The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Local gems shine at Urbana Farmers Market

The Daily Illini Photo File
Local vendors at the Urbana Farmers Market. The market allows for many independent businesses to sell artisan foods and goods.

Since 1979, the Urbana Farmers Market has housed vendors from all backgrounds devoted to selling unique goods to the community. Every Saturday, between the months of May and October, the Urbana Farmers Market is open to the Champaign-Urbana public.

The market is home to vendors of all kinds selling anything from fresh produce to unique handmade gems that can’t be found anywhere else.

Johann Rischau is a regular vendor at the market and co-owner of Pipapo, a shop dedicated to selling handmade wooden jewelry.

After graduating from the University, Rischau and his wife started experimenting with designing jewelry using a laser cutter and birch wood.

“One thing led to another and we found ourselves starting a line of birch jewelry that is hand painted and it has grown into quite a collection,” Rischau said.

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The company found their way to the farmers market after experimenting with different ways to sell their products.

“We tried it out a few years ago, just coming one weekend at a time,” Rischau said. “We found that the farmers market is a great place to find items that were locally made and we feel like we as a small business that produces from Urbana, from scratch, qualifies really well.”

Pipapo sells all their jewelry locally at art events and farmers markets while also having a storefront on Main Street in Urbana and an online storefront that ships globally. 

Another business selling specially crafted products is The Wright Soapery. The brand focuses on selling handmade cold processed soap bars that can be used daily. The Wright Soapery has been a regular vendor at the farmers market since 2013. 

“At that point, I was just making soap as a hobby and I needed an outlet because I was just collecting all the soap I was making,” said Jackie Wright, founder of The Wright Soapery.

While there is no brick and mortar storefront, the company has a website where anyone can purchase their soaps. The Wright Soapery not only limits themselves to selling at the Urbana Farmers Market, but also at the Champaign Farmers Market and other local and regional events.

“There’s a lot of hard work that goes into just being at one market on a consistent basis, let alone two, so there is a lot of commitment involved,” Wright said.

The farmer’s market is also home to many vendors selling baked goods. One regular baking vendor is Six Red Chairs Bakery, selling homemade French pastries like croissants, macarons and cookies.

Owner Manon Lalonde is a cottage baker — she bakes and prepares everything from her home kitchen. 

“I always wanted to have a bakery so when my kids were big enough, I started this little cottage food business,” Lalonde said.

Six Chairs Bakery has been a regular at the farmers market for the last four years. The farmers market was a way to introduce the brand without a lot of risk. 

“It’s a significant commitment if you go to brick and mortar or if you want to find a commercial kitchen,” Lalonde said. “Selling here was a low risk way of introducing myself to the market.”

Lalonde starts preparing the week before the market and starts baking the night before so that all the pastries are fresh and ready to serve the next morning. 

The farmer’s market also proves to be a lucrative source for local produce. Sola Gratia Farm is a farm local to Urbana that sells an assortment of different fruits and vegetables. Founded in 2012, Sola Gratia has been selling their products for all of Champaign-Urbana to enjoy.

“Our farm started in 2012 with the mission of making fresh food more accessible and affordable in Champaign-Urbana,” said Sophie Rasmus, market and communications lead for Sola Gratia. “We’ve been selling at the farmer’s market pretty much the whole time since we’ve been in operation.”

During the summer, Sola Gratia focuses on selling fresh fruits and vegetables and in the spring, they sell plants while they wait for the food season to begin. Sola Gratia attends farmers markets all year round, including the indoor Champaign-Urbana Winter Farmers Market from November through April. 

Overall, the Urbana farmers market is a profitable event for community members and vendors alike. With a unique selection of products to choose from, the farmers market is certainly the place to be during the summer and fall. 

“We love Urbana, we’re happy to be here, we love everybody who comes to the market and we think it’s a really important thing,” said Rasmus.


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