Market Watch: July 2022: Food and Drink: Smile Politely


Shopping CU Farmers Markets are a great way to spend a Saturday morning or Tuesday afternoon. I like to go early before it gets too hot – or before all the raspberries are gone.

Last week, I browsed both markets and found new vendors like Culinary Greens, an Urbana microgreens farm, and The Little Farm of Weldon Springs which sells edible greens, herbs and flowers. I saw lovely cakes from Berries and Flour, vibrant tomatoes from Fruitful Vines, and the special breakfast menu from Watson’s food truck.

There’s a lot to love at the markets in July: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, apples, peaches, sweet corn, melons, greens, cauliflower, okra, potatoes, tomatoes, pastries, meat, cheese, bread, cold brew, kombucha, and so many green beans.

The Urbana Market at the Square opens every Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to noon in the Lincoln Square Mall parking lot, and the Champaign Farmers’ Market is open every Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Downtown Champaign parking lot M.

Here’s what I saw last week in the markets.

Baskets of orange and red tomatoes from Fruitful Vines are on sale at Urbana Market in the square.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Tomato is the perfect summer food. I picked tomatoes from Fruitful Vines, a small farm in Sullivan, Illinois. Fruitful Vines’ main crop is tomatoes. The tomatoes were perfectly cut with Mozz and balsamic glaze.

Green beans are in a brown woven basket for sale in the market.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I saw a lot of green beans in the markets.

Four overflowing containers of green beans sit on a white shelf at the market.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There were so many green beans in the market that I felt inspired to buy some.

In a gray bin there are many green beans in the market.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

For me, green beans from a CU farm taste better than those from Meijer. These green beans from the market are freshly picked and have a good crunch. I like to cut the stems with scissors, then sauté the beans with butter, salt and pepper for an easy summer side dish.

At the market, there are white shelves with a few baskets of potatoes and green beans.  In the background, shoppers shop at Urbana Market in the square.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Red potatoes are in season, and I picked up a little basket. I had planned to make a potato salad, but instead I ended up cutting the potatoes in half and roasting them with chopped radishes. There are so many recipes for cooking with red potatoes, so if potatoes at the market sound good to you, buy a basket and figure out what to do next.

On a table there are plastic containers with vegetables for sale.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

So many things are in season right now. This month, sweet corn hits the market. Tegeler Sweetcorn will have a truckload of unhulled Illinois sweet corn at the Urbana Marketplace in the plaza starting July 9.

In a large gray plastic container there are cauliflower heads.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

It is also cauliflower season at the market. I like the look of market cauliflower with big leaves still attached, and I especially like that it’s not wrapped in plastic.

At the Urbana market in the square, shoppers line up to buy fresh vegetables.  A white woman carries two cabbages and smiles.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Outdoor markets can get busy at times. Popular vendors have long lines, and sometimes joining that line is the best way to find your next favorite marketplace purchase.

On a black and white checkered tablecloth there are containers of orange cherry tomatoes, blackberries and raspberries.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The berries sell quickly in the markets. This photo was taken barely an hour after the market opened, and there was only one box of raspberries left at Meyer Produce. At the markets, early risers get the berries.

Beneath a green tent is the owner of Culinary Greens smiling at the camera behind his table of live mirogreen trays and wood products for sale.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

At the Urbana Market in the plaza, I found microgreens from Culinary Greens, a new Urbana company that specializes in live platters of microgreens.

On a white table, there are two trays of live microgreens.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I picked up a container of Culinary Greens Microgreens Mix ($5) which had a mixture of broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, arugula, and red cabbage microgreens. I liked it! Microgreens had a lot in such a small leaf. There was a slight bitter taste but the bright, fresh flavor of the herbs was fantastic. I put these micro greens on pizzas, sandwiches and salads. Even my kids love it too.

On a lace tablecloth there are mini cakes for sale at the market.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

At both markets, you can find Berries & Flour selling creative baked goods by baker extraordinaire Heidi Leuszler. Savor a miniature cake in flavors like peaches and cream, banana papaya, lemon elderflower, and more. Flavors change, but the inventive combinations of foods Leuszler seeks out in the prairies and forests of the Midwest are always tasty. In addition to cakes, Berries & Flour also sells syrups and shrubs. You can order a full size cake online or join the cake subscription club to get one cake per month.

