Get fresh! Farm, markets offer vine-ripened goodness
Writer / Rosalyn Demaree
Kyle Spencer’s dream was to farm, although raising beans and corn wasn’t appealing.
His decision to grow fruits and veggies on about 32 acres at Spencer Farm, 7177 E. 161st St., gets two green thumbs-up from anyone who frequents Noblesville’s only U-pick farm.
The 31-year-old business offers in-season asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, chrysanthemums, pumpkins, gourds and pre-cut Christmas trees.
Kyle and wife Lori have a fruitful, but not easy, life.
“A U-pick farm is a lot more work than you might think,” said Lori. “We’re constantly weeding, all by hand.”
There’s planting and pruning, and the gift shop must be stocked with baked goods, kitchen items and Indiana produce. The open sign hangs at Spencer’s from noon-7 p.m. Sundays, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Work slows in the off-season but doesn’t stop.
First-time picker? Follow Lori’s tips:
• Strawberries are most plentiful a week after picking starts. For large quantities of those juicy shortcake toppers, go the second or third week of June.
• Crowds are smaller in the afternoons, “but it’s hotter then,” she reminded.
• Take sunscreen and a kneeling pad. Fruit isn’t made in the shade, and it grows close to the ground.
• Biggest isn’t always best. Like Tiffany’s little blue boxes, small berries are often sweetest.
If you like local produce already picked, Noblesville’s Thursday Market and Farmers Market are can’t-miss experiences, said Renee Oldham. She directs Noblesville Main Street, Inc., which coordinates both markets.
The smaller, Euro-style Thursday Market is open 5-8 p.m. Thursdays through Sept. 18. It’s tucked into the Conner Street alley between 8th and 9th streets but it’s easy to find: Listen for the music or follow the tantalizing smells of ready-to-enjoy foods.
Oldham doesn’t play favorites when it comes to market vendors. “I like them all,” she said, praising the wide selection of produce, fresh food items, baked goods, BBQ, egg rolls, TexMex, wine and art.
A food court has been added to the older and more traditional Farmers Market (8-noon Saturdays through Oct. 14 at Ind. 32 and 19), where 85 vendors sell an abundance of produce, bedding plants, fresh-cut flowers, honey, handmade items and baked goods.
“Come hungry, because there’s so much great food,” suggests Oldham, calling the market a pet-friendly, social gathering. “Make time to experience it. If you come at 8, there will still be things to see and activities at noon. Once your car is loaded up, come downtown for lunch and to support more local businesses.”