Farmers markets season kicks off
New venue in Veradale is latest site for local produce, handicrafts
Open air, fresh produce and friendly conversation – welcome to another season of farmers markets.
Enticing shoppers with local honey, bread, pastries, farm-fresh produce and home-crafted wares, the established markets in Liberty Lake and Millwood are joined by a new market in Veradale.
“I’m really excited,” said Priscilla Marlow of the Veradale Farmers Market. “It’s a perfect place for a market. It’s a safe atmosphere with no fast traffic.”
Since the market opened on May 7, an average of 10 vendors line the large grassy area on the west side of the Eagles Lodge. Every Tuesday from 2 to 6 p.m., marketgoers can find fresh fish, local produce, honey and other family-friendly vendors.
One of the vendors, Alice’s Baked Goods, just opened a couple of months ago. Owner Alice Darrah sells pastries as well as a variety of homemade breads.
“Business has been good,” said Darrah, who plans to sell a variety of pickles in July. “I made fresh cinnamon rolls this morning and they’re all gone.”
Marlow thought of creating a Spokane Valley market two years ago when she and her husband were returning from the Kootenai County market in Coeur d’Alene.
“It took two years of courage to do it,” Marlow said. “My husband said if you’re going to talk about it, might as well do it.”
After contacting the city of Spokane Valley earlier this year, Marlow got the ball rolling.
“With their help, it got me really excited about it,” Marlow said. “The city made it very easy and gave me all the information I needed to set up the market.”
Liberty Lake Farmers Market
The Liberty Lake Farmers Market opened for its 11th season on May 18. The market is one of the area’s largest, with more than 50 committed vendors.
“We have a lot of local farmers starting with produce to sell,” market board member Holli Parker said. “It’s amazing.”
Six new vendors plan to join the market over the season including Cherry Bomb Organic Garlic, Piper Farms and Trezzi Farm, that specializes in ready-to-bake Italian dishes.
Parker remembers opening day in 2002, with six vendors setting up shop in the pouring rain. Today the market averages 500 to 1,000 shoppers, with peak attendance at an estimated 1,800 visitors. The attendance is counted twice a season by board treasurer Paul Puhek and his wife, Susan.
A themed event is planned every month beginning June 15 with Art in the Market, showcasing local artisans. The sixth annual Italian Festival gets underway July 20 with Italian pastries, cooking demonstrations and live music. On Aug. 24, it’s Pie Day at the Market including a pie eating contest, baking demonstrations and other activities. In September the market plans a customer appreciation day, followed in October with its “Buy out the Farmer.”
Millwood Farmers Market
The Millwood Farmers Market opened its seventh season May 22 with 21 vendors filling the Millwood Community Presbyterian Church parking lot. The market has commitments from 35 vendors to sell over the course of the season.
“It’s hard to believe,” the Rev. Craig Goodwin said about the seventh season. “It speaks well for the Millwood community.”
This year the market has a new manager. Brad Thiessen will oversee the weekly operation of the market as Goodwin, who is pastor at Millwood Presbyterian, is taking a sabbatical over the summer.
“My goal is to get more of the occasional marketgoers into the deeper experience,” Thiessen said in an email. “Bring new faces who don’t realize the amount of quality food, crafts and other items that are produced locally.”
This year the market offers an art co-op booth, featuring 12 to 15 local artisans and craftsmen. The concept involves a group of artists sharing the load, taking turns manning the larger booth.
“We hope to connect to local artists,” Goodwin said. “It’s a new concept and it’s not fully in place yet.”
Thiessen said he is working on increasing the online community presence of the market this year, including posting weekly updates. He is also working on developing a special community festival later in the season.
Both the Liberty Lake and Millwood markets accept debit and credit cards and state WIC coupons. The Millwood market also accepts EBT cards for food purchases.