Delicious produce is being harvested all around the Champaign-Urbana area, so how can we get it onto our dinner tables?
It’s that time of the year when you hope your neighbor with the great vegetable garden goes out of town and asks you to “take care of things” in their absence. Or perhaps some oversized zucchini mysteriously appeared at your front door recently; just FYI, every Aug. 8 is National Sneak Some Zucchini onto your Neighbor’s Porch Day.
In these “dog days” of summer, farmers and gardeners alike are heading into their busy harvest season and there’s lots of delicious produce to be had. Our area is fortunate to have a number of farmers markets, which may look a little different in 2020 but still serve the essential function of uniting farmers with their customers.
But what if you are craving something farm-fresh and it’s not your community’s market day? A farm stand just might be the answer! Along with our knowledgeable readers, we’ve assembled some tips on how to find a farm stand when you need one.
Many farm stands are informal and transient, operating through word-of-mouth or serendipity. Consider these suggestions from our readers:
- “You can drive down almost any road in Amish country (in Douglas/Moultrie Counties, around Arthur) any day and find farm stands set up along side of the roads. Items are priced so you leave money in a jar for what you take. It’s usually the honor system.” (Sounds like a fun afternoon adventure!)
- “A guy sets up in Rantoul daily. He posts in Rantoul Community Uncensored.” (You could check social media for whatever town you live in to find something similar.)
- “Didn’t there used to be a stand set up on Prospect and Devonshire in the church parking lot?” (Answer: yes, in the lot of Champaign’s Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, but apparently not this year.)
Some farm stands operate at their farms. While their locations may be more permanent, these stands usually operate only during the main harvest window of that particular farm, or they are only stocked on particular days during that time. These farmers tend to have booths at area markets, or have other ways to sell what they produce — meaning the farm stand is a bonus, and not their main gig. Definitely check with the individual farm before making a trip.
- Seldom Home Farm (intersection of E. Windsor Road and Cottonwood Road, Urbana, 317-931-8132): Growing over 125 different varieties of produce. Specializes in tomatoes, peppers and specialty veggies. On Facebook Deanna Prather says, “I am a little behind for items coming out of the field. I am getting tomatoes, onions, squash and soon I will getting all sorts of sweet and hot peppers. I have herbs that can be picked upon request as well.” Also sells at Urbana’s Market at the Square.
- Delight Flower Farm (driveway entrance to farm, 1472 County Rd 500 E., Champaign): Farm stand just opened in July, according to Facebook. “It’s full of sweet local blooms, wholesome veggies and Delight Flower Farm eggs! The farm stand will be open Thursday-Sunday each week from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and is based on the honor system. You can make cash payments at the stand or Venmo our account for electronic payments. Thanks to our farmer friends at Crooked Row Farm, Sola Gratia, and Flyway Family Farm for contributing produce for our stand.”
- Meyer Produce (southern edge of Villa Grove): Announced at the end of July on Facebook that it is adding a farm stand to sell produce onsite in Villa Grove. However, at publication time Meyer is not yet sure whether the stand will be operational this season or next. (Watch its social media!) “Directly supplying local farmers markets in Champaign and Urbana, Ben and Molly Oberg farm 25 acres of diverse varieties of vegetables, berries, and orchard fruit. Honey too, from their pollinating bees.”
- Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch (3902 S Duncan Rd., Champaign): Imagine a farm stand contained within a larger country store contained within an “entertainment farm,” which is how Curtis Orchard bills itself. Although it is unlike any other farm stand on our list, it fits the description of offering fresh seasonal produce on a seasonal basis (open from July to December). Depending on the week, you may find “just” apples to buy — at least 33 different varieties listed for 2020, some of which you can pick yourself — or you may find fresh sweet corn, melon, squash, peppers, and more. (The fresh donuts, apple cider, and honey are a bonus! Goats and kittens sadly not for sale.)
Some farm stands have regular schedules and “city” locations. These are most handy for people like me, who enjoy predictability but don’t enjoy market crowds. Remember they are still seasonal businesses by definition, and bad harvests or bad weather (or bad luck) may interfere with these schedules.
ABC Shop (from 2260 CR 1800 E, Arthur, 217-543-2655): The ABC Shop travels from Arthur to both Champaign and Mahomet and sells a wide variety of produce.
- Wed. and Sat. in Champaign, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — 1413 N Prospect Ave., in the Danville Gardens Too parking lot — during July and August (or maybe until Labor Day)
- Thurs. in Mahomet, noon to 7 p.m. — Route 47, in the Hen House parking lot — May through October
Lingley Bros. Sweetcorn (from 36029 N. 2040 E., Rossville, 217-339-2487 for daily updates): A vegetable farm located in the east Rossville/Hoopeston area. “We grow fresh market sweet corn, tomatoes, green beans, blackberries and honey which are sold at several roadside stands around Vermilion County, in Rantoul, and in Attica, Ind.”
- Daily in Rantoul, 10 a.m. until sold out — “on the curve by the high school, corner of Chanute St. and Route 136” Check Facebook for updates during sweet corn season for when they are there, and when they are sold out.
Finally, some farm stands exist in cyberspace — because 2020!
Sustainable Student Farm at UIUC (3505 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana): In past years the group has operated a Thursday farm stand. For 2020 it is operating as a curbside pickup on Thursday afternoons for pre-orders placed online on the preceding Mondays and Tuesdays. “We are a 6.5-acre educational farm where U of I students can learn about growing fresh food. We grow an array of vegetables and fruit using organic practices and provide a space for hands-on learning. The majority of what we grow (90%) goes to the dining services here on campus. In 2017-2019, we provided over 50,000 lbs of produce per year to the dining halls!”
Market Wagon (11 counties in Central Illinois): Just your friendly neighborhood farm stand IN CYBERSPACE. Shop 352 products from 42 vendors. Orders are fulfilled every Thursday and delivered to your front door, anywhere in those 11 counties, for a flat $5.95 fee. Subscriptions available. We have not yet tried this service and would love to hear from readers who have.
Let us know if there’s a farm stand we should add to this list!
Farmers Markets in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond | Champaign-Urbana Farmers Markets Set Guidelines | Where to Pick Apples Near Champaign-Urbana | Blueberry Picking Around and Near Champaign-Urbana | Strawberry Picking Near Champaign-Urbana | Where to Find Locally Raised Meat in the Champaign-Urbana Area