Friday, May 8, 2009
The recruitment of great produce vendors has continued to progress nicely, but we still have a few spots left. So I thought I'd put it out to our potential customers to let us (and any potential produce vendors) know what veggies they would like to see at the market.
So far we have one large vendor, who will be selling most everything from beets to turnips. But we also have lots of smaller vendors who have a few veggies they specialize such as hot peppers and tomatoes.
Still, there are some veggie varieties that our market is lacking. What would you like to see? Voice your opinion on your favorite veggie!
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
New Champaign farmers' market to begin June 18
CHAMPAIGN – A new farmers' market is expected to open next month on North First Street.
Starting June 18, the Historic North First Street Market will be held every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. in the north end of the city parking lot near the police department building.
The farmers' market will include live entertainment and music, barbecue sandwiches, fresh produce, baked goods and a variety of crafts. It will run for 11 weeks, each Thursday through Aug. 27.
"I really believe this will be a great thing," said William Jones, president of the North First Street Association, a group of about 15 business owners on North First Street and University Avenue that is helping organize the event.
"People who live in Champaign can come over and get fresh produce and enjoy live entertainment," Jones said. "We'll have something for everyone."
At least in its first year, the farmers' market will be relatively small in size, with space for 26 vendors.
Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation managing attorney Valerie McWilliams, left; William Jones, president of the North First Street Association; and market manager Wendy Langacker gather at the north end of a parking lot near the Champaign Police Station, which will be the home of a farmers' market to begin June 18 and run for 11 weeks. By Heather Coit
"It's going to have more of a smallish, neighborhood feel," said Valerie McWilliams, managing attorney for the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, 302 N. First St., which is also helping organize the event.
McWilliams said a University of Illinois senior, Doris Okafor, a community health intern with Land of Lincoln, has spent many hours helping put the event together.
McWilliams said she hopes the farmers' market can be a way to get lower-income residents, such as families who receive Women, Infants & Children coupons for farmers' markets, to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables. Each participant in WIC receives $16 of farmer's market coupons each year that can be used only to purchase fruits and vegetables at farmers' markets, and about half of those coupons issued in Champaign County go unused, she said.
Women, Infants & Children is a federally funded program run locally through the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District that provides food coupons, nutrition counseling and assessment for pregnant and post-partum women and infants and children up to age 5.
McWilliams said organizers are working to get approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be able to accept food stamp LINK cards as well.
"There's been an upsurge nationally in the use of food stamps, so this a particularly good time to offer something like this," McWilliams said.
Okafor said the event currently has about 16 vendors, including two produce vendors and two meat vendors. Other community members who intend to sell T-shirts, crafts and jewelry have also secured spaces, which will rent for $10 per week. Pekara Bakery, which produces its baked goods out of the former Lone Star Lodge building at 208 N. First St., will also be a vendor.
McWilliams said the farmers' market is still seeking more farmers interested in selling locally grown produce. Those interested can contact organizers via e-mail at farmersmarket.on.northfirst<@>gmail.com.
Champaign city planner T.J. Blakeman said that the farmers' market isn't being sponsored by the city, but that city officials want to see it succeed and are providing some assistance.
"We'd love to see it happen," Blakeman said. "It's a private venture we're supportive of. Because it's being held on our land, we want to make sure it's set up well and has some support."