November 8th, 2013

Indy Winter Farmers Market

by Emily Vanest


I first met Tyler and Laura Henderson several years ago when we, along with several friends and neighbors, decided to till, plant and harvest a garden on half an acre loaned to us in Whitestown, Indiana.  None of us had any gardening experience at the time and we over-ambitiously plotted out 36 huge raised beds.  We made a lot of mistakes, but it was fun to get together on Saturdays to weed and harvest and picnic together . . . and that garden started all of us on a longer process of learning to grow our own food, to value even more the time and care it takes to grow things well, and to consider the people who give their lives to produce beautiful food for us.

Tyler and Laura have, by far, the best backyard garden of any of us, and they encourage the rest of us to think more critically about our local food culture.  The Hendersons have always inspired me as people who actually live out being the change they want to see in the world.  They started by developing small gardens for restaurants and their own CSA, eventually developing Growing Places Indy, a non-profit committed to cultivating “the culture of urban agriculture and healthy lifestyles, empowering individuals and communities to Grow well, Eat well, Live well and Be well.”  Their vision “is a full-circle vision for healthier communities, a sustainable future for urban and farm land ecology, a burgeoning local food economy, and a vibrant and diverse food culture in Indianapolis – all supported by and a strong local food and farm network.”


One of the many outworkings of this vision, and one we look forward to every year, is the Indy Winter Farmers Market (IWFM).   The goal of the market is “to provide a venue downtown to directly connect farmers and producers to the community and foster personal relationships in the exchange of fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, baked goods, herbs and natural cleaning products while promoting access to local, healthy food for all.”  This Saturday morning, the doors of The Platform (202 East Market Street) will open to host the much anticipated opening of the market’s 6th season.


For many city dwellers, the IWFM is their standing Saturday morning activity.  IWFM is unique in that all 59 vendors are the actual growers and producers of goods grown sustainably.  There are no wholesalers.  When you buy, you are shaking hands with and supporting the people who do the work.  My favorite market ritual is sipping a fresh pressed green juice from Natural Born Juicers while browsing the whole market, visiting with friends and neighbors, sampling, admiring the abundance of still-vibrant produce some farmers have, and discovering something new.  Our family makes a project of shopping for a really fabulous local breakfast.  Fresh roasted coffee from Harvest Cafe, Amelia’s Bread with farmstead cheese from Ludwig Farmstead Creamery or honey from Wildflower Ridge, granola from Project Endure, eggs and bacon from Schacht Farm, and greens for omelets from South Circle farm.  I love packing all that deliciousness into my bags and smile every time I cook with those gorgeous ingredients.

The Indy Winter Farmers Market will take place every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. from November through April at The Platform in the west end of the historic Indianapolis City Market.  See you there!