by Julie Nichols
Bolstered by the Buy Fresh, Buy Local program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, farmer’s markets are booming across Nebraska—this year, registered statewide markets reached 100. Lincoln is fortunate to have two primary locations and a growing number of small neighborhood markets bringing fresh and organic produce, artisanal cheeses and baked goods, exotic foods, responsibly-raised meats, handmade pastas, honey, wine and crafts to our city—all locally produced.
Now a decade old, Buy Fresh Buy Local’s mission is to support and educate farmers, ranchers and producers by expanding their knowledge of production and food safety regulations, managing diversification, and increasing market share in both rural and underserved urban areas. Buy Fresh Buy Local seeks to expand consumer awareness through farm tours where customers learn about the challenges farmers face in producing nutritionally dense foods. Additionally, Buy Fresh cultivates relationships with local stores, identifies producers’ needs by providing workshops to assist in business development, and stimulates collaboration between customers and producers to nurture a resilient relationship across the local food supply.
The main draw for locals is the exceptional produce and farm products, including fresh flowers, meats and cheeses.
Shadowbrook Farm/Dutch Girl Creamery produces award-
winning goat cheeses in many styles from fresh feta to washed-rind types to hard aged cheeses. Another fine producer of delectable cheeses, Branched Oak Farm, crafts a perfect Camembert style
Many of the food growers at the larger markets also offer CSA memberships (community supported agriculture) so Lincoln residents can sign on for a share of fruits and vegetables throughout the season. The two largest markets accept SNAP/EBT dollars to buy fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and honey. The market offers matching monies up to $20 for SNAP families to help increase access to healthy food options.
Producers continue to join the markets each year. Rancho el Milagro, Small Starts, Johnson Farms, Grandview, Sanders, Prairieview and other growers provide a wide variety of staple vegetables from greens and herbs to root vegetables, heirloom tomatoes and peppers, beets, carrots, radishes, okra and kohlrabi. Lambert’s Produce, a long-time producer, offers a variety of the best melons for your dollar during season as well as other produce. Juicy Black Diamond watermelons give way to pumpkins and gourd as fall approaches.
While not every farmer at the market is certified organic, most use chemical free best practices as responsible growers. Common Good Farms, a certified organic, biodynamic farm produces over 45 types of vegetables and herbs, grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chicken and award-winning eggs and organic perennial, veggie and herb plants in spring and fall. Lake House Farms is also certified organic. Robinette Farms brings microgreens, spicy braising greens and a variety of seasonal heirloom vegetables to your table.
Many of the vegetable farmers offer bedding plants, herbs and vegetable starts, and often heirlooms, for sale. Big Red Worms sells vermicompost, potting soil and worm castings to jump-start your garden.
Pair your cheeses with fresh artisanal breads from Le Quartier. A number of producers offer chicken, beef and pork, including Wolff Farms, Winchester Farms, Tjaden Ranch, and Doc’s Holiday Healthy Farms. Prairie Pride Poultry offers pastured eggs as well as grass fed beef and pork.
While many producers offer a variety of products, some vendors like Hunter’s Honey and Twin Springs Pecans. Hillside Farms specializes in blackberries and table grapes. Nebraska Mushroom grows oyster, elm, lion’s mane and other mushrooms that can be purchased both fresh and dried. Handmade specialty pasta from Pasta di Tutto pairs well with almost every product in the market, especially fresh garlic and herbs.
Daffodil Catering brings Persian food and pastries from their brick and mortar restaurant in Lincoln, delicious with a glass of their fresh rosewater lemonade. Manila Bay, a favorite among many Lincolnites, fries up fresh Filipino lumpia (egg rolls) while you wait.
Around the World Cookies, Ajwe Scones and Kitchen Sink Cookie Company pair well with a coffee or a creamy cool treat from Gelato to Go. P.S. It’s Gluten Free offers
Whether shopping for groceries, exploring a neighborhood, or enjoying summer weather, Lincoln’s farmers’ markets are a relaxing stroll and kid-friendly.
Lincoln’s oldest and largest market sets up every Saturday 8:00am to noon, rain or shine, May through October in the Haymarket at 7th and P streets. Begun in 1985, the Haymarket Farmers’ Market is an easy walk from downtown hotels, and offers many gift items and crafts as well as well as tasty treats, fresh produce and herbs. Jewelry, glassware, hand-sewn items, baby wear, tie-dyed apparel, wreaths, soaps, lotions, yard art and fresh flowers are ready to take home or offer as a special gift.
Snack on kettle corn, chili rellenos, Filipino eggrolls, Czech kolaches, cookies or tacos and enjoy live music and performances at Iron Horse Park at 7th and Q. Crowds generally gather for shows between 9:00 and 11:00. Shades the Clown delights children with balloon animals, and other kid-friendly activities include face-painting and henna tattoos.
The Sunday Market at College View
The second largest market in Lincoln moved this year from Old Cheney Road to a new location in College View, 4801 Prescott, near the Union College campus. Running for over 13 years, the Sunday market also features live music from Lincoln’s vibrant music scene. From April 29 to October 28, the College View market is open 10:00 to 2:00 on Sundays in this new, more spacious location.
Holiday Harvest Farmers Markets
If you are visiting Lincoln for the holidays, consider shopping at the three indoor markets for holiday feasts or gifts. With dozens of local producers participating, winter root vegetables, greens, cheeses, truffles, breads, jams and pastries, the holiday markets are a great way to stock up on the last tastes of the growing season.
Like the summer markets, the holiday market, sponsored by the Sunday Market at College View, accepts SNAP/EBT dollars to buy fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and honey. The market offers matching monies up to $20 for SNAP families to help increase access to healthy food options.
Although not heavily advertised, many neighborhoods in Lincoln have their own quieter weekly markets. While these smaller markets may come and go over the years, their numbers are on the rise. Many can be found near churches or community centers.
Here are a few of the best-known:
University Place Community Market
2753 N. 50th 3 to 7 pm Wednesdays,
June – September.
F Street Neighborhood Farmer’s Market
1302 F Street, 4 to 7pm Tuesdays, May – October.
Fallbrook Farmer’s Market
570 Fallbrook Blvd. Weekly markerts 4 to 7pm Thursdays June 21 – August 9;
Monthly markets 4 to 7pm Thursday, September 13 and Thursday, October 11