Farmers markets across central Illinois are kicking off in May and June, providing residents with new options for not only finding farm-fresh fare, but also opportunities to support local businesses and create a sense of place within the community.
In addition to year-round staples like meats, eggs, honey, cheese, jams, and baked goods, shoppers can expect to find a wide variety of seasonal produce available on opening dates, including asparagus, rhubarb, radishes, kale, spinach, and greens in early May, with strawberries, beets, carrots, and peas coming on later in the month. Farmers markets also provide an excellent venue for gardeners looking for unique and heirloom vegetable starts to add to their gardens this year.
A round-up of opening dates is featured below:
Note: this is not a comprehensive list
For clickable links to more information about each market, check out the .PDF version here:
The wide variety of fresh and sustainably-grown products (check with individual farmers to determine farming practices) make farmers markets ideal for health-minded individuals, but savvy shoppers will be happy to know that prices on seasonal produce generally fall in line with retail store prices as evidenced by the Illinois Farmers Market Reports compiled by the University of Kentucky Center for Crop Diversification. In addition, for every $100 spent at a farmers market, $62 stays within the local community, and $99 stays within the state according to the National Farmers Market Coalition. The dollars spent at a farmers market are a direct investment in local farms and businesses that build strong local economies.
On top of local produce, farmers markets also showcase artisans, hometown musicians, and a wide variety of informational and educational activities hosted by local community groups and businesses.
Opening day activities are planned by many farmers markets,” says Molly Gleason, Illinois Stewardship Alliance Communications Director and coordinator of the Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Illinois chapter organizer. “The Land Connection Farmers Market in Champaign is hosting a scavenger hunt involving their signature eggplant logo and local businesses, while the Old Capitol Farmers Market in Springfield will have free cake for all patrons from long time vendor Incredibly Delicious. In Bloomington, patrons can sign up at the market for the Good-to-Go commuter challenge which encourages the use of alternative transportation such as walking and biking, and the local fire and police departments will also be setting up vehicles for children to explore. ”
Stay up to do date on farmers market and local food happenings throughout the region by visiting www.buyfreshbuylocalcentralillionis.org