I’m writing this on a Friday, and as of right now we have two Champaign Farmers’ Markets under our belts. And in my case, I mean that literally. We’ve quickly discovered that it’s pretty hard to be surrounded by gorgeous produce and not go buy some. We naturally spend time walking around the booths, and the stuff our farmers are selling really is too good to pass up. I brought home quite a haul this week, including scallions, radishes, and asparagus. Those have been eaten already, except for a couple radishes. I’ll get to those tomorrow, probably.One of the best things about this new market we’ve started is that it gives local farmers another place to sell what they grow. That includes farmers who have completed our Farm Beginnings training course. Two of the vendors at this week’s Market were Farm Beginnings alumni, and a third graduate came to visit (and bought armfuls of asparagus). It was terrific to see folks who have gotten their start with us come and sell their product at our Market.
This gets at something essential about what The Land Connection does. We’re involved in several places along the chain that connects farmers pursuing sustainable food production with the public who buy and enjoy the end results. Whether that means helping to put farmland in the hands of those who want to use it sustainably, training aspiring farmers in successful practices, or creating a market for farmers products, we’re here to ease the way. It’s a view that respects the process, not just the end results. I find that very appealing personally, and I’m glad to be a part of it.
On a related note, this was also the week that my hometown of Bloomington received the news that Green Top Grocery, a brand new food co-op, had announced the location of their new store. Food co-ops are another great place for local farmers to sell, so this is great news for us. As a longtime member of Common Ground Food Co-Op here in Champaign-Urbana, I’m thrilled that my hometown can look forward to the kind of great food options I’ve enjoyed for years. The fact that the new store is next to the Beer Nuts building is just icing on the cake.
Lastly, here’s my asparagus from the Market, cooked in olive oil and lemon juice with lots of garlic and a little thyme. Yep, it was incredible!