Garlic, rhubarb and herbs are already abundant at the Farmer’s Market, but the piles of fresh produce are a few weeks away.
On its first day of the season Saturday, the market was not crowded, but vendors were not disappointed.
“It’s good,” said organic grower Ellen Scriven between selling pepper plants, dahlia bulbs and a variety of other products from her six-acre Rose Lake farm. “We’ve often had rain the first day.”
Though the region was drenched on Friday, on Saturday market shoppers were greeted with a nearly cloudless sky.
Ron Smith and “Bossman” Jim Brown, members of the Acoustic Music Guild, provided background music as visitors strolled among the tables, inspecting bird houses, tie-dye shirts, dried flowers and hundreds of perennial plants.
“It’s windy, but it got rid of the rain clouds,” said a relieved Pam Kleinbeck, the market manager.
Kleinbeck also was pleased that people found the market at its new park-like location. The Farmer’s Market moved from the Ekness Meats property to the southeast corner of Prairie Avenue and Highway 95.
The move was necessary because the Ekness property is for sale.
Some vendors, including Scriven, have been with the market since it opened in 1986 in downtown Coeur d’Alene. Back then, a block of Sherman was closed to traffic for the Saturday market.
That arrangement only lasted one summer, however.
“The rumor was the dirty old farm trucks weren’t appreciated,” Scriven said.
The new location benefits from the shade of well-spaced ponderosa pine, easy access from the highway, and plenty of parking.
Parking will become more important as the season matures, attracting more vendors and customers.
“When all the plants come on and all the produce, it’s just a zoo at 8 o’clock,” Kleinbeck said. “People come in droves, and they’re like vultures, so they can get the choicest picks of everything.”
The swarms of early shoppers attest to the unique nature of a farmers’ market - everything is fresh and locally grown.
The food-oriented market is augmented with other homemade or hand-raised products, such as Brian Howard’s rabbits and rabbit pelts, and Kate Calton’s homemade soaps and hair rinses.
“Catnip stimulates hair growth,” Calton said, describing the ingredients of her brunette hair rinse. “Parsley makes your hair real shiny. Herbs are really penetrating. They’re neat.”
Though most vendors do not rely on the weekly Farmer’s Market for their living, it has been a primary source of income for some.
For the owners of Killarney Farm, it’s a major effort to prepare their goods for the fair.
“This and a little roadside stand is pretty much our living,” Scriven said.
“We spend from dawn until after dark on Friday preparing. We get a few hours of sleep, then we’re up at 4:30 a.m. to get everything down here.
“By the end of Saturday, we’re beat.”