Boise farmers’ markets feed off each other

Sean Ellis

Capital Press

Heading into this year, there was concern about the impact of a farmer-led split from Idaho's largest farmers' market. But farm vendors say both markets in downtown Boise are feeding off each other.

BOISE — Producers say a farmer-led split from Idaho’s largest farmers’ market has resulted in a lot more produce being sold in downtown Boise each Saturday.

Several dozen farm vendors from the Capital City Public Market left and formed their own market this year that focuses solely on food and agriculture.

Vendors from both markets say the two are feeding off each other, encouraging consumers to buy more produce. The new Boise Farmers’ Market is about a block from the southern tip of the CCPM and a constant flow of shoppers can be seen shuttling between the two markets.

“We see people coming from that direction all the time,” said BFM vendor Mike Sommer, co-owner of Purple Sage Farms.

Because of the void created by the farmers who left for the new market, CCPM officials recruited a lot of new farmers to take their place, said CCPM vendor Matt Williams, co-owner of Waterwheel Gardens.

The split “opened up a lot of spaces for new farmers to come into this market, which has brought a lot more produce downtown, and that can’t be a bad thing,” he said.

Sommer said the BFM was formed by farmers who wanted a market that centers solely on local agriculture.

“We decided it was time to start a separate market that focuses on food and is run by farmers for farmers,” said Sommer, a member of the BFM board of directors.

Some CCPM farm vendors, on the other hand, say they weren’t about to leave the 12,000 to 17,000 people the state’s largest market draws each week.

“It wasn’t even a consideration of going over to the other market,” Williams said. “This location is the best location.”

The CCPM still has plenty of farmers and the crowds haven’t diminished, said market manager Melissa Nodzu.

“If you walk through our market, you can see that we have plenty of produce (and) there is no reduction in the crowds,” she said.

Meadowlark Farms owner Janie Burns, president of the BFM board of directors, said the people who come to the new market are there to shop solely for food and prefer not to have to fight the large crowds.

“Our customers love it,” she said. “They’re very thrilled that we’re here and we’re thrilled that everything’s working out well.”

BFM Executive Director Karen Ellis said the new market averages 3,500 customers each Saturday, but they are quality customers who come to the market intending to buy food.

“I think we really established ourselves as the food market,” she said. “People come here with the purpose to shop for food.”

Vendors from both markets believe the two can co-exist and even flourish together.

“We have lots of friends from the other market and we want to all succeed together,” Sommer said.


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