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Boise farmers’ markets thrive after split

Sean Ellis

Capital Press

Capital City Public Market, Idaho's largest farmers market, and the new Boise Farmers Market, which was created by former CCPM vendors who wanted a more ag-centric market, are co-exisiting well and even feeding off each other.

BOISE — About 14 months after a few dozen farmers split from Idaho’s largest farmers’ market and formed their own, growers at both markets say they’re doing well.

Farm vendors at the new Boise Farmers Market, which was designed to be more farm-centric, say they’re happy there, while farmers at the Capital City Public Market, which includes artisans and other non-ag vendors, say they’re glad they stayed.

“Absolutely no regrets,” said Meadowlark Farms owner Janie Burns, chairman of the Boise Farmers Market board of directors. “The atmosphere here is more food and farm-oriented and that’s what we wanted.”

Several blocks away at CCPM, Waterwheel Gardens co-owner Curtis Williams said he wasn’t about to give up the 15,000 or so potential customers that pass through that market each Saturday.

“The Capital City Public Market is the place to be and the place to be seen,” he said. “I just want to be where the crowds are and I didn’t want to move. The market hasn’t skipped a beat. It’s bigger than ever.”

Burns and a core group of other farmers in the region left CCPM last year to form their own market that focuses solely on food and agriculture. CCPM, Idaho’s largest farmers’ market, includes artisans and other vendors unrelated to agriculture.

While CCPM has much larger crowds, the 3,500 to 4,000 people that visit the BFM each week are there solely to shop for food, said BFM Executive Director Karen Ellis.

“People here are coming to shop for food,” she said. “They’re here to shop; they’re not here to browse and sample.”

CCPM Executive Director Lisa Duplessie said her market was forced to actively recruit new farm vendors for the first time because of the split and now has about the same number of ag vendors as before.

“We’ve actually never been busier,” she said. “Seven new ag vendors came in this year, which was really exciting.”

The markets were a block and a half away from each other last year but construction has pushed the CCPM farther north and the two are now separated by several blocks.

Still, Boise residents have adapted to both markets and they are co-existing and even feeding off each other now, Ellis said. A constant flow of people can be seen going between the two markets each Saturday.

“It’s been a great co-existence,” Ellis said.

For some vendors, it’s the best of both worlds.

M&N Cattle Co. has booths at both markets and its business has increased about 50 percent as a result, said marketing director Jim Birdsall.

“It’s worked pretty good for us,” he said.


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