Farmer's Market

It's That Time of Year Again...

In a few short days, the Haymarket will be transformed and filled again with the sights, smells and sounds of the Farmer’s Market.  It will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 2 when the opening whistle blows.

As always, each year brings new vendors and produce to the Lincoln community. This prized Lincoln tradition has a strongly rooted history in our city’s past and present. To read more on those, check out my posts here for the history of the farmer’s market and here for where we are today!

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The Haymarket Farmer's Market: The Sneak Peak

In a few short days, the Haymarket will be transformed and filled again with the sights, smells and sounds of the Farmer’s Market.  It will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 3 when Louie blows the opening whistle.

Some things to look forward to this year:

  • Buffalo is back! Randy and Jane Miller, of Miller Bison Inc. in Adams, will have bison meat for sale.

  • Manila Bay's lumpias (veggie egg rolls) and spring rolls, hot out of the fryer

  • To her fellow chocolate hounds, Linda recommends chocolate cupcakes and huge chocolate and peanut butter rice krispie treats from PJ Baby Cakes, and Michelle with Biscotti Mommy specializes in a variety of flavors of biscotti

  • Louie recommends Gary Zicafoose's “Maizingly Sweet” sweet corn, as well as sweet corn sold by the Daniels family (affectionately known as the “melon girls”)

  • Louie's tried beef jerky from just about everybody over the years and keeps coming back to the jerky made by Willis, from Frank's Smokehouse in Wilber.  His colaches are excellent too.

  • Among my personal favorites are Ty Gardner's Wisconsin Cheese booth—where you can find really delicious “squeaky” cheese curds, among other cheesy goodness

What’s the Harvest Schedule?

  • May:  Asparagus, Herbs, Lettuce, Rhubarb, Spinach, Turnips, Radishes

  • June-July:  Strawberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Eggplant, Garlic, Green Beans, Herbs, Lettuce, Muskmelon, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, Zucchini

  • August:  Apples, Grapes, Watermelon, most vegetables

  • September-October: Gourds, Pumpkins, most vegetables


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Photo Credit: Chris Martino

The Haymarket Farmer's Market: The Tradition Continues

There's a timeless feel to what goes on among the old warehouse buildings down in the Haymarket on Saturdays during the summer and fall—a local community coming together, folks from both the city and the farm, enjoying the exchange of hand-crafted and homegrown goods. Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, from May 3 through the summer and fall, the streets of the Haymarket will once again close to traffic and fill with local produce, fresh-baked goods and crafts, and of course, the crowds of people who thrive on the festive atmosphere that surrounds the Haymarket Farmer's Market.  

Anyone who grew up on or near a farm, or who has benefited from a friend's over-abundant garden knows that there is something special about produce that was in the ground just a day or so ago.  You can expect a different flavor from zucchini that has dirt still clinging to it or a tomato that smells pungently like....a tomato.  Farmers and gardeners from all over the area get up at the crack of dawn to load their trucks with fresh seasonal produce, and some of the favorites (like sweet corn) can go pretty fast.  

Louie Hanson and his wife Arla, of Fairbury, started bringing their metal crafts and custom lawn signs to sell at the market in 2002, and the appeal of the farmer's market is no mystery to him.  “I'm sure it's relaxing for people who have to work in an office all week to come and get a good dose of the outdoors.  We don't understand that, living in the country, but for us it's our excuse to go to the big city, catch up with the people we know, and of course make a little money on the side.”

Louie and Arla drive from Fairbury as early as 5:30 a.m. to ensure lots of time to set up and shoot the breeze before the opening whistle blows at 8:00.  Louie has become such a fixture at the market that manager Linda Hubka designated him the official opening whistle-blower.

Linda Hubka, the on-site market manager, stands in the Haymarket where the streets will begin to be lined with tents.

Linda Hubka, the on-site market manager, stands in the Haymarket where the streets will begin to be lined with tents.

Linda came on board as the on-site market manager in 2001, and she and business manager Jeff Cunningham have since worked tirelessly to preserve the tradition while allowing the market to grow and adapt to the city as it changes.  The last few years those changes have come in the form of construction on the Pinnacle Bank Arena and West Haymarket development.  Before it was the Railyard, the block northwest of the market was a big parking lot they could use, and they feel that loss keenly.  On the flipside, the farmer's market now has the go-ahead to expand into Canopy Street if needed, although Linda's not sure how much of that new space will be filled this year.

Even the inconveniences of construction and volatile weather haven't frustrated the momentum of the farmer's market, in Linda's experience.  “One of the biggest surprises is how well we get through the challenges.  We've set up in rain that turned into a downpour, then stood in water nearly up to our knees watching flats of plants go floating by.”  With 24 markets to schedule every year from May through October, in a state where weather is unpredictable at best, they have never canceled.  Rain or shine, the tents go up, and people do come.

Photo Credit: Christina Case

The Haymarket Farmer's Market: One of Lincoln's Original Traditions

The Haymarket Farmer’s Market represents an open-air market tradition that has been revived just within the last 30 years.  The original Lincoln “farmer's market” was in existence in 1867.  That was the year that the Nebraska Territory officially became a state and Lancaster, a small town of about 2,000, came out on top in the political fight with Omaha to move the location of the state capitol.  (Lancaster was actually renamed after recently-assassinated President Lincoln under the influence of Omaha supporters, who hoped it would create opposition to the move, since many people south of the Platte River had been sympathetic to the Confederacy).  

At the time, Market Square, the block between O and P streets from 9th to 10th, served as an outdoor market for produce and livestock and became a central gathering place for the growing community, as well as a camping ground for the wagon-loads of immigrants passing through on their way west.  A decade later the city moved the market a few blocks north and named the area Haymarket Square, in order to make space for the post office and courthouse that the federal government decided to erect.  

Haymarket Square continued to serve as a hay and livestock market until 1886, when it became the site of Lincoln’s first City Hall.  Lincoln exploded in growth throughout the 1880’s, due in large part to the railroad and the scores of manufacturing jobs that came along with it.  Several of the original warehouse and hotel buildings that characterize the Haymarket now have been preserved from Lincoln's boom town era (like the Creamery Building, Apothecary Building, and Lincoln Station.)

The Haymarket district was designated a landmark by the City of Lincoln in 1982, and began undergoing a process of revitalization.  As part of it, a small farmer's market that had started in another downtown location moved to the historic district around 1990 and has grown from about 10 vendors to over 200.

Think the history of the HayMarket Farmer's Market is great? Stay tuned to read how the Farmer's Market has grown to what we know today. To dive deeper into the history of the Lincoln HayMarket, check out:

Photo Credit: Hydephine