“This is incredible,” I said to Lindsay Record. Record has long been a driving force in the Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA), a primary proponent of local, sustainable farming.

I’d called Record after scanning the schedule of local events celebrating National Farmers Market Week, which runs from August 2–8.

“Isn’t it great?” Record replied. “More and more area organizations and businesses are committing to supporting local food systems. Their involvement made a full week of events possible.”

And a full week it is. Things are happening every day: a variety of classes, tastings, talks, kids’ activities, meals, giveaways and more.

If you’ve never shopped at farmers markets and don’t know why you should, Springfield’s National Farmers Market Week celebration brochure provides compelling arguments:
Why Celebrate Farmers Markets?
They are an integral part of healthy communities, providing access to fresh produce picked at the peak of ripeness, letting you meet the people responsible for growing your food, generating money throughout the local economy, and providing a space where food, art, entertainment and wellness coexist.

Shopping at local farmers markets not only provides you good food grown with love, but also supports fair wages, humane treatment of animals, environmental health and the local economy’s well-being. Small farms are a vibrant part of local landscapes, cultures and communities. Buying locally ensures those family farms can grow wholesome food for generations to come.

Sunday, August 2
Local Basket Giveaway Food Fantasies is filling a basket with locally made items to promote local vendors. Enter to win August 2-8. The drawing will be at noon on Saturday, Aug. 8. Food Fantasies, 1512 W. Wabash Ave., 793-8009.

Crop Mob 10am-3pm. Be a farmer for a day. Get your hands dirty and help a local vegetable farm with assorted farm work. Lunch provided. Presented in partnership with ISA and Lincoln Land Community College. Free, registration required. Register at buyfreshbuylocalcentralillinois.org or by calling 528-1563. Choice Roots Farm, 3989 Sherman Road, Sherman.
Monday, August 3
East Side Farmers Market 2-6pm. Presented by HSHS St. John’s Hospital. Food basket giveaway, health screenings, “Celebrate National Watermelon Day” as presented by Grow Springfield, “Learn how to #EatReal” as presented by genHkids, nutrition education and raffle presented by U of I Extension. Sangamon County Department of Public Health, 2833 South Grand Avenue East, 535-3100.

Illinois Stewardship Alliance Chipotle Fundraiser 5-8pm. Dine at Chipotle and enjoy “Food with Integrity” while supporting Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to promoting local food and sustainable agriculture. Show a flyer or tell the cashier that you’re there to support ISA; they’ll receive 50 percent of the proceeds. Chipotle, 2579 Wabash Ave., 321-0500.

Hy-Vee Cooking Class 5:30pm. Learn to be less intimidated by fresh produce from the farmers market. Presented by Hy-Vee and genHkids. $25 required registration. For more information, email info@genhkids.org. Hy-Vee, 2115 S. MacArthur Blvd., 726-1001.

Farmers Market Cooking Class 5:30-6:30pm. Chefs from HSHS St. John’s Hospital will demonstrate how to prepare produce from farmers markets. Presented by HSHS St. John’s Hospital. Free. Limit 20 people per class; registration required, 814-4308. Sangamon County Department of Public Health, 2833 South Grand Avenue East, 535-3100.

Community Garden Work Day 5:30pm. Lend a hand in our community garden and take home some fresh fruits and vegetables. This garden is expected to produce 2,000 lbs. of food by the end of 2015. Presented by genHkids. Free. SPI Community Works Garden, Third and Canedy streets.

Tuesday, August 4
Butler Garden Club Book Fair 3-8pm. We’ll focus on what our community can do to provide students with greater access to fresh, local food and encourage active lifestyles. Themed tables throughout Barnes and Noble will feature educational materials and activities. Visit the kids’ section to shop the make-believe farmers market. A portion of the sales will support the Butler Garden Club. Free admission. Barnes and Noble at 3111 S. Veterans Pkwy., 546-9440.

