August is upon us. We’re on the cusp of peak farmers market season. The trifecta is here (peaches, sweet corn, and tomatoes). We see whole rainbows of peppers and cherry tomatoes around the market. I’ve spotted at least 4 different types of eggplants, and this coming Tuesday a pickup full of watermelons is rolling in… It’s time to celebrate farmers markets in all their glory as we head into National Farmers Market Week (August 5-11, 2018).Instead of me going on and on about what I love at my own baby, the Champaign Farmers Market (so many things, but number #1 is definitely the people…and the dogs…and of course the food), I’ve asked our farmers, sponsors, volunteers, market regulars, and other community supporters what they like best about our little market.
Here’s what they had to say…
“I love knowing that fresh and healthy food is available within easy walking distance for everyone who lives (or like me, works) downtown. I also enjoy the ease of shopping at a smaller market where you can really develop a relationship with the vendors.” -Reverend Beth Maynard, Champaign Farmers Market sponsor and regular shopper since our very first season (Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church)
“Our market is quaint and family friendly!” -Molly Oberg, local farmer and Champaign Farmers Market vendor since our very first season (Meyer Produce)
“Sola Gratia Farm loves selling at the Champaign Farmers Market because the market managers are committed to improving food access and encouraging healthy eating with an active sampling booth, excellent recipe/cooking instructional cards and a generous and easy-to-use SNAP matching program.” -Traci Barkley, local farmer and Director of Sola Gratia Farm, an Urbana farm and non-profit dedicated to combatting food insecurity in Champaign-Urbana.
“The farmers market has a wonderful energy and has been a great venue for meeting people, listening to their stories, and sharing our farm fresh products.” -Patty Gray, local farmer and new vendor at the market this season (Harvest Table Foods)
“I love that I can buy my week’s worth of fresh local produce easily in Champaign. I love the fantastic group of vendors I am part of. I love that it is small and focused on produce. I love the sampling table! Such great ideas to use the produce I can buy, and local talent! I love that everyone is so kind and wonderful with my daughter.” -Heidi Leuszler, local baker and market vendor since 2017 (Berries & Flour)”I love this market because it’s small, but high quality. It really is a farmers market. All the vendors are extremely nice, knowledgeable, and helpful.” -Della Jacobs, Illinois Nutrition Education Programs
“The interaction with the customers. You get to know the people who regularly come and develop friendships.” -Dee, Illinois Nutrition Education Program
“The produce is amazing! I have found it to be the best tasting and freshest fruits and vegetables I have ever had. It has also opened me up to try new things I have never tried before.” -Jenny, Illinois Nutrition Education Program”Having fresh foods available in the heart of downtown is a great benefit to our community – it’s convenient, accessible, and the environment is always fun and inviting. More importantly, it helps to create a culture of food awareness and enjoyment in knowing where your food comes from, and who is involved in getting it on your plate. You meet the people who own the farms and make the bread and popsicles and soaps and goodies – there’s so much and so many wonderful people involved in that process. Family activities center around food and it’s nice to have a closer link to our families and our food providers – it brings real and tangible meaning to words like community and sustainability and you can feel that energy and interest grow in people with events like the Champaign Farmers Market. It seems like a farmers market is a fundamental interaction to a provide in a growing, forward-thinking, and sustainably minded city and it’s nice to see that supported here.” -Elise Frost, market shopper
“My favorite thing about the market? Being a part of something that brings the community together.” -Kacey Nelson, local beekeeper and farmer, Champaign Farmers Market vendor for 3 seasons (Two Million Blooms)”My favorite thing about the Champaign market is talking to people about what they are going to cook with what they are buying from us. At Prosperity Gardens, we grow a lot of okra, and I love talking to people about how they prepare it, I’ve probably heard at least 12 different ways.” -Nicole Musumeci, local farmer and Executive Director of Prosperity Gardens (Champaign Farmers Market vendors since our very first season)