Planning a trip to Indiana? Make sure you don’t miss out on the local markets. They’re available just about anywhere in the state! As a life-long Hoosier (our name for an Indiana local) I believe they’re one of the best ways to get a glimpse of agriculture and the role it plays in our local communities. Shopping at the local markets are also a fantastic way to explore the culture sustainably, through seasonal crops grown right in state and purchases which support local Indiana farmers.
Most of our farmers markets operate on Sunday mornings, typically around the hours of 8am-1pm. However, it’s best to always check the times and locations before you visit. Hours of operation and locations of the markets will vary depending on the season.
Where to find local markets in Indiana
The current tally on Farmers Markets in Indiana sits at about 183 according to the National Farmers Market Directory. Marion County is home to 16 of those, which is the county where I have lived most of my life! You can check out their directory for the full list by city and Indiana Grown if you’re looking for a map.
Local Indiana Produce
Indiana is perhaps one of the best states to experience all four seasons, with spring, summer, fall, and winter all having the potential for drastically different weather. As anyone versed in agriculture will know, this means the crops vary by season too. Here are some of the foods you can expect to find at your local markets depending on the season:
- Green Beans
🥚🧀Most markets will also have some local cheeses, eggs, milk, and meats for sale too, and baked goods ranging from breads to pies to granolas.
According to Visit Indiana, my home state produces over 20% of the United States’ popcorn supply with nearly 50% of all cropland in the state being planted in corn. There’s a saying “knee high by 4th of July” which means that if the corn crops are at knee high height by our Independence Day farmers could expect bountiful crops. By fall, it’s tall enough to craft intricate corn mazes through dozens of acres.
If you come when sweet corn is in season, make sure you try an ear of corn on the cob. Or one of the other countless forms in which we like to consume this staple crop.
Farmers Market 101
There are a few things you should know before you visit a market that will make your experience smoother.
- Many vendors don’t take credit cards, especially in smaller markets, so having cash on hand is recommended (you can often find an ATM nearby the markets though if you forget).
- Bring a tote bag for your produce to avoid accumulating a lot of plastic bags.
- Don’t forget your dancing shoes! Many markets will have live music and are generally a lovely place to spend a morning, even if you don’t intend to buy a lot of produce.
- During COVID-19 times, make sure you have a mask and bring lots of hand sanitizer.
- There are usually food vendors at the markets too offering ice creams, pretzels, nachos, baked goods, and countless other yummies you don’t want to miss.
- Eco-tip: bring your own eating utensils, napkins, a coffee thermos, and leftovers containers so you don’t need to use the plastic ones most vendors will provide.
- Don’t be afraid to shop around – most vendors will have some serious overlap in the produce they have on offer so give the market a once-over to find the best prices and produce before you buy.
- Haggling isn’t recommended or common practice – it doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but most vendors are very competitively priced and don’t have much room to budge on price to stay profitable. Plus all your purchases are directly supporting a local farmer, so it’s just kind to go in expecting to pay the asking price.
- DOGS. There are so many of them at farmers markets, as most markets are pet friendly.
- If you’re afraid of dogs then approach the markets with caution. I’m a dog lover who doesn’t have a dog, so getting to pet all the pups of strangers is a highlight during my visits.
My favorite markets in Indiana
I was first exposed to the Farmers Market scene as a college student at Indiana University in Bloomington, about an hour south of Indianapolis. Bloomington remains one of my favorite cities in the world, and one of the best spots in Indiana for sustainability. The market draws huge crowds on Sunday mornings and has an incredible variety of offerings for produce and snacks. There’s also a large section of the market with craft and artisanal vendors which I really enjoy.
On the Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, there’s a market every Wednesday which I also really enjoy. Whereas Bloomington definitely has that smaller, college-town feel, this market is located right smack-dab in the middle of the city amongst skyscrapers and historic monuments. On my last visit, they even had a food truck selling raclette straight from one of those giant cheese wheels.
The Broadripple Farmers Market is another one of my go-to spots, just minutes from downtown Broadripple – another awesome spot in Indianapolis I would recommend checking out on a visit. This market is situated in the parking lot of a high school so it’s slightly less scenic than my other two favorites, but I’ve never been disappointed with the selection.
I hope this has convinced you to add a farmers market visit to your Indiana bucket list! Whether you’re looking to stock up on groceries and cook farm-fresh meals for the duration of your visit or you simply want to get a glimpse into Indiana culture and cuisine in a down-to-earth style, it’s sure to be a highlight of your visit.
ecomadic is a sustainable tourism brand that empowers travelers to make more conscious decisions. By curating a marketplace to easily find and identify responsible businesses to support, and providing educational publications through our online green travel magazine, ecomadic is committed to helping empower travelers make responsible choices throughout their journeys.