Fresh and Local
by Julie Nichols
Bolstered by the Buy Fresh, Buy Local program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, over 100 farmer’s markets are booming across Nebraska. Lincoln hosts two primary locations and a growing number of small neighborhood markets bring fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, 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 supports and educates producers by expanding knowledge of best practices and food safety, managing diversification, and increasing market share in both rural and underserved urban areas. Buy Fresh Buy Local expands consumer awareness through farm tours where customers learn about the challenges of 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 hard aged cheeses. Pair your cheeses with fresh artisanal breads from Le Quartier, or handmade pasta from Pasta di Tutto. Wolff Farms, Winchester Farms, Tjaden Ranch, and Doc’s Holiday Healthy Farms offer natural pork, poultry and beef. Prairie Pride Acres offers pastured eggs as well as grass fed beef and pork.
Many growers offer CSA memberships (community supported agriculture) so Lincoln residents receive a share of fruits and vegetables throughout the season. The two largest markets accept SNAP/EBT dollars for fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and honey. The market offers matching monies up to $20 for SNAP families to increase access to healthy food options.
Producers join the markets each year. Rancho el Milagro, Small Starts, Johnson Farms, Prairieview and other growers provide a 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 the season.
While not every farmer at the market is certified organic, most use chemical-free practices. Common Good, 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. Robinette Farms brings microgreens, spicy braising greens and a variety of seasonal heirloom vegetables to your table.
Many growers offer bedding plants, herbs and vegetable starts, often heirlooms, for sale. Big Red Worms sells vermicompost, potting soil and worm castings to jump-start your garden.
While most vendors offer a variety some (like Hunter’s Honey and Twin Springs Pecans) specialize. Hillside Farms focuses on blackberries and table grapes. Nebraska Mushroom grows oyster, elm, lion’s mane and other mushrooms that can be purchased either fresh or dried.
Daffodil Catering brings Persian food and pastries from their brick and mortar restaurant, delicious with a glass of fresh rosewater lemonade. Manila Bay, a favorite among many Lincolnites, fries up fresh lumpia (egg rolls) while you wait.
Around the World Cookies and Ajwe Scones pair well with a coffee or a creamy treat from Gelato to Go, and P.S. It’s Gluten Free offers gluten free sweets.
Lincoln’s oldest market sets up every Saturday 8:00 am 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 gift items and crafts as well as well as tasty treats, fresh produce and herbs. Jewelry, glassware, hand-sewn items, baby wear, wreaths, soaps, lotions and fresh flowers are ready to take home or offer as a special gift.
Snack on kettle corn, chili rellenos, Czech kolaches, cookies or tacos and enjoy live performances at Iron Horse Park at 7th and Q. Crowds generally gather for shows between 9:00 and 11:00. Clowns delight children with balloon animals, and other kid-friendly activities include face-painting and henna tattoos.
The Sunday Market at College View
Lincoln’s second largest market celebrates its second year in a new location at College View, 4801 Prescott, on the Union College campus. Running for 15 years, the Sunday market also features performers from Lincoln’s vibrant music scene. From April to October, the College View market is open 10:00 to 2:00 on Sundays in a more spacious location. Dogs are allowed on leash.
Holiday Harvest Farmers Markets
Visiting for the holidays? Consider shopping at the post-season indoor markets. With dozens of vendors participating, the holiday markets are packed with delicious gifts as well as the last tastes of the growing season.
Like the summer markets, the holiday market, 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.
Many neighborhoods in Lincoln also provide weekly markets. The smaller markets may come and go over the years, but 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 markets 4 to 7pm Thursdays
June 21 – August 9;
Monthly markets 4 to 7pm Thursday,
September 13 and Thursday, October 11