A Fresh Look at Irvington
Summer Sunday afternoons in the Irvington neighborhood of Indianapolis are special. Around 10am, tents start popping up all over the northwest corner of Ellenberger Park (5301 East Saint Clair) and tables are put out. Within just an hour or so, booths full of fruits & vegetables, crafts, art, soaps, and honey are greeting people and selling their products.
It’s not the only farmer’s market of its kind, but it’s a welcome fixture in a state that continues to get 90% of its food from outside our borders.
We took full advantage of our afternoon at the Irvington Farmers Market, walking around talking to the vendors, many of whom are regular fixtures, sampling delicious things, and buying our favorite staples. The Guacamole stand had fresh-made guacamole that could be made as spicy as you like. The father-daughter duo were serving it up with tricolor chips in compostable containers.
You can buy the most gorgeous looking berries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and blackberries over at the Apple Works Orchards booth. They also were selling a special early summer apple, the Lodi, one variety of the over 50 types they grow at their orchards in Trafalgar, Indiana. They have over 7,000 apple trees! They started their orchard in the late 90s and have taken off. You can visit the orchards and they even have a summer train ride for kids.
Many of the produce stand we talked to were supplying not just their own fruits and vegetables but those of neighboring farms and friends. Some had their goods available at other farmers markets around the area through other vendors, reflecting a drive among local growers to increase their exposure while offering a diverse and steady supply of produce to their customers. These growers are working on a small scale to solve what are important and big questions about local food systems and how to meet demands and expectations. It was interesting to discover that right here in one little corner of Indianapolis, the networks that had developed all over the region among farmers.
At the Brick House booth, they were offering dressings for all that delicious produce you could take home. Their dressings can be used as marinades, dips, seasoning for grilled foods, pretty much anything you can think of. Chef Jeff Bricker has clearly developed his recipes to be healthy, delicious, and home-grown.
Glowing amber and gold in the sunshine, there was lots of honey and beeswax products on display at the Wildflower Ridge Honey stand. Beekeeper David Barrickman has been producing local, raw honey and hive products in Anderson, Indiana for 45 years. We spoke with his wife and fellow bee-lover, Pattie, about her concerns for our little pollinators. She said that their honeybees have been dying at alarming rates and the struggle to maintain their honey supply is alarming. The pesticides killing honeybees have resulted in something normally unthinkable for their bee operation: they are feeding their bees in the summer! Growers across Indiana are going to have to act swiftly to protect Hoosier honey and the lives of honeybees.
Next door at home ec preserves, there were jams and pickles with interesting flavors such as tamarind plum jam, blackberry shiraz jam, zucchini pickles, and pickled watermelon rind that practically save summer in a jar. It’s a creative and delicious way to sustainably save all our delicious local produce. They will even give you discounts for returning your jars.
You can supply your bathtub with sweet-smelling salt blends at Soak your Soul. Owner, creator, massage expert, bathtime visionary, Melyssa Burris developed her salts and sprays for her own clients and family and then launched into a local business to relax and rejuvenate so many more. She makes them all right here in Indianapolis and it’s clearly labor of love.
Many of the vendors at Irvington rotate around summer markets, so be sure to check their sites if you want to catch up with them. If you are able to stop by Irvington next Sunday, you can find lots of local treasures. Head over to Ellenberger Park (5301 East Saint Clair, Indianapolis, IN) between 12pm-3pm and enjoy all that our local growers and makers have to offer.