Benson Farmers Market: "Where Everybody Knows...Your Name"
Hi. My name is Christy, and I am addicted to farmers markets.
For some women, it’s shoes or coffee. For me…it’s those farmers and their darn easy-ups. Oh, how those easy-ups get me every time!
But seriously, does anyone know of a reputable support group for folks like me? (Perhaps one with fresh veggies for sale nearby…wink, wink!)
Since cleaning up my diet a few years ago, I’ve spent the bulk of my summertime Saturdays visiting the glorious farmers markets here in town. I’ve commuted to one end of Omaha or the other each weekend, anticipating my purchases along the way (…or belting out highly inaccurate lyrics to whatever happened to be playing on the radio…whatever!).
Because I live in midtown Omaha, you can imagine the relief I felt the day I discovered a Saturday market that is centrally located. As an added bonus, it’s right in my own neighborhood! Seriously. I can walk there! Heck, sometimes I skip! So, “bye-bye” lonely commutes (with occasional impromptu concerts)!
Tucked away in downtown Benson on Military Ave. (just North of Maple St.) is one of Omaha’s “best kept secrets.” The Benson Farmers Market is a quaint neighborhood market offering everything from free-range meat and eggs to garden-fresh veggies, comb honey, fresh cut flowers and homemade granola. Want a shot of wheatgrass (and who doesn’t, right)? Never fear—they’ve got that, too! Most weeks they also have events scheduled, such as gardening or cooking demonstrations, live music, and free raffles! So far this year, lucky visitors have won garden gadgets, dozens of farm-fresh eggs, and whole free-range chickens from Kvam Family Farm!
Benson Farmers Market is a local market, but with many of the vendors growing their products within walking distance of the market, it has a unique “hyper-local” twist.
With folks like Joy Patton (who grows a bountiful harvest in her backyard, “Bedford Gardens”) and Russ Martin (a.k.a. “Crazy Tomato Guy”—well, what else do ya call a guy who started 70 varieties from seed this year?!), you can find just about every vegetable imaginable grown literally within blocks of the market. Now that’s fresh!
Want some freshly-juiced wheatgrass that’s grown just down the road? Stop and see Justin Graham at his Grass to You booth and order a shot. (Thinking your own lawn would taste even fresher? Take it from me, there’s a reason they use wheatgrass, people! Don’t try this at home—well, unless you order a tray of grass from them…and they do deliver! Whew!)
And just wait until later in the season—that’s when John shows up offering fresh comb honey—a sometimes difficult-to-find, natural treat! He lives just blocks away from the market, too, and he has his very own bee hive at his house!
And, since he’s just blocks away from my house, as well, his bees stop by my garden from time to time, offering their pollination services. Pretty cool bonus for me, huh?
Bet you didn’t even know you could have your own hive in the city, did ya? Well, you can. (Good thing you’re reading this article!) Incidentally, in Omaha you can even legally keep laying hens in the city limits, too. But I digress.
So, I LOVE that much of the food at my neighborhood market is grown right in my neighborhood. Do I love that even more than I love those darn easy-ups? Indeed. But what I enjoy the most about the Benson Farmers Market is its small-town atmosphere. Many visitors (and “visitor” is a much more fitting term than “customers” in this case) arrive on bike or on foot, and the market has a way of making everyone feel right at home. Some visitors hang out so long that they’re easily mistaken for vendors at times! Some Saturdays, I can almost hear the Cheers theme song playing in the background. Sure, that atmosphere is something you’d expect in a small town somewhere, but smack dab in the middle of Omaha? What are the odds?!
Of course, there are many other farmers markets in Omaha, too, and several new ones have sprouted up this year, giving us an array of choices between weekday or weekend markets, as well as morning or evening hours! Details about all of the markets are included here, so go ahead and find the markets nearest you that work best with your schedule. Heck, if your schedule is flexible enough, why not challenge yourself to check out ALL of them before the end of the season?? (Don’t worry, there’s still 3 months left for you to get this done!)
No matter which farmers market you prefer, there’s just something comforting about knowing where your food comes from. It’s nice to eat things knowing that they are as fresh as possible and were picked at their peak stage of ripeness, rather than picked early and shipped across the country—or around the world for that matter. Once you get to know the folks who are growing your food, you quickly gain an appreciation for the labor of love that can make even the simplest of meals taste “out of this world!”
Do you have a favorite market? We’d love to hear about it! Just leave a comment below. What are your favorite items to buy at the local markets? I love to get fresh eggs, lettuces, and zucchini!!
OMAHA FARMERS MARKETS
Location: Military Ave at Maple Street (between 61st and 62nd Streets)
Hours: Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Season: May -Sept.
Contact: Janelle Grieco, 402- 571-1785
Click here for Facebook page!
Elkhorn Valley Farmer’s Market
Location: Heritage Nursery (212th & Maple)
Hours: Wednesdays, 5 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Season: June 9 – Sept. 22
Contact: Nancy Fredrickson, 402-510-7125 or plant-gal [at] hotmail [dot] com
Florence Mill Farmers Market
Location: Florence Mill, 9102 North 30th Street (I-680, Exit 13)
Hours: Sundays 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Season: June 6 – Sept. 26
Contact: Linda Meigs, 402-551-1233
Midwest Trade Days
Location: Scary Acres site, 17272 Giles Road
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Season: June 4-6, July 2-4, Aug. 6-8 and Sept. 3-5
Nebraska Crossing Farmers Market & Swap Meet
Location: I-80 at Exit 432
Hours: Thursdays, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Season: June 3 through September
Location: Downtown at 11th & Jackson in the Old Market
Hours: Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Contact: Anna Baker, 402-345-5401
Papillion Farmers Market
Location: Papillion City Park (84th & Lincoln Road)
Hours: Wednesdays, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Season: through September
Contact: Dawn Gumm, 402-597-2041
Sunday Market at Aksarben Village
Location: Aksarben Village (67th Street from Mercy to Center Streets)
Hours: Sundays, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Season: May 30 – Sept. 5th
Contact: Anna Baker, 402-345-5401
Sunday Garden Mart
Location: Presbyterian Church of the Master (10710 Corby Circle)
Hours: Sundays, July 4-Labor Day (9am-11am); during Sept. (10am-12pm)
Season: July - Sept. Contact: 402-493-0239 *All produce sold for donations only - proceeds aid hunger relief in the area
The Outdoor Market at Midtown Crossing
Location: East side of Midtown Crossing at 31st & Farnam Streets
Hours: Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Season: Memorial Day through Labor Day
Contact: at katie [at] planitomaha [dot] com or 402-333-3062, ext. 208.
Click here for website!
Village Pointe Farmers Market
Location: Village Pointe Shopping Center, South Parking Area (168th & West Dodge)
Hours: Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Season: May 1-Oct. 2
Contact: Michael Braunstein, 402- 639-2760