For 23 years, the Indianapolis City Market hosted its annual Original Farmers Market on the 200 block of East Market Street between the markethouse and the City-County Building. But last year that convenient spot was derailed by a major reconstruction project of that street, forcing the Farmers Market on to Monument Circle. Combine the remote location with severely limited Downtown foot traffic amid a pandemic, and the results weren’t encouraging.
For 2021, the 200 block of East Market Street remains under construction, but this year’s Original Farmers Market – which gets under way Wednesday, May 5 – is at least closer to “home.”
The vendor booths will be located on the 300 block of Market Street just a block over from the traditional location, directly off the Indianapolis Cultural Trail (between Whole Foods and the Cummins building). Meanwhile, several elements of the Farmers Market will be found on the City Market’s East Plaza. That list includes the information booth, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program redemption booth, new vendors, and family-oriented fun activities, including bocce and cornhole.
The Original Farmers’ Market will run every Wednesday through the end of October, rain or shine from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The market will feature up to 25 local farmers and small businesses outside, in addition to the 25 current Indianapolis City Market merchants located inside the historic markethouse. From fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses to confections and unique spices and herbs, visitors can find fresh foods that have been hand-selected at their peak, Farmers Market organizers said.
This year the market has also partnered with Growing Places Indy, a local non-profit organization, to offer additional volunteer support and host family and cooking nutrition classes in the City Market demo kitchen.
For those who utilize food assistance benefits, The Original Farmers’ Market will offer the dollar-for-dollar matching program, doubling spending up to $20 through the Fresh Bucks Program. For more information, shoppers can visit the “FAQs in a SNAP” post on the City Market website.
Also administered through the Original Farmers Market is the “Buy 2 Give 1” program. The food gleaning program encourages shoppers to purchase additional items for those who are in need of fresh, healthy products. All of the donations are made at the City Market tent during the Farmers Market hours and are given to homeless missions to prepare healthy meals for those in need. According to City Market officials, thousands of pounds of produce are given to those who need it most through the program each year. In fact, nearly 3,000 pounds of fresh Indiana-grown produce was gleaned throughout the 2018 Original Farmers’ Market season.
“Now more than ever, it is critical to provide our communities with access to fresh, local food in our location downtown while helping to create foot traffic to support our indoor market house merchants,” said Market Master Mandy Wright Jarrett, manager of operations/facilities of The Indianapolis City Market. “Farmers Markets have proven to be an essential resource for many individuals, as well as small businesses during the pandemic,” she said. “Not only are shoppers filling their basket with good-tasting, healthy foods, but they are also supporting the local growers and small businesses dedicated to providing us with the freshest foods available.”
Changes and precautions have also been made to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. The market will be continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation, rules, and regulations and adhering to CDC guidelines and the recommendations of state and local health department officials. Social distancing will be strictly enforced, and guests are encouraged to bring masks and gloves. On-site hand-washing stations have also been made available, and pre-ordering and pre-paying vendors are encouraged. A list of vendor contacts can be found at indycm.com.
PHOTO ABOVE: Traditionally staged directly in front of the Indianapolis City Market (as shown), the 2021 Original Farmers Market will be located immediately east on the 300 block of East Market Street.