will be next to the City tent at the northwest entrance to the Market. The event is totally free and goes from 9 AM - 11 AM.

The Market will look different this weekend. As we head toward the close of the season, vendor attendance drops, and we consolidate the Market in order to prevent gaps and to encourage people to shop the whole Market. We did our best to transpose Row 5 vendors into Row 4, but a few are in other places throughout the Market. If you're missing someone PLEASE ASK! Market staff are more than happy to help you locate your favorite vendors.

One more thing - don't forget that the Urbana Business Association's Holiday Market picks up on 11/13 where Market at the Square leaves off on 11/6. They'll be open inside Lincoln Square Mall from 8 AM - 1 PM through 12/18. Produce vendors, art and crafts folks, Santa Claus, music, and much more will be featured at this Market - it's so great to know that you'll be able to buy fresh, local food at this Market right up until the holidays.

Market geeks: Get your fill of 2008's and 2009's annual reports here!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Deeper Into Autumn

Pictured above are scenes from this past weekend's Market. Stuff to look for this weekend, in addition to what you see above - your Halloween jack-o-lantern, carrots of several colors, spinach (so sweet right now), kales, onions, sweet potatoes, squash, apples and pears... it's definitely fall.

I'm strapped for time, today, so I urge you to look at last week's entry to get more information about this weekend's Eat Here booth, and next weekend's Sprouts event (and UHS Orchestra event). On October 30th, we'll be hosting Market at the Scare (costumes encouraged!), the season's final installment of Art at the Market, and a book signing with Professor May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois. Her book is called Honey, I'm Homemade and is all about bees, honey, and cooking with honey. More information about the book signing and other activities forthcoming - it's a really cute book and we're thrilled to be working with the University of Illinois Press on this project.
Market Menu:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Home Stretch

After 3 seasons as the Market's Boss-Lady, I can safely say that it's the weather that always does it to me. It really stresses me out sometimes. Only occasionally deos the weather do me wrong, like it did last weekend when the heavens opened up while we were getting everything set up and lo, rain cameth down in buckets. At 6:15 AM, it was pouring, it was ridiculous, and all I could do, really, was laugh and hope that the rain left us, which it did (the significantly-less-stressful wind arrived shortly thereafter - another story for another time, perhaps). I have not wept this season.

This weekend, it looks like the weather is going to do me (and, by extension, YOU) right. I know, that's what they said last week, but this time I believe them. 84 unseasonably balmy degrees and sunny this Saturday, Market-lovers. It should be splendid. Soak it up, peeps, because we won't have this weather for too much longer.

So, let's talk about food for a few minutes. As you know, fall is here and the fall food has been in effect for a few weeks now, while summer stubbornly hangs on with its tomatoes and its peppers and its melons and its cucumbers. While all of those things will be findable this weekend, they are most definitely on the wane; fall produce is in firm control now. Notably, that produce includes fennel, broccoli, various cabbages, bok choi, winter squashes, apples, onions, potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes, salad lettuces and other greens, spinach, kales and chard, carrots, and much more. After the heat of this summer and the occasional restrictions that can put on the menu (who turns on the oven when it's 95 degrees outside??), it's going to taste good to get down to the business of preparing pies, tarts, galettes, roasted vegetable dishes, soups, and more. I guarantee you the spread at the Market will serve to inspire. Come look!

As for stuff happening at the Market - this week we have U-Cycle, Urbana's recycling program, out to talk about all things recycling with a little bit of Landscape Recycling thrown in. She'll be there from 8-11:30 at the U-Cycle tent at the northwest entrance to the Market. Also, the University of Illinois' Physics Department (maybe even a couple of Nobel Prize-winners) will be on hand to provide Locally Grown Science. Bring your science questions to them in the Community Groups row between 8 AM and noon.

Next week, it's our final installment of Eat Here, our programming designed to educate consumers about the myriad benefits of shopping your farmers markets for locally-produced foods. Stop by the Eat Here tent, located at the northwest entrance to the Market, on 10/16 for more information.

Sprouts at the Market's last installment is happening 10/23, and is a collaboration between the Market and the Eastern Illinois Foodbank. Bring your Sprout to the Market that day to participate in a food-insecurity scavenger hunt and to try a few vegetables in season. more information about this event will be available soon, but mark your calenders for 10/23, 9-11 AM!

That same day, the Urbana High School String Orchestras will be playing at the Market, also from 9-11 AM. They'll be playing on Walnut Street, which is the barricaded area located just west of the Market.

The Market's final day is Saturday, November 6. Starting November 13, the Urbana Business Association starts hosting the Holiday Market inside Lincoln Square Mall. The Holiday Market will run from 11/13 - 12/18, 8 AM - 1 PM. Many of Market at the Square's vendors/growers participate in this market, so please check it out!

Lots going on as we close in on the end of our season - come visit while the weather's good and the produce is plentiful!