Thursday, August 30, 2012

When It Rains...

The heat of the summer returned to us for a bit last week, just in time to herald the re-entry of the University Illinois students, faculty, and staff. It was a lovely day.

Things looked FANTASTIC. The crowd was great, Art at the Market was well-received, music was in the air, as were the scents of tuberose, essential oils, and kettle corn...

It looks like our unbelievable streak of sunny skies might be coming to an end this weekend, however. But don't let a little rain get you down! As we like to remind folks, produce doesn't mind getting wet, and your farmers will all be out there selling the freshest and finest in seasonal farm-raised, local produce. You know you need some tomatoes, some peppers, some basil, some cucumbers, some greens, some onions, some beans, etc, so keep an eye on the skies and don some galoshes and an unbrella if need be - we're out there rain or shine, every weekend.


We'd like to welcome Natalie Kenny-Marquez to the Market fold - she'll be handling the Market's on-site and internal administrative operations as of 9/4. Take a swing by the Market tent on 9/8 and tell her hello!

Next week's programming: There's a Bike Rodeo in Lot 24 (that's just south of the Market site, along Illinois Street) - bring your youngster by to check out the activities! 9-11:30 AM.

Future programming: The next Sprouts event will be on September 15, and the final event of the season, with the Great Pumpkin Patch, will be on October 6. The next Art at the Market event will be September 29, and the final Arts event of the season will be on 10/13.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Warm Welcome - Literally

We're expecting summer to rear its head again this weekend. More on that in a second - let's reminisce about how cool and sunny last weekend was.

OK, yes, we're expecting plenty of sun this weekend, and it'll be slightly warmer than it has been, but what better way to welcome new students - and their families - to the University of Illinois and Urbana than to take them to the Market, followed by a trip to the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival? The Festival starts Friday night and then is on again Saturday morning at 11 AM, while we get started at 7 AM Saturday and go until noon. Should be a busy day around downtown Urbana. The food will certainly be in generous supply! 

Seriously, though, the Market is all about continuing to create the U-C's local food culture, and our new residents can be a huge part of that. There's a story about the Market and its place in the local food scene here.

This week's programming: This week we're offering up the August installment of Art at the Market! The I.D.E.A. Store will be on hand to lead a continuous art workshop for patrons of all ages. The event is completely free and will be happening at the NW entrance to the Market at the City tent from 8-noon. Musical guests the Adura Trio will be playing from 9:30-11:30 in the same area. Free iced coffee, courtesy of Einstein's, will be located at the beverage tent just inside the Market's NW entrance.

Next week: The Urbana Free Library will be onsite, as will the Community Blood Services of Illinois' BloodMobile.

Hope to see friends - old and new! - at the Market this weekend!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Forecast: Perfect (Again)

A pretty serious thunderstorm is raging outside as this is being written (it's Thursday afternoon), but the weather will be straight-up awesome by the time Saturday morning rolls around, just like it was last weekend. Evidence:

It was just a great Market day - the finest this season so far. The produce was gorgeous, people lingered over food-truck breakfasts - there really isn't a better way to spend a Saturday morning, especially when the weather's good. 

Fortunately, we can expect more of the same this weekend. To welcome returning U of I students, faculty, and staff, there will be more gorgeous produce, more food truck breakfasts, beautiful arts & crafts, performers, community organizations, and Sprouts at the Market, which this weekend will focus on the mighty tomato. The event is continuous from 9-11 AM, and is geared toward kids ages 3-8. Art Mart Toys will honor all certificates of completion (every kid who visits all the Sprouts stations will receive one) for a 25% discount in the store on Saturday, too! It's win/win for the kids. For more info about Sprouts this weekend (and future weekends), click here.

It's just looking good, friends. Hope to see you out there this weekend!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Forecast: Perfect

Did you miss it? The weather last weekend was acting like it was early July all over again, but Market patrons came out in force anyway and partook in the following:

We also had a book signing with author Janine MacLachlan, who wrote about the Market in her book, Farmers Markets of the Heartland:

We're now past the halfway point of the Market season - hard to believe, isn't it? In some ways it feels like it should be later in the season (the heat has done a number on everyone, it seems), but in others it feels like we're just getting started with the food.

Speaking of food: 

1. Peach lovers need to know this: Saturday is the last day you'll see the folks from Eberlin's Orchard and Sager Farms (both are from way the heck down there in southern Illinois) and their peaches. The heat of the season got things started early, and that means they're ending a bit early, too. Other growers will continue to have peaches for a bit, but Sager Farm and the Eberlins are perennial Market favorites and have been for many years. We thought Market regulars might like to know.

2. Corn lovers need to know this: Kleiss Produce, Roth Countryside Produce, Schottman Sweet Corn, and possibly one or two other vendors will have sweet corn in varying amounts. Boil it, steam it, grill it, eat it raw - just get some. It's so good and we're lucky to have any at all because of the drought.

3. Tomato lovers need to know this: Heirloom tomatoes are coming on something fierce. Growers are carrying varieties in colors, shapes, and patterns we never thought possible. There's just nothing like a fresh heirloom tomato. Pick up a few different ones and have a taste test - the nuances are amazing!

4. Nothing says "summer is still in effect, dang it" like MELONS. Meyer Produce and Kleiss Produce both have a variety of melons, large & small - other growers might, too. 

5. Food trucks are in Row 5. This week we expect Fryer Tuck, Cracked, Burrito King, and the Moo Mobile. Community organizations are also in Row 5 - it's the new Market hangout!

Market programming in August:

- 8/11: The BloodMobile will be in the parking lot just west of the Market site from around 7:30-11:30

- 8/18: Sprouts at the Market is on the docket. This month's theme: The almighty tomato. Free, kids ages 3-8, 9-11 AM. Check in at the Sprouts tent near the NW entrance to the Market.

- 8/25: Art at the Market is happening! The I.D.E.A Store is in charge of the workshop, which is free and open to the public, from 8-noon. The Aduro Trio will provide music on Walnut Street from 9:30-11:30, and Einstein's Bagels will provide free iced coffee after 8 AM, while supplies last.

See you out there!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Eats, Summer Reads

We were so busy last weekend that nary a photograph was taken, unfortunately. Well, there was one - of gorgeous, fabulously-scented tuberose from the Oosterhoffs:

It's the busy season at the Market, and this weekend will be no exception (although we'll try much harder to get some photos taken). You won't find a wider variety of fresh food at the Market than in August, so best grab an extra shopping bag before you leave the house. That extra bag might be just for sweet corn and tomatoes.

Fear not - if you get hungry while you're visiting us, you're in luck - we'll have quite the array of food trucks in Row 5, including the Crave Truck (EDIT: Crave Truck won't be with us this weekend, but will return 8/11!), the Moo Mobile, Burrito King's truck, and the brand-new Cracked truck. Fryer Tuck's with us, too, located at the south end of the row, along Illinois Street. YUM.

This is also happening, along with visits from the Urbana Free Library and the Urbana Business Association:

Writer (and Jill of many kitchen/food trades) Janine MacLachlan will be at the Market this Saturday to shop, talk farmers' markets with patrons, and sign copies of her new book, Farmers' Markets of the Heartland,  published by the U of I Press. She'll be near the NW entrance at the Market from 9:30-11:30, and she'll be ready to chat with you. Come visit and have a look at her book if you haven't seen it - your local market is prominently featured in the "Illinois" section, but if you're from other midwestern states, you might find a market or two that you know featured in the book as well. We're lucky to have her - don't miss!