Farmers’ market planning to expand, include family-friendly activities


CHAMPAIGN — The city’s farmers’ market is about to start its third year in a few weeks. Organizers have big plans for the future.

They’re going to make it even more family-friendly than it’s been in the past. They want to start a program just for kids, so they’ll be starting a little earlier this year too.

Instead of 4 – 7 pm, like it’s been in the past, the farmers’ market will go from 3:30 – 6:30 pm, Tuesdays. They plan to have special activities for kids the last Tuesday of the month, with art projects, produce samples and cooking demos.

Organizers are also building on their SNAP program, where they’ll triple the money people spend with those tokens at certain times through the year. They say, by starting to teach kids while they’re young, they’ll be better suited to make healthy choices.

“It really helps kids learn more about where their food comes from and really understand the benefits of eating seasonally, so really getting tomatoes when they’re super fresh as opposed to the winter when we might want them but they don’t taste quite so good,” says Sarah Simeziane, farmers’ market manager.

The Champaign location started in 2015. Organizers say they wanted to give farmers another chance to sell their products, aside from Saturday’s in Urbana.

They also wanted to reach a new audience across Wright Street in Champaign. To help pay for these new programs, organizers are opening it up to donations and hoping to raise $10,000.

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The Champaign market made a big difference in its second season. It gave out $3,500 worth of matching SNAP benefits, sold food to about 17,000 people and had about 13 vendors per week.

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