Summer in South Bend: Food, Seasons, and Local Produce

Food is a truly beautiful thing. If ever there was a good valued by all, it is delicious food. Good food, like leisure, has its value not primarily from utility, but from delight. And significantly, like leisure, food is often found at the very heart of authentic community. In eating together, we don’t simply savor aromas and tastes. Food, used well, strengthens us to take joy in one another’s company, serving as a catalyst for the formation and renewal of friendship. Examples are not far to find: the family supper, the dinner date, the summer barbecue, the coffee-shop chat.

More wonderful still, every season on earth brings with it its own fruits and flavors, the old cycle of sun, earth, and water that has shaped all cultures and human lives. Summer in Michiana is no exception. It brings with it berries and cherries, cookouts and picnics, all in their time. Nowadays, the seasons notwithstanding, we can purchase whatever foods we want at the supermarkets all year round. Still, it is both edifying and enjoyable to take some time to peruse the seasonal produce of the region in which we Domers live. Here are a couple of ideas.

The South Bend Farmer’s Market
1105 Northside Blvd.
South Bend, IN 46615

The South Bend Farmer’s Market opened for the first time in 1911 on the Colfax Avenue bridge. As it grew in size and popularity, it moved in 1928 to its current location on Northside Boulevard. Although the market has since been rebuilt several times, it still opens on the same days as it always has for over 100 years: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (with the addition of Fridays during the summer). Join other shoppers here to browse all manner of local fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products, as well as jellies, honeys, pastries, herbs, cheeses, and all sorts of handcrafted and locally-made goods. Even if you aren’t buying, take a look around, strike up a conversation with the producers at their stands, or stop by the café at the center of the market, which serves a full menu for both breakfast and lunch.

U-Pick farms and orchards
Indiana and Michigan

Indiana and Michigan are filled with farms. Leave the urban sprawl of South Bend and Mishawaka, and you’ll soon find yourself amidst corn fields and stock pastures. One of the benefits of South Bend’s proximity to the rural countryside is the large number of orchards, vineyards, and farms nearby that are open to the public. Several farms and orchards open their fields during harvest-time to allow customers to pick their own fruit. In the summer, you can pick cherries, berries, peaches, and vegetables; return in the fall, and you can amble amongst the apple trees and pumpkin vines. Farms in St. Joseph County include Blueberry Ranch, Beech Road Blueberry Farm, and The Apple Patch. Across the border in Michigan, there are countless more: Lehman’s Orchards, Tree-Mendus Fruit, Eckler Farms, and dozens of others. Call ahead or take a look at the farm websites for information on what they are currently harvesting. For more farms, check out the listings under Cass and Berrien counties in Southwest Michigan on Pick Your Own, a website that keeps a list of U-Pick farms located across the nation.

Purple Porch Co-op
123 N. Hill St.
South Bend, IN 46617

Purple Porch Co-op sells local, organic, and bulk food items and household goods. They run a grocery store and a café, both open throughout the week, as well as a farmer’s market on Wednesday evenings, where you can meet, converse with, and buy from many of the local producers who sell their goods through Purple Porch. In anticipation of the farmer’s market, you can even pre-order items on Purple Porch’s website in order to help producers avoid wasting un-purchased food. All products sold at Purple Porch were grown or made within a 300-mile radius of South Bend, while all of the participating producers at the Wednesday farmer’s market come from less than 60 miles away.