It’s a double-whammy: By the time autumn winds blow hard and cold through Indianapolis, less-hardy crops go out of season. And so do most farmers markets.
This year, thankfully, half of that equation will be different.
Last Saturday marked the opening of the aptly titled Indy Winter Farmers Market at 2442 N. Central. It was a dank, rainy day, but inside the nondescript one-level building, food lovers rotated stations offering homegrown herbs, local, organic produce, handmade soaps, mead and more.
Laura Henderson put the collaborative operation together to help local farmers find a Central Indianapolis outlet to sell their fruits farther into the winter. Her foremost criteria for admitting participant vendors? That they sell things they’ve grown or made themselves.
Indy favorite Country Mouse City Mouse’s Erin Jones-Edds greeted customers with an array of colorful offerings, including purple onion-studded paté and an electric yellow Nyona Lake jezebel (fresh organic pineapple with grainy mustard, roasted garlic and horseradish). Then it was on to a table with everything persimmon, including spoon-size tastes — and recipes — of pudding.
Samples are definitely a farmers market plus. But this particular market has another defining perk: its breadth of offerings. Locally made soaps from Flower Child Aromatherapy came in a variety of scents and formulations; TraceyClean natural cleaning products will make their debut at the market next week.
Indiana farmers were also on hand with more than just fruits and veggies, though that was certainly a draw. Seldom Seen Farm had everything from watermelon to daikon radishes for the taking, as well as enlightenment about organic farming practices. Hobbit Gardens’ medicinal herbs, tea mixes and olive oil infusions beckoned from a table nearby. Schacht Fleece Farm sold lamb, eggs, chicken and beef from coolers; the Apple Family Farm hawked everything from veal to flank steak. Next week they’ll have homemade hats and other accessories.
Most vendors will return on a weekly basis. The market will run from 9 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays through Dec. 27. More information is available at www.indywinterfarmersmarket.blogspot.com.
For a more 24/7 oriented market, Locally Grown Gardens at 1050 E. 54th St. is open seven days a week, usually at least until 8 p.m. Though owner and former MCL Bakery Corporate Chef Ron Harris says they really never close. If there are customers at his indoor farmers market, well, he’ll be there too.
Harris’ shop has been open since April. He sells fruits, vegetables, flowers, honey, cider and even firewood that’s sourced locally in many cases, but not all: Seasonality and quality, Harris says, is his foremost criteria.
The iconic green board behind the cash register lists each month’s available produce as it approaches ripeness. The summer’s South Carolina peaches have been replaced by tree-ripened Florida naval oranges and ruby red grapefruit as the current must-have fruit. Honeycrisp apples from Garwood Orchard in Northern Indiana have been a hit, too.
So have the weekend hog roasts. They started as a Saturday-only deal, featuring Indiana hog farmer Greg Miller’s all-night-roasted pulled pork. The event got so popular, pulled pork is now offered as a dinner selection from the market during weeknights from 4:30-9 p.m. Side dishes and grilled salmon are also available.
Harris continually looks for new ways to serve his neighborhood community. The Culinary Institute of America-educated chef, who studied under American cuisine patriarch Larry Forgione, recently started holding Thursday cooking classes at St. Joan of Arc Church.
Even more recently, he’s contracted with a farm in Newberry to offer customers cow shares in order for them to get raw milk from his market. (Indiana law prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk, so owning a cow is the only way to “lawfully” consume it.)
Harris says he is open to accommodating any customer request — perhaps even up to shoveling snow (for pay, of course) come the precipitation. Stay posted at www.locallygrowngardens.com.