Indiana has more than 180 farmers markets, according to the National Farmers Market Directory.
For fans of fresh local food, the good news is that virtually all of them are now open for business. Despite a cold, wet spring, some early season crops – including asparagus, rhubarb, lettuces and other greens, some peppers, flowers and maybe even a few strawberries here and there – were available or very soon would be available as this issue of The Hoosier Farmer went to press. Surely Indiana sweet corn and tomatoes can’t be too far behind.
Opening day for the Original Farmers’ Market, located at the City Market in Indianapolis, was May 2. The market will be open every Wednesday rain or shine through October. It offers a full range of local fruits, vegetables and flowers, as well as baked goods, honey, pretzels, tea, herbs, jellies and treats for dogs, cats and horses.
Among the more than 40 vendors is Barnhouse Farms near Spencer, owned and operated by Farm Bureau members Sean and Chelssie McKinney (Sean is pictured at the right). From their 6 acres, they produce goat-milk soap, free-range chicken and quail eggs, heirloom vegetables and organic microgreens.
Some of Barnhouse Farms’ products are sold online or to restaurants, but they also put a lot of emphasis on farmers markets. This is their first year at the Indianapolis market, Sean McKinney said, but it’s their third year at the Bloomington Farmers Market, and they also are considering the Nashville, Indiana, market as well.
“That first year at Bloomington was our first farmers market ever,” he added.
The Jennings County Farmer’s Market’s opening day was May 1, and it will be offering fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, baked goods and other products every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. through October. Like the Original Farmers’ Market, a number of its vendors are Farm Bureau members, but it has another even stronger Farm Bureau connection: The market was actually begun by the Jennings County Farm Bureau in 1998. It also was Jennings County Farm Bureau that led the effort to raise the funds to build a new shelter house for the market after the old one was condemned and torn down.
Clarence Wullenweber (pictured at the far right) has been the market master since 2000. That’s when he took over from Bud Beesley, who was instrumental in founding the market.
The county Farm Bureau was “determined to rebuild,” Wullenweber said.
The sleek and sturdy new shelter house opened last June, and a total of 52 different producers sold there during the 2017 season, Wullenweber said.
“Hopefully we’ll have 60 this year,” he added. Wullenweber himself is there every market day, selling “just about anything, as far as produce goes.” His parents also raised and sold produce, and his father was the market master in Lawrenceburg.
“It’s in my blood,” he said, adding with smile, “You have to have a weak mind and a strong back.”
Before you go to market, to market:
Learn more about the Original City Market at Indianapolis City Market.
Follow the Jennings County Farmer’s Market on Facebook.
Check out Indiana Grown, one of several Indiana State Department of Agriculture's farmers market online resources.