The best flavors are farm fresh

Lincoln farmers’ market stresses the importance of buying local

Emy Wood

If you believe Nebraska is only filled with endless corn fields, think again. Every week, more than 50 vendors display their finest selections of fresh produce like eggplant, apples and zucchini alongside baked goods, plants and more at the Old Cheney Road Farmers’ Market.  

Rain or shine, vendors have gathered at the Old Cheney Center Market every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m since April 27, and they’ll continue to show up until October 26.

For some history, co-owner Kevin Loth and his wife Charuth, both of ShadowBrook Farm, set out to fill the demand of a Sunday market for the Lincoln community by creating the Old Cheney Road Farmers’ Market nine years ago.

As the market’s manager for two years, Megan Jackson stresses the value of buying local.

“We are a producer-only market,” she said. “The people you see here are the people who make and grow the food.”  

Aside from the standard farm produce, Old Cheney hosts an array of small businesses. Some businesses include Johnny’s Handmade Salsa, Daffodil Mediterranean Cuisine, P.S. It’s Gluten Free and Kat’s Fresh Flowers. Samples and smiles are given freely to the wandering customer.

A huge draw to shopping at Old Cheney is the vendors’ ability to accept credit/debit cards and SNAP/EBT cards. Instead of paying at each booth with a card, customers exchange a $5 charge with a wooden coin. Vendors accept the coins and give cash back during purchases. These coins never expire. “This keeps the vendors from having to pay charge fees,” explained assistant manager Sarah Erdlen. “The market assumes that cost.”

Take note that the Old Cheney Road Farmers’ Market has the longest market season in Nebraska, so it’s not too late to scope out some crisp kale and soft peaches. And, aside from supporting the community and local farmers, every week offers a new experience and new produce.

Take a break from studying and wander over next Sunday. Even if you just say hi, you’re helping build our community from the roots up. “This is a tight-knit community,” said Jackson. “We are supporting each other.”

Fresh tips:

- Look around. Vendors vary on price and quality.

- Seek advice. If you’re unsure on how to use a vegetable, ask what the best ways to prepare them are. Plus, there will be produce you don’t see at the supermarket.

- Carpool. Expect parking to be pretty crazy and crowded at peak times, so carpooling is definitely a good idea.

- Bring your own bags. This cuts down on waste and saves the farmers’ money, while giving you a sturdy bag.

- Go early or go late. The best produce sells quick. But, for the best deals, go near the end and most farmers will sell their last stock at discount prices.

Emily is a sophomore studying communication.