Getting fresh start at farmers market

January 6, 2019

It’s a new year, and that means many people are making resolutions when it comes to their diets.

Dozens crowded into the Lincoln Financial Event Center at Parkview Field on Saturday for the first Fort Wayne’s Farmers Market of 2019. 

“People come down here looking for lettuces and local meats, minimally processed foods and stuff like that,” said Lisa Haagen, market coordinator. “I do think there’s part of a New Year’s resolution that’s coming into play with people coming down here.” 

Saturday was a good day for the market, Haagen said, as guests shopped goods and produce at booths lining the event center walls. Almost anything that could be found at a grocery store can be found at the farmers market, Haagen said, noting that often shoppers come to the farmers market seeking healthier options. 

That could mean organic crops and hormone-free meat or homemade bath products and jewelry, Haagen said.

Everything sold at the farmers market is locally grown, sourced or crafted, she said. 

“Some of our farmers are certified organic, some are not, but that doesn’t mean they’re not following those same practices,” Haagen said. “They just maybe haven’t gone through the paperwork and the cost and all of that kind of stuff, because a lot of them are smaller.” 

The winter months are always a little slower for Joe Bender, who runs Bender’s Orchard near Wolf Lake with his wife, Rachel. Still, Saturday’s market drew a steady stream of customers to Bender’s booth, which featured a variety of apples and Asian pears.

Farmers markets are essential for smaller growers like Bender’s Orchard, especially in the winter. 

“None of the big-box stores will touch the small grower. They’ll make noise about it but they really won’t buy from them, so you’re kind of shut out of that market,” Bender said. “Really, the only good markets you have are the farmers markets.”

Bender’s Orchard, located at the corner of Noble County roads 300 West and 300 South, was established in 1987 and has about 900 trees, Bender said. 

“That sounds like a lot, but for an apple orchard, that works out to about 4.5 acres,” Bender said. “It’s just the wife and I that maintain it, so that’s the limit of what we can do.” 

Fort Wayne’s Farmers Market will be inside the Lincoln Financial Event Center every Saturday until the second week of May, Haagen said. After that, the market will be moved outdoors to Barr Street near Citizens Square. The market is open Saturdays 52 weeks a year.


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