Near North: The New Farmers Market on Tinker Street

{This article originally appeared in "Life on Tinker Street" magazine.}

Adam Mueller had no prior experience with the process of starting farmers markets; his professional career as a lawyer at Indiana Legal Services focuses on legal aid for those in poverty.  But Adam is a committed resident of Fall Creek Place and an enthusiastic supporter of community-building efforts in Indy's urban neighborhoods.  Over the past year or so, he had the energy and drive to create the newest gathering place on Tinker Street, Near North Farmers Market, located in the parking lot of Herron High School every Saturday morning this summer.

Adam Mueller grew up in Zionsville, Indiana, while his wife Lisa Adler grew up not far away in Brownsburg--but they never met until they were in law school together years later in Bloomington.  After graduating and getting married, they lived on Mass Ave for a few years until they eventually found their way to an old house that had been rehabbed in Fall Creek Place and became homeowners.  That was 10 years ago.  Along the way, their family grew to include two children, a son and a daughter, who love attending the neighborhood school, Center for Inquiry #27.  Adam and Lisa's original plan didn't necessarily include staying in Indy long-term, but as time went on, they realized they truly loved their community of neighbors and couldn't see a reason to leave.  Now they're looking {somewhat far} ahead towards eventual retirement and being able to stay in their own neighborhood because of its mixed-use, walkable nature.  However, about 3 years ago, Adam started noticing something that was not walkable in their area:  a farmers market.  The Mueller family enjoyed the Broad Ripple Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, but it was difficult to make it a weekly habit because of the 15 minute drive each way.  They realized at the end of each summer they'd only been able to go once or twice, even though they really valued supporting local farmers.  Adam and Lisa started discussing with each other how great it would be to have a farmers market in their neighborhood that they could walk to on Saturday mornings.    

 Adam's idea might have remained just that--an idea--if it were not for his friend Dr. Deborah Cooney, who lives in Woodruff Place and works at Herron High School (and the new Riverside High) as vice president of operations.  In conversation one day as Adam and Deborah were chatting, the idea for a near northside farmers market came up, and she was immediately interested and highly supportive.  This eventually led to Herron High graciously offering the use of its space to Adam and his team for the farmers market, and we as neighbors and beneficiaries are all very thankful.  Adam began talking to community organizations, including Purdue Extension, which operates programs supporting local farmers and agriculture, and he gathered vendors and sponsors, until finally everything was ready for opening day on June 3rd, 2018. 

Here's what to expect if you stop by the market on a Saturday morning between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm, from now through the end of September:  Tinker Coffee, pastries, fresh fruits and veggies from Fruit Loop Acres and Lawrence Community Gardens, pastured eggs, chicken and turkey from Miller Family Poultry Farm, canned goods from Smith's Apple Butter and JF BBQ Sauces and Rubs, Sonshine kombucha, handcrafted wood decor by Project Lia, and more.  The pastries come from Artisan Bakery & Pastries, a shop owned by Jose and Julie Reyes, who are neighbors from Mapleton-Fall Creek.  "At the market we typically bring about 10-15 different pieces of pastries (orejas, conchas, cinnamon rolls, empanadas, yoyos, almond or chocolate croissants, cookies), a couple of breads (jalepeno and cheese, spinach sourdough, and a venetian soft dinner bread), free samples of a 'cake of the week,' as well as the popular rice milk and cinnamon drink Horchata," says Julie.  If you come at 10:00, join in with the free yoga led by Altitud, the fitness studio in the Piccadilly building on 16th Street formerly known as Treehouse Yoga.

Julie Reyes of Artisan Bakery says about the market, "It's a great way to start your day (Tinker Street coffee and our pastries), hang out and reconnect with neighbors and grab some farm fresh items for the week!"  Many thanks to Adam Mueller and other neighbors, sponsors and vendors who have helped make this new farmers market a reality this summer.  It's more than just a way to get weekly veggies and fresh eggs; it's a social space and a conscious way to build community.  We hope this 'pilot year' is the first of many!


