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Farmers market site will be south of I-90

Hospital leases grassy field to group; cost will be less than at prior location

The downtown Spokane farmers market is moving off the pavement to an open field a few blocks away.

The Spokane Farmers’ Market Association announced last month that it will relocate from the parking lot at First Covenant Church near Division Street and Second Avenue to the former marching band practice field for Lewis and Clark High School at Fifth Avenue and Browne Street.

“It’s going to be nice on hot, hot summer days,” said market manager Diane Reuter. “Instead of standing on black asphalt, we’ll have grass under our feet.”

The nonprofit association decided to move because of the reconstruction of Second Avenue, which is scheduled over the next two years. The lot the group had been using also recently lost access from Third Avenue because of the stalled hotel construction on the land directly south, said Timothy Pellow, an association board member.

“We were basically going to be a landlocked island,” said Pellow, a farmer at Tolstoy Farm in Davenport.

The field was bought a few years ago for future expansion by Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. The hospital agreed to lease the land to the association for two years for $1 annually and half the cost of property taxes, Pellow said.

Pellow said the group will pay about $3,200 in property taxes this year. That’s $600 less than the association’s property tax bill in 2009 for the church property.

The hospital land was suggested by city officials, who helped broker the deal.

“In allowing the farmers market to use this property, we’re supporting our community in a way that supports local food production and healthy food choices,” said Philip Kercher, Sacred Heart’s facilities manager.

Reuter said there’s plenty of parking on the street and at a city-owned lot under Interstate 90 that’s accessible from Third Avenue. She said the hospital also will allow parking in an adjacent lot on Saturdays.

Meanwhile, Reuter said, the association, which has 50 members, is working with the city on creating a permanent location for the market. She said options include at a city park or perhaps on a closed city block.

“We’ve outgrown our old location,” she said.

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