By SEAN ELLIS
BOISE — Several local farmers who sell their products at the Capital City Public Market have split from Boise's largest farmers’ market and formed their own.
The new Boise Farmers Market, which is also located in the downtown area and will open April 6, will focus more on agriculture, said Lee Rice, owner of Rice Family Farms, a small organic farm.
"It's going to be more farmer-centric," said Rice, a former CCPM vendor.
The new market, which will operate a few blocks from the CCPM, is 100 percent grower-owned and everything about it will be linked to food and local agriculture, said Janie Burns, president of the Boise Farmers Market board of directors and owner of Meadowlark Farm, which will sell frozen lamb at the market.
"It's more local and more agriculture-centric," said Burns, a founding vendor of the CCPM. "We are looking for a farmers’ market that really focuses on food and agriculture…."
About 10 percent of vendors there will be artisans but even they will have to figure out a way to include an agricultural theme into their art, Rice said.
Vendors who serve ready-to-eat and processed foods will have to include at least one locally produced food ingredient in their products the first year, then two the second year and so on "until we explore what the local ag scene can provide," Burns said.
When the split was made, most of the farmer vendors at the CCPM moved to the new farmers’ market, Rice said.
The new market has about 30 vendors right now and that number is expected to grow significantly, Rice said. A membership promotion committee has been formed to look for more vendors and any one interested in the market can call (208) 345-9287 or get more information at www.theboisefarmersmarket.com.
Local farmers had been discussing the possibility of forming their own market for more than a year, Rice said, but the final decision followed the CCPM's September firing of Karen Ellis, who founded the market in 1994 and oversaw its expansion into the largest farmers’ market in Idaho.
"That was the straw that broke the camel's back," he said.
Rice said farmers who were vendors at the market felt they were becoming a minority at the market.
CCPM officials did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this story.
"This has been in the works for almost an entire year," Burns said. "We tried very hard to work within the status quo. It became very obvious we couldn't, so that allowed us to think about this."
Rice said there are no ill feelings on the part of farmers and he hopes both markets can co-exist and flourish side by side.
"We think there is room for both markets down there," he said.