By Michelle Stein
If you’re on the hunt for fresh, locally-grown produce, baked goods and more, you needn’t look further than the Downtown Lima Farmers Market.
Located on Main Street by Veterans Memorial Civic Center (between Market and Spring streets,) this fresh food haven has returned to the downtown area for the 2017 season. Area residents can stop by from 3-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Oct. 17.
So what types of fresh goodies can area residents expect to find at the Downtown Lima Farmers Market this season? It all depends on the week, said Jennifer Fickel, manager of the market.
“A lot of it will depend on what they have,” Fickel said. “I know some goes fast — the strawberries went fast when they came. And if they don’t have a whole lot of something; green tomatoes is a big item. That poor lady, she would bring green tomatoes and they would sell out. And people would come and be like, ‘Do you have green tomatoes?’ and she would be like, ‘Well, I did!’ It’s a Catch 22: You want to provide the green tomatoes, but if you pick all of your green tomatoes, you won’t have any red ones.”
Early-season produce offerings included asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries. Some of the produce people also sold plants early on in the growing season, for people who were looking to grow their own gardens. As the season continues to progress, things like tomatoes and corn have started popping up — in addition to cucumbers, squash, zucchini, melons, onions and more. And then, of course, pumpkins will be making an appearance in October.
“There’s always baked goods,” Fickel said. “They run the gamut on candies and baked goods. The people that do that are just amazing. They have some pies, cookies, breads, jams and jellies.”
Sweet Dream Gourmet will again be offering its homemade jams, jellies and biscotti this year, she noted. And you can bet there will be popcorn for sale — at least, when the weather is dry. Customers can also expect to find homemade items, such as soaps and lotions. One new item to the market this season: A vendor from an apple orchard, when apples are ripe for the picking.
“There are some very faithful customers that come every week,” Fickel said, advising local residents to come early for the best selection. “They support it, they love it and they spend a little bit of money at each vendor — which is very kind, very nice. A bunch of them come every week just to see what else is new.”
When it comes to access, market-goers have a few different parking options, Fickel said.
“Customers can actually park on the other side of Main Street, where they tore down all of those buildings,” she said. “They can park along there and of course, they can park in front of the city buildings across the street. And on the Market side of the Civic Center, I think I saw some parking spots there, too.”
Fickel invites area residents to come spend a Tuesday afternoon this summer to walk around downtown Lima, check out local businesses and stop by the farmers market.
“It’s really good to get foods that are locally grown without the chemicals,” she said. “And fresh, locally-grown things promote small businesses in the area, helps the economy. Hopefully it will bring customers to local businesses downtown that may not realize how expanding downtown is actually becoming. And how there’s so many cute little stores.”
With Activate Allen County working with the Downtown Lima Farmers Market, it is sponsored by St. Rita’s Medical Center and the Lima Area Chamber Foundation. To keep up with the latest offerings and news, follow the market on Facebook (search “Lima Farmers Market”) or stop by to check it out in person.
Recipes courtesy of vendors JK Farms and Live Life Years Younger:
STRAWBERRY POUND CAKE
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
Cream together sugar and butter in a large bowl. Add eggs, flour and salt, mixing well. Add strawberries and vanilla and continue mixing until incorporated.
Pour batter in loaf pan. Bake for about 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake tests clean.
SOURDOUGH BREAD PUDDING
5 cups sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups milk
2 egg yolks
1 cup organic sugar
1 tablespoon organic vanilla
1 teaspoon LLYY Autumn Blend (available at Live Life Years Younger booth) or use 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup organic raisins
Whipped cream, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place bread cubes into a 2-quart casserole that is greased or sprayed. In a large bowl, beat the milk, eggs and yolks, sugar, vanilla and the Autumn Blend. Stir in raisins.
Pour mixture over the bread cubes; stir.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center tests clean.
Whip cream for topping.
Serve bread pudding warm, with a dollop of whipped cream and a dash of Autumn Blend on top, if desired.
Note: This bread pudding may be prepared and refrigerated for a few hours or overnight before baking. This results in a fluffier texture, which the vendor prefers.