Herron-Morton Place, Then and Now: Blondina's Story

Photo credit:  Colman Love Photography.

Photo credit:  Colman Love Photography.

For the past 51 years, Blondina Morgan has thought of Herron-Morton Place as her home.  She's witnessed firsthand some incredible changes in the neighborhood since 1966, when she moved there as a toddler with her mother, Lula Mae Journey, and five older siblings.  Their Victorian-era home on New Jersey Street had been converted into a duplex, but after Ms. Journey bought it in 1971, she turned it back into a single-family home for herself and her six children.  Lula Journey was a city councilwoman for twenty years, as well as a board member of King Park Development Corporation and the Marion County Health and Hospital Corporation.  She also worked for the Center Township Trustee's office, which provides emergency and short-term assistance to the needy.  Everyone in Herron-Morton knew her mom, Blondina said, and their house became a gathering place for neighbors, because Lula Journey was always willing to offer food or help to those in need.  "Our community was a close-knit family," she said.  When asked about her memories of growing up in Herron-Morton, Blondina replied, "It has always been a safe neighborhood.  Back then, crime was very low, as long as you didn't go north of 22nd Street where the gangs were ("Dodge City").  We kids were not allowed to cross 22nd Street... it was like night and day (the difference between Herron-Morton and what is now Fall Creek Place)."  She added, "Everyone watched out for each other and each other's children... it was the definition of a true neighborhood.  All the neighborhood kids played in the streets, and we knew we had to be home when the streetlights came on, when it was getting dark."  She also remembers being able to get everything their family needed from within the neighborhood; on Central Avenue at 21st Street, there was a grocery store, laundromat, Hook's drugstore, and a fish market.  There was also a bank on 16th Street.  Blondina has been glad to see some of those amenities returning to the neighborhood over the past decade; there are now several restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, doctor's offices, a nail salon and a grocery store within a 6-block radius of her home. 

Blondina's positive memories of her childhood include the Boys & Girls Club, formerly located at 23rd and Guilford Avenue, which she and her friends attended after school (at IPS 27).  The Club taught them how to knit, crochet, and dance, and it was there she first learned how to sew--something that profoundly influenced the direction of her life.  (Boys & Girls Clubs still exist in various locations around the city, but they no longer teach these types of skills, focusing instead on academic tutoring and sports.)  Blondina went on to excel in sewing and tailoring classes at Arsenal Tech High School, and she graduated from Indiana State University with a degree in textile manufacture and marketing.  After college, she worked for custom clothing designer/master tailor Don Day, who had a studio in the Propylaeum Carriage House, on Delaware Street in the Old Northside.  Today Blondina works as a financial field specialist for the U.S. Postal Service, but she hasn't given up sewing:  she owns 10 sewing machines, and at least three rooms of her house are dedicated to her beloved hobby.  She makes and sells fashion pillows in her spare time.  

About 11 years ago, Blondina bought her childhood home from her mother, when the house felt too big for her mom to take care of anymore.  Before deciding to buy her mom's house in 2006, she had built a new house in a subdivision near Eagle Creek Park, but didn't end up staying long; she felt the pull of city life and moved back home to Herron-Morton with her own two children, who were then in high school at North Central HS.  She welcomed the challenge of fixing it up, and has remodeled it gradually over the past decade.  She is now engaged to be married, and busy with the work of combining households, but she's not moving; she loves her home and is proud of her neighborhood, and her mother's contribution to it.  "I tell everyone about it... our neighborhood is still very diverse, and everybody is welcome."  She enjoys volunteering at the Talbott Street Art Fair every summer and also serves as a precinct committeeperson for the area.  "I know my neighbors, and they know me."  The connectedness of neighbors on New Jersey Street is something you don't often find in the suburbs, said Blondina.  From block parties on the esplanade in the center of the street, to the annual neighborhood progressive dinner, there's something very special--and irreplaceable--about this community she's been part of for most of her life.