We heard about "Haymarket Farmers' Market Then & Now" at Lincoln South Rotary Club on June 18, 2021 from Lincoln Haymarket Development Corporation Executive Director Jeff Cunningham.
Jeff presented some historical information - not just about the Farmers' Market but about the Haymarket Area. He provide information as written by Ed Zimmer. You might also read more at https://lincolnhaymarket.org/history.
 
Market square was designated between O and P Streets from 9th to 10th in 1867. That square was an open-air market for produce and livestock. Like other towns where pioneers gathered, there were land sharks and gamblers living in the area.
 
The market square was moved a couple of blocks north to make room for the post office and courthouse. The area grew fast because of the railroad and warehouse district because of increased manufacturing. Many of those buildings have been refurbished.  
 
In 1982 the area was officially designated as part of the heritage of Lincoln when it was named Haymarket Landmark District and it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
 
There was a small farmers' market in downtown Lincoln with 10 vendors. It was moved to the Haymarket area in the late 1980s. Today there are 130 stalls and thee are over 200 people on the mailing list. Many vendors set up for the entire season, while there are some changes from week to week. The farmers' market is open every Saturday (first of May to mid-October) from 8 to noon.
 
Jeff pointed out that there has been a great deal of change in the past 20 years and a number of challenges to work through. Construction and renovation in the area presents an opportunity to be creative - but the farmers' market carries on. The City of Lincoln has provided much support when needed such as with the construction of the Area and Railyard area and when the streets were resurfaced.
 
When Jeff started the farmers' market was located P st to 7th st and Iron Horse Park. Because of demand it expanded to add 8th street between P & Q which added an extra 20 stalls. At first those vendors did not get much traffic because people did not realize they were there but now they are as busy as the others. With more demand, they have expanded to include Canopy Street.
 
The farmers' market is a city market - permits are required for all aspects. And, as they have to move and rearrange, the permits may need to be adjusted. Having a great working relationship with the City helps things continue from week to week smoothly. The vendors also need to comply with permit requirements and inspections of the Health Department. The farmers' marker does have a rules and regulations book and vendors find it helpful. One example is the schedule for set up and tear down.
 
They try to be a green market - environmentally friendly and sustainable. The products you can purchase are varied - fresh produce, beef  and pork products are plentiful. There are also prepackaged jams and salsas. And, you can find fresh flowers, plants as well as artisan booths with crafts. 
 
When asked about the policy of allowing dogs at the market Jeff stated that, originally, they were allowed. There were some issues with unruly animals and owners not cleaning up after the dogs so then they were banned. Recently they unofficially decided to allow dogs again because of the expanded population living in the buildings downtown - and many of them have dogs. They have found that these pets are very well behaved and they have had few problems.
 
The main goal of the Lincoln Haymarket Development Corporation is to get people to Haymarket - to patronize the businesses in the area. Some of the special events in addition to the farmers' market:
Chocolate Lover's Fantasy
Haymarket in White Ball
Halloween in the Haymarket
 
 
BIO

Jeff Cunningham is currently the Executive Director of Lincoln Haymarket Development Corporation (LHDC) and the Haymarket Farmers’ Market business manager. He is employed by LHDC, a non-profit, whose mission is to enhance, promote and protect the historic nature of the district.

He began his career with LHDC in 2001, when he was hired as the Farmers’ Market business manager. 10 years later the title of LHDC business manager was added to his title. 2014 saw his promotion to the Executive Director of LHDC.

As the Haymarket Farmers’ Market Business Manager, his duties include obtaining all necessary permits, processing vendor applications, and weekly placement of vendors.

As Executive Director of LHDC, Jeff works with board and staff to ensure that the mission is fulfilled through events, programs, strategic planning and community outreach. He develops resources enough to ensure the financial health of the organization and oversees daily operations of the organization.

In his spare time, he enjoys trying new restaurants, and traveling with his wife, Diane and their 4 legged Child, Sophie.