By Kelly Youngblood
A new farmer’s market will open May 5 in downtown Champaign that offers fresh, locally grown food and fun for the whole family.
The Land Connection Champaign Farmer’s Market will be open every Tuesday from 4-7 p.m. on the south side of Parking Lot M in downtown Champaign (near the corner of Neil and Main Street).
It will run rain or shine every week until the end of October.
“We are so excited. This has been a long time coming. We’ve put a lot of things in place and we’re really excited about the market (opening),” said Cara Cummings, executive director of The Land Connection.
The Champaign farmer’s market will offer a wide variety of foods including fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, baked goods, gelato, and eventually meats.
Cummings said they are still lining up volunteers, but in the coming weeks The Orpheum Museum and the city of Champaign will also be on hand to help coordinate some fun children’s activities.
“We want the (Champaign farmer’s market) to be very family friendly,” Cummings said.
Cummings, who moved here form California a few years ago, has always wanted to start a farmer’s market in Champaign to help support local farmers and to reach out to the community.
“One of the things that I wanted to do when I joined The Land Connection was to connect more of the general public to the organization,” she said.
The Land Connection began in 2001 with the purpose of preserving farmland. A few years later, a farmer training program was organized to help attract and train new farmers interested in using sustainable practices and operating smaller, diversified farms.
In the last 10 years, The Land Connection has helped train about 150 farmers throughout Central Illinois.
The Champaign farmer’s market will include about 18 different vendors, all of whom are local farmers or within 150 miles of Champaign.
Several downtown businesses have helped sponsor the market. Cummings said the money from sponsors will be used to help keep the market running and to double SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits.