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!

For more information: http://lincolnhaymarket.org/events/farmers-market/


Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.

Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.


That is the mantra of Maggie Pleskac, owner of Maggie’s Vegetarian Café located in the Lincoln Haymarket. Maggie is one of the founding members of Slowfood Nebraska. Maggie’s passion for organic eating was discovered when she was living in California. When she returned to Lincoln in the late 1990s, she decided to try to bring California’s fresh organic eating back to Lincoln, and in the process, support Nebraska producers. The result was the opening of her small restaurant in July 2000.

Upon entering the cafe, a sign reads, “Know your farmer. Know your food.” Maggie takes this to heart, utilizing products from local producers year round.  Some of her local sources include Jisa Farmstead, Dutch Girl Creamery, Branched Oak Farm, and Wise Oven Bread.

Food is never inert energy. Although we pluck it from earth or its mother plant, prepare it or cook it, food holds and irreplaceable and complex set of memories that inform the vital functions of the body, mind and spirit.
–Maya Tiwari

Although small in size, Maggie’s is mighty in flavor.  In September 2012, Food Network Magazine voted Maggie’s Avocado Melt Wrap, “The Best Sandwich in Nebraska.” After trying several of the wrap options, I have to agree with Food Network Magazine, the Avocado Melt Wrap is vegetarian heaven in your mouth. The wrap uses fresh avocado, Jisa Farmstead cheddar, provolone and mozzarella cheeses, roasted sunflower seeds, onion, fresh tomato, mixed greens, and house made Herb Mustard Dressing to create an experience unlike any other.

You can visit Maggie’s Monday through Saturday from 8am to 3pm. If you don’t get off work before 3pm, you can always find a few of Maggie’s wraps or baked goods served down the street at The Mill coffee shop.

“Food is never inert energy.  Although we pluck it from earth or its mother plant, prepare it or cook it, food holds and irreplaceable and complex set of memories that inform the vital functions of the body, mind and spirit.”  –Maya Tiwari

Photo by EpSos

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


For more information: http://lincolnhaymarket.org/events/farmers-market/

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: http://lincolnhaymarket.org/about/history/

Photo Credit: Hydephine


Now that the NCAA Tournament is over, and the dust has settled, let's take time to reflect on this new Nebraska basketball phenomenon and what it means for Lincoln.  As a relative newbie to Nebraska, it didn't take long for me to get caught up in the excitement that is Husker football. Having no prior allegiance to any football team, college or otherwise, it was easy to drink that red Kool-aid and shout "Go Big Red!" The same rang true as 'Nebrasketball' swept over the city this season, and I was hooked.  

Pinnacle Bank Arena  

Pinnacle Bank Arena 

Before I get started, though, I want to get one thing out of the way. Pinnacle Bank Arena ... have we decided what to call it yet? Personally, I prefer The Vault to PBA, so that's what I'm using in hopes that it will gain traction.

Before Coach Miles, I only attended one UNL Men's Basketball game. It was well-attended, but for someone who knows nothing but the basics about basketball, it wasn't very fun. I couldn't tell you who we played or whether we won. It is no secret that Coach Miles was brought in to build this program, but I don't know anyone who expected the kind of season we experienced this year to happen so soon. My first basketball experience at The Vault was when we beat Illinois. To say that the atmosphere was exponentially more intoxicating would be an understatement.

I love Nebraska football as much as the next guy, but there is something in the air at The Vault during a basketball game that cannot be rivaled. Does a roof make that big of a difference? Or is it the inherent excitement that comes with being the under-dog who keeps coming out on top? I'm putting my money on the latter because Devaney didn't have the same magic. Whatever the source, there is an intimacy and enthusiasm at The Vault that I have not experienced at other college sporting events. That excitement is not merely contained by The Vault, though. It spills over into the quickly developing West Haymarket area without abandon.

Canopy Street

Canopy Street

It is a little known fact that early in the season, if you were to approach the entrance to The Vault after half-time, you could get in for the remainder of the game without a ticket. For the last home game, we met some friends for dinner across the street from The Vault, waited until after half-time and made our attempt with no luck. Disappointed, but not defeated, we made our way over to Canopy Street. We spent the remainder of the game outside with hundreds of other fans who watched, screamed, cheered and chanted as though we were court-side. It was an amazing experience I am eager to repeat

So, what happens now?  As we settle into the post-season for basketball, heading into the Spring Game and impending football season, Nebrasketball seems so quickly forgotten. Is it already a thing of the past? I think not. I think Coach Miles and his team of underclassmen are just getting started. In his unfortunately titled piece on BTN.com, senior writer Tom Dienhart writes, "With this coach, with this fan base and with those sparkling facilities, Nebrasketball appears to be on solid footing for the future. It’s going to be fun to see how far Miles can take this program." This newly converted basketball fan couldn't agree more.

Photo credit: Sarah Frederick