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Produce markets for locavores

By Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant,
Extension educator, local food systems and small farms

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[May 10, 2012]  Are you a locavore? A loco-what? A locavore is a person who eats food from the local area. Locavores aren't loco -- they just like to eat food that has been grown locally, to help the environment and the economy.

The reasons for selecting local foods include the facts that foods shipped long distances are often picked while they are unripe, may be stored for long periods of time and are often handled extensively. Locally grown foods are "greener," since less energy is required for shipping, handling and packaging; and buying fresh, locally grown food supports local farmers.

There is no place more local than your own garden. As a gardener, you know the benefits of growing your own food. You understand and appreciate how good freshly picked veggies taste, and you also know how they are raised and exactly what goes into them. If you don't have space for a garden, or perhaps you live in an apartment, consider growing a few vegetables in containers. Extension has some great information on "Successful Container Gardens" at

I don't know about you, but I am really excited that farmers market season is here. On the Illinois Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Marketing and Promotion website for farmers markets,, there are three listed for Sangamon County and three for Logan County. If your market is not listed, contact Kendra Buchanan at 217-524-3297 for more information.

In Logan County, the three markets are the Lincoln Farmer's Market at Scully Park, the Farmers' Market at Latham Park and the Elkhart Farmers Market.

  • The first market to open is the Lincoln Farmer's Market, at Scully Park, at Clinton and Kickapoo streets. This market is on Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 to noon, from April 28 through Oct. 27. The market offer fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally, plants, baked goods, homemade dog biscuits, rag rugs, woodworking, and hand-sewn items.

  • The Farmers' Market, at Latham Park, at Kickapoo Street and Latham Place, will be on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, from May 12 to Oct. 27 (with some exceptions). The market will offer fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, plants, baked goods and crafts.

  • The Elkhart Farmers Market, at the west side of Horsefeathers, 104 Gov. Oglesby St. in Elkhart, will be on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon, from May 26 through Oct. 27. The market will feature seasonal and local plants, produce and baked goods.

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The three markets in Sangamon County are the Illinois Products Farmers' Market and the Old Capitol Farmers' Market, both in Springfield, and Pawnee Farmers Market in Pawnee.

  • The first market to open will be the Illinois Products Farmers' Market, located at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. This market is on Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m., from May 10 through Oct. 18. The market will offer fresh products including produce, meat, poultry, eggs, wine, baked goods, herbs, spices, vegetable plants, ornamental plants and flowers.

  • The Old Capitol Farmers' Market will begin on May 16. This market is from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, May 16-Oct. 27, and is located on Adams Street between Second and Fifth streets. With nearly three full blocks of vendors, there is an outstanding variety of produce, baked goods, meats, cheese, plants and other specialty items.

  • The Pawnee Farmers Market is on the village square in Pawnee on Tuesdays from 4 to 6 p.m., from June 7 to Sept. 27. This market will feature fruits and vegetables, meats and barbecue sauces, Tastefully Simple products, homemade bath products, and wooden items for your home and garden.

If you are interested in finding other farmers markets in Illinois, go to on the Illinois Department of Agriculture website. If, during your summer travels, you want to find farmers markets in other states, check out the USDA National Farmers Market Directory at Happy eating!

[By DEBORAH CAVANAUGH-GRANT, University of Illinois Extension]

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