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.

Summer in South Bend: Books

Reading a book is one of the great forms of leisure. Reading for enjoyment is an activity that has little tangible utility. It adds nothing to your resume nor does it impress admissions committees, and, unless you are very fortunate, no one will pay you to read a book for the delight of it. But of course, that’s not what leisure is about anyway. Reading feeds the soul and the mind. Good stories tell the truth about human beings and the world in which they live. They hold up a mirror in which we glimpse our own selves.

Now, if there’s one thing that is sure to attract a swarm of graduate students, it’s good prices on good books. Nowadays, most of us purchase our books online. But for the literary at heart, there is still no place like a comfortable, creaky local bookshop for whiling away those summer hours. Check out the impressive array of titles, new and used, available at these shops in South Bend.

Griffon Bookstore
121 W. Colfax Ave
South Bend, IN 46601

Located in downtown South Bend, Griffon’s is a bookstore like no other. They sell books, of course: new books on the ground floor, ranging from paperbacks to leather-bound and illustrated classics, and used books in the basement. Their selections include literature, philosophy, history, and poetry, not to mention a discounted paperback section. But their specialty, broadly speaking, is leisure. Along with books, Griffon’s sells a wide selection of card and board games, especially of the strategy, fantasy, and history varieties. On their shelves, you’ll find such popular titles as Settlers of Catan and Seven Wonders, as well as full lines from small game manufacturers like Fantasy Flight and Days of Wonder. Many of their games are less commonly available in larger retail stores, and a number have received game of the year awards from around the world. The establishment also maintains several gaming rooms available for reservation over the weekends, free of charge, and for those who are interested, they host regular gaming events throughout the year.

Not a gamer? Not a problem. They also sell used vinyl records, paper dolls, and all sorts of plastic models. Ask the proprietor to show you around.

Idle Hours Bookstore
212 S. Michigan St.
South Bend, IN 46601

This little bookstore is also located downtown, two blocks south of Griffon’s, and it is worthy of a place on a cobbled street in Europe. Idle Hours carries an excellent collection of used literature, including classics and children’s, as well as theology, history, poetry, and biography. For those who are curious, they even have a section on local history. The store may be small, but the books they keep in stock are well worth perusing. If you are searching for one title in particular, you may not find it here, but ask the owners what sort of book you are looking for, and they will be sure to show you something worth your time.

Erasmus Books
1027 E. Wayne St.
South Bend, IN 46617

On the other side of the river, you’ll find Erasmus Books, located in an old house and established by an emeritus professor of theology at Notre Dame. Once again, you will find used books of nearly any sort here, though the selections in theology, philosophy, and literature are especially extensive. The house is quiet and charming, and, although it is packed full of books, it’s not difficult to find your way around. If you are a bookworm, then this is the bookshop you’ve been looking for. Note that the store is only open Thursday through Sunday in the afternoons.

 

Finally, don’t forget about South Bend’s St. Joseph County Public Library! Check their website for family events and drop in to get your free library card and peruse their collection.

Things I Wish I Knew: A Letter to Incoming Students

I graduate in one week with a MA in Peace Studies from Notre Dame. The two-year program has provided amazing opportunities to grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet, there are things I wish I knew before coming to the program. I hope they help you in your journey as an incoming student.

  1. Your department or cohort is who you will spend the majority of your time with. The downside is that you do not have as many opportunities to get to know others in different departments. The upside is that you often become very close to those in your program. For an extrovert like me, I tried to overcome this by attending events for graduate students and meeting undergrads at football games and other campus-sponsored events. I also happened to have a few classes with undergrads and enjoyed conversation over coffee and lunch. Additionally, I contacted different professors, faculty, and administrators who I thought would be interesting to get to know and asked them out for coffee.
  2. Sometimes you will feel overwhelmed by the amount of readings, assignments, and papers you have to do. During my first semester, my professors assigned about 500-700 pages of readings each week. Remember to take a deep breath and prioritize your to-do items. Eventually you’ll develop tactics to manage your assignments.
  3. There are a lot of free events, lectures, activities, and food giveaways on campus. I discovered this fairly quickly upon arrival, but think it is important to share. Notre Dame brings in amazing speakers, ranging from Heads of State to activists. While you may be tempted to skip out on certain events because you have a lot of work, consider attending some of these each year. It is also a great way to meet other people and take a break from work.
  4. There are a lot of wonderful resources on campus-from the Rec Sports fitness facilities to the Hesburgh Library and the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures (CSLC). Take advantage of the resources they offer, from kickboxing class and Kung Fu, to foreign language support.
  5. Notre Dame offers a variety of funding opportunities for research and presenting at conferences. Although MA students are not eligible for the same opportunities as Ph.D. students, I was able to secure funding to present at conferences in Italy and Spain. Consider looking at the Graduate School, Nanovic Institute, Institute for Scholarship and Liberal Studies (ISLA), and your home department.
  6. While academics are an important part of your grad school experience, don’t forget to enjoy your time on campus. Because Notre Dame’s academic programs are rigorous, it’s easy to focus all of your attention on maintaining a high GPA. While there is nothing wrong with striving for academic excellence, remember to keep things in perspective. You will develop life-long friends, be mentored by amazing faculty, and get to spend several years at one of the foremost universities in the nation. Remember to enjoy the sun after all the snow has finally fallen, meet new friends, and grow as a person.

Enjoy your time learning, growing, and experiencing all the wonderful opportunities Notre Dame offers.

Go Irish!

Tamara Shaya