Finding a Farmers Market

Looking for a new Farmers’ Market  or orchard to pick strawberries this summer? Go to your computer before you hit the country roads. 

Farmers’ markets can be a great place to teach your children about where food comes from and to get them to eat more fruits and vegetables. Give them ownership in that basket of blueberries and they’ll be much more likely to try them. I have fond memories of my mom teaching me to pick blueberries and anything else that happened to be growing at orchards and markets all over the state. When we traveled, we always made sure to stop at the local market.

Markets are much more than just a place to get fresh produce – they have become tourist destinations, often with tours and various items for sale. They can be fun day-trips for the family. 

To help consumers find markets in various locations, the

Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association have launched a new site, called Prairie Bounty of Illinois. It’s an interactive directory of direct-from-the-farm sellers, farmers’ markets and agritourism businesses.

The website can be found at www.specialtygrowers.org/prairiebounty.html.  It provides information about more than 900 Illinois growers of fruits, vegetables and herbs. And the best part, you can search it by city, county or zip code. 

“As consumers become more involved in how their food is produced, they often become more interested in supporting local farms by purchasing locally grown food,” says Diane Handley, Illinois Farm Bureau affiliate association manager. 

The goal is to help consumers support local farmers and buy farm-fresh produce and products at farms and farmers’ markets across the state. 

If you’re a grower and want to add your name and business to the directory, you can contact Handley to do that (dhandley@ilfb.org) There are also instructions on how to register at the Illinois Specialty Growers website at www.specialtygrowers.org.

In addition, the Illinois Department of Agriculture has a searchable web site of  farmers’ markets and orchards in the state at http://www.agr.state.il.us/wherefreshis/.  

And just in case you’re not sure what might be ready this week, the University of Illinois Extension has a helpful chart of when different fruits and vegetables are in season. It’s at www.agr.state.il.us/wherefreshis/whatsinseason.pdf.

So take a Saturday, load the kids in the car and head for the nearest market. It’s a fun way to spend some family time and enjoy the fruits of the season.

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About the author

Charlyn Fargo spent 27 years at the State Journal-Register covering agriculture, business and food. She currently is the Bureau Chief of County Fairs & Horse Racing with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. She is also a Registered Dietitian and writes a weekly syndicated nutrition column for Creator’s News Service (www.creators.com) and is co-owner of Simply Fair, a fair trade boutique at 2357 W. Monroe in Springfield. She has bachelor’s degrees in agricultural communications and food from the University of Illinois, Champaign and a master’s degree in nutrition from Eastern Illinois University. She and her husband, Brad Ware, have a daughter, Kate, and son, Jayden. When she’s not working or writing, she enjoys baking cookies for Simply From Scratch, a company she formed to support faith-based ministries.

View all articles by Charlyn Fargo

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