It’s the perfect time of year for shoppers eager to shake the hand that grows their food.
Farmers markets are cropping up in new corners of the Inland Northwest, and market managers are working to make fresh vegetables and fruits available to as many people as possible.
The Millwood, South Perry, Montfort School, Cheney and Airway Heights markets received a grant that allows shoppers to use food stamp benefits as well as credit and debit cards, says Angela Pizelo, manager of the Liberty Lake Farmers Market. She also serves on the board of directors for the Washington State Farmers Market Association.
The Spokane Farmers Market started a similar program with federal grant money during last year’s market season. At the markets, buyers who want to use EBT (electronic benefits transfer), debit or credit cards must stop by the market’s information booth and swipe their card in exchange for tokens that can be spent with vendors.
Many area farmers markets also accept WIC and senior nutrition vouchers.
Pizelo says the two new markets in Spokane County this season mean more opportunities for farmers.
“The good news is that many farmers make an appearance at several markets each week. With markets on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday there are lots of options,” she says. “Market vendors range in size from a family that has a backyard garden to farmers with hundreds of acres and a much bigger operation.”
Many of the market managers from around the region are meeting regularly to talk about challenges and share solutions.
At a recent meeting, they discussed ways to glean food at the end of the market days. Much of the food left at the end of the day is composted or fed to animals, she says. She hopes to work with Second Harvest and its “Plant a Row for the Hungry” program to donate the food to needy families instead.
In an e-mail message, Pizelo says she hopes shoppers will continue the trend of spending more on local food despite the difficult economic circumstances for many families. She says each person will have to weigh the costs versus what they get. Many say the benefits of buying local outweigh any higher prices. They like supporting local farmers and the food has traveled less and is more nutritious.
“The average spending per adult customer at the Liberty Lake Farmers Market is just over $7, but a chunk of that is going toward ready-to-eat foods and processed foods. When you consider that a crepe or burrito is $5 and a loaf of bread is $5, most people aren’t bringing raw ingredients home to do their own cooking,” says Pizelo. “But maybe the economic situation will force more people to prepare meals at home. If that happens, will they get their ingredients at their local farmers market, or will they bargain hunt at the grocery store?”
At the Community Roots Market, held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Fresh Abundance store, 2015 N. Division St., organizers are trying to encourage more farmers and backyard gardeners to sell their goods by keeping fees low, says BrightSpirit Hendrix, president of the nonprofit group that sponsors the market, People for Environmental Action and Community Health, or PEACH.
Hendrix says the Pike Place-style market has been held monthly during the winter – the next market day is Sunday. Weekly markets begin on June 14.
Anything grown or made within 200 miles of Spokane can be sold at the market. “The fee is only a $5 fee per $100 in sales, so there is not much of a risk to someone who is trying their hand at something new,” Hendrix says. “Our goal is to create access so folks will be brave and try to make and sell something.”
Vendors who previously sold at the Humble Earth Farmers Market in north Spokane are joining the Community Roots Market this year.
Also, PEACH is starting a second neighborhood market at the Fresh Abundance location in the Spokane Valley, 3324 S. Best Road, from 2 to 6 p.m. on Friday, June 12. The market will be held weekly.
The Millwood Farmers Market wintered inside the Crossing Community Center, but starting next Wednesday it will return to its al fresco digs in the parking lot of the Millwood Presbyterian Church, 3223 N. Marguerite Road. Market hours are 3-7 p.m.
Organizers say access to the market will be tricky this year while Argonne Road is under construction. Drivers can use South Riverway and Grace off Argonne or Vista off of Trent Avenue to reach them at the corner of Euclid and Marguerite. They’ll be putting extra signs up to help guide the way.
A new market at The Center On Sixth, 1717 W. Sixth Ave., is up and running 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays and the Montfort School Community Center, 1915 W. Monroe Road in Colbert, is hosting a market for the first time 4-7 p.m. tomorrow. It will be held each Thursday through October.
The new Fresh Farm Market opens next Wednesday in Pullman. The market will be held 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the parking lot of the Old Post Office Wine Bar, 245 S.E. Paradise, through Oct. 28. The market is sponsored by the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, WSU Organic Farm and the Whitman County Department of Health. The market will serve as a distribution point for customers who have community supported agriculture shares from the WSU Organic Farm.
