Thursday, July 26, 2012

Peaking Long, Peaking Strong

We've entered peak season at the Market. It's when we have the most farm-raised food at the Market, the most art, the most prepared food, the most people, the most activities, etc. This time of year at the Market is, well, THE MOST.

Here are some scenes from last week, in case you missed it in its not-quite-as-sweltering glory. There were a lot of scenes - click on them to enlarge!

Things will look much the same this weekend, only with more of everything. More melons (not just watermelons, but lovely cantaloupes and honeydews from Kleiss Produce), more corn, more tomatoes (LOTS of heirlooms), more peaches, more gorgeous vegetables (o, the peppers!). It's outdoor feasting season. There is so much food. We were just talking in the office about how we need to gorge ourselves and/or preserve what we have available locally, because even though it's hot and things are abundant, the season is relatively short, and this summer's dicey weather has made things even more uncertain. EAT LOCAL FOOD, PEOPLE! It tastes SO good.

The Market will be humming with other activity this weekend too:

Urbana Land Arts will be doing the art workshop for Saturday's Art at the Market event from 8-noon. Anyone of any age can participate! Live music will be provided near the Arts tent by the Michael Fenoglio Trio from 9:30 - 11:30, and Einstein's Bagels will be providing self-serve iced coffee at our beverage tent, free of charge, while supplies last. Look for all the action near the NW entrance to the Market.

See you there!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Height of Summer

It's here. The middle of summer, those days when the sky is brassy and it refuses to rain and the insects whine during the day and it's just plain hot out, like let's-immerse-ourselves-in-a-swimming-pool kind of hot, is here. And actually, it feels like it's been here for awhile already. 

Lo, here's just a sampling of what you can find at the Market this time of year.

That's not even including the amazing stone fruit, tomatoes, cukes, and summer squash. And beans. And onions. And... well, everything. This is the time of year when everything's around

We anticipate a warm, but not heat-advisory warm, day on Saturday. In fact, the low Friday night is forecast to be a "chilly" 61 degrees and frankly, we think the day is going to be absolutely sunny and perfect.

GOOD NEWS: Schottman Sweet Corn, from Effingham, IL, will be at the Market this weekend. It's been dry this summer, as you know, so sweet corn has been slow in coming from those folks, but you'll see their truck at the south end of the Market in the third row, just like always.

SPECIAL EVENT: It'll be a great day for Sprouts at the Market, which starts at 9 and runs continuously until 11. 

The focus this month is on nutrition, so there'll be lots of tasting at the tables. Kids will receive bonus MyPlate stickers and temporary tattoos for visiting all the Sprouts tables, plus a Sprouts certificate good for a discount at Art Mart Toys all day. The Sprouts tent will be located by the City tent and the Chambanamoms tent at the NW entrance to the Market.

We're really looking forward to being at the Market this weekend in slightly cooler temps. Make sure you make us your first stop on a busy Saturday!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

So Hot, We Missed A Post

Apologies for the lack of posting last week. Our brains must have been fried from the heat in the days leading up to what was surely one of the hottest Market days ever. There were still beautiful produce and beautiful things at the Market, though (click to enlarge images):

We survived to tell the tale, and in great style. This weekend's weather promises to be cooler, with maybe even a slight chance of rain later in the day. Rain is not usually a word we welcome when talking about Market days, but it's so badly needed by our farmers that we're OK with it.

Don't get us wrong - there's plenty of food at the Market. It's been a booming season for fresh produce, actually, and lots of our farmers irrigate to ensure production for the markets and for local restaurants. But eating local often means we eaters are experiencing food a little differently.

Market sweet corn farmer Mark Schottman told us this over the phone this morning: If you're uncomfortable, the corn is, too. Mark's from Effingham, IL, about 90 miles south of U-C, and they've had less rain than we have. If you've been missing him at the Market, the very hot weather and the lack of rain have made it nearly impossible for him to get a sweetcorn crop together. He's irrigating as best he can, and he's hoping he can make it to the Market next week (7/21), but a lot depends on rain moving in and temperatures not being so hot. 

Moral of the story: The appearance of food at your farmers market, whether it's in Urbana or somewhere else, is heavily dependent on the weather. The corn crop - and there is sweet corn at the Market from Kleiss  Produce and Roth Countryside Produce, but they need it to rain, too - is just part of the story. Central Illinois lost its stone fruit crop to a late freeze this year, and southern Illinois may have its peach season cut short this season due to drought and heat. The weather makes all the difference... year-round.