Just as communities around the United States have become more invested in eating locally, I’ve become more aware of what it means to support my local farmers market and the markets of those cities I visit when I travel. At their most basic level, farmers markets are a place to buy fresh produce and other locally produced goods, but I’ve come to realize that they are so much more than that.
Farmers markets are a place where neighbors get to catch up with each other—an important aspect of successfully fostering a healthy and happy town that many people seem to have forgotten. They are a place to celebrate the achievements of friends and support their homegrown efforts. They encourage healthy habits and support a community financially. I haven’t met a farmers market I haven’t loved, and the one in South Bend, Indiana, was no exception.
This farmers market was established in 1924, so it’s no newbie to the fresh food scene. It is located close to the downtown area just across the street from the bike trail, which means that many people can access it easily—a must for fostering that sense of community. Many Midwest farmers markets are only operational during the summer months, but South Bend’s is housed in an enclosed building, which means people can shop year round. One of the greatest things about the website for this farmers market is that it features a page detailing what is in season, any season of the year.
It’s a large market with a whopping 96 seller stalls. In addition to fresh fruit and vegetables, the South Bend farmers market sells dairy products, pastries, fresh meat, flowers and crafts. It’s open on the weekend like most classic markets, but mid-week openings also make it friendly for those who can’t make it on the weekend.
I stopped by the farmers market in South Bend one afternoon while I was taking a jog along the city’s riverwalk. I wasn’t sure what I’d find inside, and to my surprise, in addition to the two peaches and muffin that I bought while strolling through, I discovered a locally grown, warm, welcoming atmosphere. Regardless of how hard you look, you can’t find that at any grocery store.