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It's that time of year again! The trees and grass and gardens are exploding with green. The weather has warmed up (kind of), and we can feel summer rapping at the door. And the best part of all this just might be the anticipation of juicy berries, crisp asparagus, flavorful tomatoes, gorgeous greens, and all the other delicious, energizing favorites we can soon expect to find at the farmers' market.
We're entering our critical third season at the Champaign Farmers' Market. Critical third season is a phrase I'll be using a lot in the coming weeks and months. Research shows that farmers' markets who make it through 3 seasons are far more likely to succeed and truly become a part of the community.
Last week, Cara issued her radish challenge, and over the weekend I wholeheartedly accepted. I picked up some gorgeous misato radishes from Blue Moon Farm in Urbana, and pulled out my new woodland creature and barnyard animal cookie cutters (from an unorthodox approach to Christmas cookie season over the holidays).
Last week I spoke on a panel at the Illinois Specialty Crop, Agritourism, and Organic Conference in Springfield. It was the final session of the Farmers' Market Vendor Boot Camp block, and the panel focused on the different types of advisory boards farmers' markets around Central Illinois use. We talked a lot about the different ways we all get input from our vendors and other stakeholders to build a successful farmers' market community.
Another season has wrapped up, and it's time for reflecting, and more importantly planning what's to come in 2017.
The weather may not feel like it, but November is indeed upon us. Which sadly means the end of outdoor farmers' market season in this neck of the woods. The Champaign Farmers' Market concluded its sophomore season on October 25, which means it's now time to reflect on the past six months and dive into planning Season Three.
Last week I got to witness a perfect storm moment: all the things I've been working so hard to accomplish with our farmers' market wrapped up in one family encounter. We had held a promotional drawing the previous week to draw more Parkland College students out to the market. One reason I had worked so hard to get Parkland students out was knowing that a significant number of the student body receive SNAP benefits.
School's back in session, the temperatures are slowly started to dip, and people will not shut up about pumpkin spice everything. Fall is tiptoeing into our lives, and I for one am very excited. Fall has always been my favorite season--I love the crisp air, the leaves changing and falling, and the smell of wood smoke around as people start using their fireplaces again.
We're at the halfway point of our second season at the Champaign Farmers' Market, and it feels like a fitting time to reflect on the question at the heart of National Farmers' Market Week celebrations: why do I love my market?