“We are excited to finally have a downtown Pullman pickup site for the CSA program. The farm will always bring extra produce for folks to buy off the table and we will be there every week,” says Brad Jaeckel, manager for the WSU Organic Farm, in a news release.
Community supported agriculture, or CSA, is a program where customers pay an up-front fee to the farm and then receive a weekly box of produce throughout the growing season.
There will be a ribbon-cutting opening day at 4:30 p.m.
Looking for farm fresh goods? Here’s a listing of area farmers markets:
Airway Heights Farmers Market – Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., through mid-October, 13100 14th Ave., Airway Heights. (509) 235-6707.
Center on Sixth Farmers Market – Fridays, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., through October, 1717 W. Sixth Ave., Spokane. (509) 385-4820 or email@example.com.
Cheney Farmers Market – Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., First Street and College Avenue, starting May 29 through Oct. 16, also open first and third Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., June through September, downtown Cheney, (509) 559-5818.
Chewelah Farmers Market – Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., N. 202 Second St., June 5 through Oct. 18, Chewelah. (509) 935-6311.
Columbia Basin Farmers Market and Bazaar - Saturdays, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., through Oct 31, Moses Lake Civic Park, 418 E. Fifth Ave.; Wednesdays, 2-6 p.m. Third Avenue and Ash Street, beginning June 3 through Sept. 30, Moses Lake. (509) 750-7831.
Community Roots Market – Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 2015 N. Division St. The last monthly market is Sunday. Weekly markets begin June 14. Market sponsor PEACH will open a neighborhood farmers market at the Fresh Abundance Valley location, 3324 S. Best Road, on June 12. (509) 435-5210.
Farm Fresh Market – Wednesdays, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., in the parking lot of the Old Post Office Wine Bar, 245 S.E. Paradise, through Oct. 28, Pullman. (509)334-3565.
Liberty Lake Farmers Market - Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.. Liberty Square Building parking lot, 1421 N. Meadowwood Lane. (509) 475-4574
Millwood Farmers Market – Wednesdays, 3 to 7 p.m., next week through Sept. 30. Millwood Community Presbyterian Church, 3223 N. Marguerite Road, two blocks west of Argonne Road. (509) 924-2350.
Montfort School Community Center Farmers Market – Thursdays, 4 to 7 p.m., through October, 1915 W. Monroe Road, Colbert. (509) 979-0151.
Northeast Washington Farmers Market - Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., through October, corner of Main and Astor streets, Colville. (509) 680-1090.
Pend Orielle Valley Farmers Market – Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., through Oct. 31, Union Street, Newport. (208) 448-1145.
Spokane Farmers Market – Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesdays, starting June 11, at 20 W. Second Ave., between Division and Browne, behind First Covenant Church. (509) 995-0182.
South Perry Farmers Market - Thursdays, 4 to 8 p.m., beginning June 3 and running through October. Christ Community Church, 1317 E. 12th Ave. (509) 879-2987.
Bonners Ferry Farmers Market - Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Oct. 3. Highway 95 at Kootenai Avenue in the Visitor’s Center parking lot. (208) 267-7987.
Farmers Market at Sandpoint - Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesdays, 3-5:30 p.m., through Oct. 10. Farmin Park, Third at Main, Sandpoint. (208) 597-3355.
Hope Farmers Market – Fridays, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., starting mid-June, through mid-September, 415 Wellington Place, Hope. (208) 264-5197.
Moscow Farmers Market - Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon. Jackson Street public parking lot, off Friendship Square, downtown. (208) 883-7132.
Tuesday Growers Market - Tuesdays, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., through October. Moscow Food Co-op parking lot, 121 E. Fifth St., Moscow, Idaho (208) 882-8537.
St. Maries Farmers Market - Fridays, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., 536 Main St., Main Street next to Hughes Historical House. (208) 245-2831.
Kootenai County Farmers Market – Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Highway 95 at Prairie Avenue, Hayden. Wednesdays, 4-7 p.m., Fifth Street between Sherman and Front, Coeur d’Alene. (208) 772-2290.
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