Business hoppin' at Market

Business hoppin' at Market

URBANA — Energy was everywhere Saturday at the first Market at the Square of the season — not least from the wind, whose 23 mph gusts knocked down the aluminum frame of a musical instrument stall.

Shaun Simmons was credited with the save, snatching the frame as he held forth to a customer about the nutritious joys of autumn berries.

Minutes later, a rack holding metal mobiles clanged to the ground. Other stalls at Lincoln Square’s parking lot held firmer.

“We should have had wind turbines,” Simmons said.

It followed last year’s chilly welcome. For the people manning the Webber Street Christian Church, removing the tent was blessing as they soaked in the sun’s energy.

“It was actually cold under the tent,” said John Brazelton, who was offering free coffee and cold water.

The sunny day translated directly into dollars spent. Whether you wanted goat milk gelato or gluten-free pastries, you needed to be there early.

“We started selling out around 9 a.m.,” said James Kyung of Pandamonium Doughnut.

He’s so encouraged by the brisk sales that Pandamonium will expand to its own food truck later this year.

“I’ve sold more basil than I’ve ever sold before,” said Jeff Meyer of Meyer Produce in Villa Grove. He’s been a vendor at the farmer’s market since 1988.

Saturday was the debut of Little Red’s Basket, which sells gluten-free goodies out of Gibson City.

For owner Kylie Brown, who is sensitive to gluten herself, the cupcakes are a labor of love. 

To make the flour, she has to combine several powders, including white rice, potato, brown rice, sorghum, xanthan gum and tapioca, shaking and sifting all the time.

“It’s good exercise for my arms,” Brown said.

And the cakes have nutritional value, if you can forgive the smell of sweet that hovers over her stall. One product combines cocoa, kale and beets.

At Lakefield Glass’ stall, Randy and Joy Turner sell art glass made on their property near Paris.

They also hold open houses where people can see the process. Randy learned simple techniques for glass tubing in chemistry classes — he has a doctorate in engineering — and both have learned how to blow glass, handling it at searing heat.

“It’s good to be a little afraid of blowing glass, but not so much that you can’t do it,” Joy Turner said.

An Illinois Sustainable Technology Center stand handed out green pencils — they were recycled from money.

Also heavy on sustainability is Autumn Berry Inspired.

Autumn berries were among ground covers introduced here in the 1950s and ’60s to quickly propagate on land laid bare by industry and coal-mining, among other thing, said owner Dustin Kelley.

He said berries similar to autumn berries are here to stay, but they can be managed as invasive species.

Deer don’t like the taste of autumn berries, but birds do — and so do humans. So one person’s invasive species is another person’s treat.

The event continues until Nov. 1.


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