Under a white tent at the Champaign Farmers' Market, there is a table from The Little Farm of Weldon Springs.  The table has a flowered tablecloth and a small crop for sale.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There is a new farm in Champaign Market called The Little Farm of Weldon Springs. The small farm sells fresh oregano, Swiss chard, chop suey vegetables, Tong Ho chrysanthemum, borage flowers and bunches of sorrel, a leafy lemon-flavored herb.

In a wicker basket, flowers wrapped in plastic are for sale with a sign saying Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I bought a bunch of borage flowers ($2) at Weldon Springs Little Farm. The farmer said that borage was a blue flower that tasted like cucumber. I like cucumber, so I was sold. I served it as a side dish and it was delicious. It had a refreshing cucumber flavor and also tasted like watermelon.

In the Urbana Market parking lot in the plaza, Watson's food truck is parked with two white customers waiting to order.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Watson’s food truck was at Urbana Market, and I was so excited to try the breakfast menu. The truck offered market specialties: chicken and waffles, a bagel sandwich, a cream cheese bagel and Cajun hash brown bites.

On an orange slotted outdoor table, there's a paper basket of hash browns and a bagel sandwich from Watson's food truck.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I ordered the bagel sandwich ($8). The sandwich had bacon, eggs and cheese in a plain New York water bagel. It was fantastic and a perfect breakfast. The bagel was the best part: perfectly moist and deliciously fresh. The bacon was thick and the egg was soft and well seasoned. The cheese was melted and oozed out of the bagel – but I like a cheese bite so thought this was awesome. Cajun hashbrown bites ($4) were hot soft potato cubes with a great crispy exterior. I’m not sure I’ve tasted the Cajun seasonings, but I still liked the hash browns. Find Watson’s food truck at the Urbana market on the square on July 2, 16 and 30.

In Downtown Champaign's M parking lot, there is a giant Connect Four game.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The Land Connection’s Champaign Farmer’s Market offers lots of fun (free!) activities for kids on Tuesday afternoons in downtown Champaign. They have a giant Connect Four game, bubbles, coloring activities, sidewalk chalk and a splatter table. Each month, the Champaign Farmers’ Market offers free cooking kits with ingredients and a simple recipe for kids. This month’s kits for kids will include a recipe for Fruity Power Balls, and the kits can be picked up on July 26, the last Tuesday of the month. Compassionate Crumbs will provide the recipe.

Additionally, the Champaign Tuesday Market will have SNAP Ed at the market on July 5 and 19. The organization will organize a scavenger hunt for children around CU. SNAP Ed is a pilot project to help families eat, move and save. The goal is for children and their families to eat fresh fruits and vegetables (eat), visit parks (move), and learn how to use SNAP dollars at Champaign Market (save). You can learn more about the U of I program here or stop by the table at the Champaign Farmer’s Market.

In a large gray plastic container there are many heads of cabbage for sale.  Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Urbana Market at Square Infos

The Urbana Market has been in continuous operation since 1979. The market runs from May 7 to October 29, every Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to noon, rain or shine. It is located at the corner of Illinois and Vine in Urbana.

Payment methods : Cash, credit, debit or SNAP.

SNAP/LINK: Vendors selling LINK-eligible foods accept LINK tokens. Please visit Urbana’s Market at the Square website for details, or the on-site information tent.

Car park: Free parking is available in the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Square Mall and the lot south of Illinois Street. Bike parking is also available at the entrances to the mall and in the bike corral area after entering the market off Illinois.

Pets: Pets are not allowed. Thank you for respecting the rules of the market and leaving your doggie at home.

Social media: You can follow the Market on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Sign up here to receive weekly market emails.

The Land Connection Champagne Growers Market

The Land Connection Champagne Farmers Market is in its seventh year. The Champaign Market is open on Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. from May 17. The Champaign Farmers Market will be held in the M parking lot in downtown Champaign in Neil and Washington.

Forms of payment: Pre-order, cash, credit cards, debit cards or SNAP/EBT cards.

SNAP/LINK: All eligible providers accept SNAP benefits through the LINK token program. Please visit The Land Connection website for more details.

Car park: Metered parking is available in the M parking lot or on the Hill Street parking deck.

Pets: Dogs on a leash are welcome.

Social media: Follow The Earth Connection on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram, or see the website for more information.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.


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