Wednesday, August 5
Old Capitol Farmers Market 8am-12:30pm. “Kids Pick a Carrot” as presented by Grow Springfield, “Tomato Tasting” as presented by ISA, “Learn how to #EatReal” as presented by genHkids, “4-H Food Challenge” as presented by University of Illinois Extension, ”Farmers Market Raffle” as presented by Illinois Farmers Market Association, “Market Bag Giveaway” presented by Downtown Springfield, Inc. Hosted by DSI. Located at Fourth and Adams streets.

Garden to Plate Cooking Class, 6-8pm. Summertime means super fresh fruits and vegetables. Whether you grow them in your garden or shop at the local farmers market, an abundance of fresh, local food can get your family cooking. Join us for a seasonal family cooking class  for children ages 5-12 with an accompanying adult. Participants will learn how to prepare a vegetable slaw and Israeli couscous with seasonal vegetables, as well as create a take-home garden craft. Presented by ISA, Chatham Public Library and Copper Pot Cooking Studio. Free. Registration required, space is limited. To register, call 483-2713. Chatham Public Library, 600 E Spruce St., Chatham.  

Paint Nite for Illinois Farmers Markets 5-7pm. Get creative for a great cause. To help celebrate National Farmers Market Week, the Illinois Farmers Market Association is hosting a Paint Nite event to raise funds for IFMA. Registration required; cost $45. Register online at ilfarmersmarkets.org. Arlington’s, 210 Broadway, 679-6235.

Community Garden Work Day 5-8 pm. Take a look at our first community garden, Seeds of Possibility. Receive hands-on gardening experience from our gardening staff. Presented by genHkids. Free. Seeds of Possibility Garden, 2317 East Cook St.

Thursday, August 6
 Illinois Products Farmers Market 4–7pm. “Local Flavors Dinner” as presented by ISA and Cooper’s StrEATside Bistro, “Taste of the Market” as presented by ISA, “Farmers Market Raffle” as presented by IFMA, “Ask the Master Gardener” as presented by U of I Extension Master Gardeners. Hosted by Illinois Department of Agriculture. Illinois State Fairgrounds, 801 Sangamon Ave.

Friday, August 7
Robert’s Seafood Sampling and Celebration 4–6pm. Meet your local farmer and brewer. Chase Sanert of Sugar Grove Family Farms will provide samples of his sustainably-raised pork and eggs; Rolling Meadows Brewery will offer samples of their beer and talk about the brewing process. Additionally, to celebrate 99 years of business, we are giving away a $99 gift card. Robert’s Seafood Market, 1615 W. Jefferson St., 546-3089.

Saturday August 8
Old Capitol Farmers Market 8am-12:30pm. “Taste of the Market and Farmers Market Treasure Hunt” as presented by ISA, “Taste the Flavors of Summer” and “Ask the Chef” as presented by LLCC, “I Love Soil” as presented by Grow Springfield and U of I Extension, “Learn how to #EatReal” as presented by genHkids, “Farmers Market Raffle” as presented by IFMA, “Market Bag Giveaway” as presented by DSI, “Fun, Food, Games and Future Events” as presented by Slow Food Springfield, “4-H Food Challenge” as presented by U of I Extension. Hosted by DSI. Old Capitol Farmers Market, Fourth and Adams streets.

Down on the Farm 11am–3pm. An Illinois State Museum “Super Saturday” event. In Illinois, farmland is all around us. Come learn about agriculture and discover where the foods we eat come from, how they travel to grocery stores, and different ways to enjoy them. Free. Illinois State Museum, 502 S. Spring St., 782-7386.

Farm to Table Dinner Crawl 5pm. Complete the celebration of National Farmers Market Week by dining at not one but four fabulous downtown dining establishments. Enjoy a course at each of the following restaurants: Driftwood Cocktails and Eatery, Augie’s Front Burner, Maldaner’s Restaurant and Terra Andes. Proceeds benefit Illinois Farmers Market Association. Presented by ISA and IFMA. Cost is $45; registration required. Tickets available online at buyfreshbuylocalcentralillinois.org.

Contact Julianne Glatz at realcuisine.jg@gmail.com.

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