Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's Farmers Market Week!

We love the fact that there's an entire week dedicated to farmers markets - to the growing, purchasing, and consuming of local foods, to commerce and relationship between producer and consumer, to encouraging people to get out and socialize and see what else is in the area. Farmers markets are great for everyone. Here's how the Farmers Market Coalition (we're proud members) has laid it out:

Seven Days, Seven Ways to Celebrate Farmers Market Impacts
Sunday, August 7thFarmers markets and community education
Innovative partnerships that allow markets to serve as hubs of information
Monday, August 8thFarmers markets and public health 
Promoting good nutrition and healthful habits
Tuesday, August 9th Farmers markets as economic engines
Business incubation, job development, and local spending
Wednesday, August 10thFarmers at the center of the system
Governance and policies that put farmers first
Thursday, August 11thFarmers markets and food equity
Improving access to healthful foods in underserved neighborhoods
Friday, August 12thFarmers markets and civic engagement
Growing social capital and engaging volunteers
Saturday, August 13thFarmers markets and rural renewal
Supporting agricultural diversity and farm viability, while inspiring a new generation of producers

Good stuff. It's all really important to us, but the food equity piece is especially important. We've been accepting the LINK card since 2010, and in 2011 season we received a grant to double the number of LINK tokens requested by patrons using their LINK card - up to $20 per card, per Market day. This is a great way for people receiving LINK benefits to stretch resources, and for farmers and food producers to get their foods into new households. Win-win! For more information about the new LINK Double Value program, click here. The program's debut is this weekend.

[And, yes, that photo of peaches on the page linked above was taken at our market!]

This weekend's weather is suddenly starting to look a little touchy. Of course, you'd never let a little rain stop you from snapping up the best in-season locally grown stuff, would you?

And  even though we're all about the food for Farmer Market Week, don't forget that our prepared food vendors and our artisans contribute hugely to making the Market what it is today. You have to explore all five rows to get the real idea.

Also this weekend:

It's our annual corn event for Sprouts at the Market. Sprouts is nutrition and farm linkage programming for kids ages 3-8 - it starts at 9, runs until 11, is completely free, and features samples of corn in its many forms and lots of cool facts about corn. All kids finishing all tables at the Market receive a Certificate of Participation, which they can then take over to Art Mart Toys for a 20% discount. NOTE: If it's raining at 8:30 on Saturday or rain is imminent, we'll be canceling the event. Stay tuned for a possible rain date.

Community groups participating this week on the west side of the Market: Vet Med, Chambana Moms, Urbana Business Association, Eastern Illinois Foodbank, Sierra Club, CIMIC, UP Center, The Land Connection, Habitat For Humanity, and several others. These folks have their finger on the pulse of what's happening in our area, and are especially good resources if you're looking for volunteer opportunities this fall. Check them out!

Finally, a warm welcome/welcome back to U of I students and faculty. Best wishes for a great semester - we hope to see you out at the Market each Saturday through November 5!

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