South Bend Farmer’s Market: A Slice of History

Posted on October 25, 2011 by


Less than a mile from the IUSB’s campus is a large red building in the shape of an ‘H’ that many students pass on their way to class. This building is the South Bend Farmer’s Market (SBFM). When I first moved to South Bend to attend IUSB, I was skeptical about the area. When I set foot in the SBFM for the first time, it truly was a thrilling situation. I felt at home and comforted by the fact that within a mile from my classes and 2 miles from my house I had the option to shop at a bustling local market. The produce is fresh and locally grown, the conversation is always interesting, and the smells in the air cannot be replicated. Walking into the market and strolling around the vendors is an experience. This experience has been the reason that many families in Michiana have been utilizing the SBFM for all it has to offer for many generations. Here are some of the market’s offerings as stated on the SBFM website,

The market continues to offer the same benefits to the community as it did at the beginning: fresh, home-grown produce (fruits and vegetables), dairy products, meats, poultry, eggs, maple syrup, jams, jellies, flowers, handcrafts, artwork, jewelry, and many more unique items.

I assure you– this is a condensed list. The merchandise and produce is never the same and changes with the seasons. The market has a charming café nestled in the middle that is always busy due to the exceptionally wonderful food and service. The ingredients of the meals they prepare and serve are purchased from the market’s own vendors. The Farmer’s Market Café serves breakfast and lunch and includes daily specials. One must try a homemade cake or pie! The café has been open for over 85 years and just one bite of their food will clarify how that is possible.

The SBFM has been open for 100 years. In 1911 when the market began, it was located on the Colfax Bridge selling produce and merchandise grown and created by locals. The market became too large for this location and moved to South Fellows Street. Capacity proved too small once again and the market moved to its current location on Northside Boulevard. A fire in 1971 destroyed part of the building the market resides in today and was rebuilt within the year. The market is still open on the days originally set in 1911. The city of South Bend recognizes the market as a landmark due to its noteworthy history and evolution.

My personal favorite vendor in the market is Sawyer’s Meats. This family has had a spot in the market for 95 years! Four generations of owners still hustle to fill orders. I typically visit the market on Saturdays, time permitting. When I stroll past Sawyer’s, I always search for the 4 generations. The eldest of the Sawyer’s sits at the meat slicer, always hard at work. The other family members are behind the counter and it is not difficult to place which generation they belong to. Plus, their meat and cheeses are phenomenal!

Michiana farmer’s, small gardeners, businessmen, and concessionaires keep this market alive and well. Since the SBFM carries a seasonal supply, there are many fall goodies this time of year. Varieties of apples, pumpkins, gourds, beets, and cider await you. Enjoy the history of the market by stopping by once in a while for a quick look or bite to eat. Many families have made it a tradition to shop at the market and to support local businesses. Take a break from class and take the short walk, ride, or drive to the South Bend Farmer’s Market. You will not be disappointed. As many foodies sustain and support: “Eat Fresh, Eat Healthy, Eat Local!”

For more on the SBFM visit their Facebook. Seasonal hours of operation and location.