By Lynn Jenkins/Times Sentinel columnist
— The Zionsville Farmers’ Market is already winding down for the season.
Only one more Saturday market in town. I feel like the heat and drought has shortened our summer this year, but there are still many tasty reasons to drop by one of Zionsville’s two markets.
Yes, Zionsville is fortunate to have two outstanding farmers’ markets. One is seasonal in the village, and one is year-round at Traders Point Creamery. Both are so unique and exceptional, that I know I’m not the only shopper that frequently visits each of them on a weekend.
The town parking lot at Main and Hawthorne streets in the village bustles every Saturday morning from May through September. If you’ve not been, then stop in on Saturday morning and support the many local vendors who have farmed and baked and potted and cooked to bring their freshest and best for direct sell to you.
Farmers markets are unique opportunities for local business. Smaller enterprises have a chance to test and sell new products and receive one to one feedback from consumers. Bakeries like the organic Valentine Hill Farm and cheese producers like Ludwig Farmstead Creamery hear directly from their buyers what products are favored. Growing businesses like KG Acres, Fried Egg Farm and Darrin’s Coffee have wonderful opportunities to promote their products not found in grocery stores.
Communities that support such endeavors reap benefits as well. Jennifer Bucker, market master, emphasizes that the market brings in customers from nearby communities as well as Zionsville residents. These shoppers are more than a benefit to the local stores in town. Communities also benefit when local money is truly spent locally, not just in a local supermarket where the finances become global. At a market, the money actually stays within a local community. Bucker confirms that nearly all the vendors are from within the county or Central Indiana. (Did you know there was an End of the Trail Bison Ranch in Boone County?)
Buying local seasonal foods benefits the buyer since food is fresher, traveling fewer food miles (not days on a train or arriving from another hemisphere). Fresher produce has greater flavor and more nutrition. There is also less chance for contamination when it is farmer picked and farmer sold, not passing through multiple stages of handling as in supermarkets.
Where else will you find fresher produce like that from Stillhaven Farms or Pete’s Peaches or My Dad’s Sweet Corn? What about Tom’s homemade pickles, Woodburn’s homemade pasta or Simpson’s pastured pork (raised in the sunshine, not in a barn), and we still haven’t mentioned local honey which is available from several vendors. Did you know that research has shown that eating local honey can help create immunity to seasonal allergies? And eggs — several providers, but they are usually gone by mid-day at the market. What a treat those are over store-bought Confined Animal Feeding Operations eggs. Don’t get me started on CAFOs.
There is additional benefit to go around when shopping the farmers’ market. While you are enjoying Patrick’s breakfast burrito or a sweet from Le Dolce Vita, you can support community organizations such as scouts, the Humane Society for Boone County or one of many local non-profit organizations that are offered free spots as available throughout the season. High school and college musicians frequently set up to entertain and play for tips. Second Helpings has also benefited from participation this year both from consumer and vendor donations. Everyone benefits at community farmers’ markets.
There is only one more Saturday to visit the village market. Fortunately, The Green Market at Traders Point Creamery just south of Zionsville, 9101 Moore Road, continues their summer market outside from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday evenings through October. Starting in November, the Green Market moves from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday mornings in the red barn at Indiana’s premier organic dairy farm.
According to Market Manager Maria Smietana, The Green Market offers organic and natural products from local vendors who use sustainable practices to create healthful products to protect the earth and us. It was the first year-round market in central Indiana and it continues to offer a healthful selection of locally made foods and products. So this weekend for sure, I’ll see you at the local markets on both Friday evening and Saturday morning.
Lynn Jenkins is a Zionsville resident and member of ZIGG, Zionsville Initiative to Go Green. Email her at LJenks@tds.net.