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Despite COVID-19, Local Farmers Markets Still Plan To Open In May

People shop at the Champaign Farmers Market, located in downtown Champaign.

Despite Governor J.B. Pritzker’s classification of farmers markets as “essential” under his shelter-in-place mandate, the indoor farmers market in downtown Urbana has been closed for the past several weeks.

According to Darius White, Executive Director of the Urbana Business Association which organizes the indoor market, it has been closed because the owner of the Lincoln Square Mall has not given his permission.

“He has concerns in regard to the safety of his tenants… He’s had to pull back on staff due to [coronavirus], so he feels that he won’t be able to provide enough security for [the market],” he says.

The Market IN the Square, which is held inside the Lincoln Square Mall, typically runs from November through April. However, White says they’ve been operating on a week-by-week basis, and he says he’s not sure whether they’ll open back up this month. 

“Some of these vendors, it is their livelihood, and we do take it as seriously as they do,” he says.

Meanwhile, organizers of the Market AT the Square, which is held in the parking lot outside the mall, say they hope to be able to open as planned at the beginning of May. According to one organizer, the outdoor market will make “major changes” to account for public health and safety concerns. Details are forthcoming.

The Champaign Farmers Market, held outdoors in downtown Champaign, plans to open as scheduled on May 19th and is currently working on a plan to address health concerns.

Follow Dana on Twitter: @DanaHCronin


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Dana Cronin

Dana Cronin

Dana Cronin covers food and agriculture for Illinois Newsroom. Her work has reached both national and regional audiences through WILL's partnership with Harvest Public Media, an ag-focused Midwest reporting collaborative. Prior to Illinois Newsroom, she worked at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C. and for other member stations including KQED in San Francisco and 91.5 KRCC in Colorado Springs, CO. ➤ DCronin@illinois.edu@DanaHCronin

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