IDAHO FALLS — Want some fresh product but didn’t grow any yourself? No problem, because there are at least four east Idaho farmers markets open during the summer months with all types of vendors.
Farmers markets are growing in popularity all over the country, and in this agriculture area they seem a natural result of the hard work of many entrepreneurs and farmers who want to share the fruits of their labors with locals.
Customers who visit east Idaho farmers markets can find all kinds of things — from tomatoes picked that morning, to artisan cheese and bread, shaved ice, or handmade arts and crafts — all while soaking in the nice summer weather and listening to live music.
But they also get something they don’t get at a retail store — a chance to meet and talk to the people who grew or made the items.
Idaho Falls Farmers Market
Now in its 29th year, the Idaho Falls Farmers Market is located on Memorial Drive from A Street to D Street. It is open Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May thru October. Vendors sell a variety of food, plants, handmade items, and artisan items. Musical entertainment is also featured.
The Idaho Falls Farmers Market is a non-profit organization with a volunteer board of directors. The farmers market’s purpose is to provide a location for agricultural producers, food producers and artisans to sell their products and promote the sale of agricultural products grown locally.
Customers are a mix of local regulars and also many tourists who are coming through the area. Some of the vendors have been with the market since the beginning, making a strong base for the market to really thrive.
Junean Stoddard has been a vendor at the Idaho Falls Farmers Market for 14 years. Besides being a place where she can sell things, the farmers market has come to mean so much more.
“It is not only a place where you can buy local grown food, but it has a social aspect to it as well,” she said. “People connect here. Here tourists can talk to vendors who live and work here.
“I have met many people from all over the country and world. It is always fun to say, hey I sold some jam to someone from New Zealand. Just think, the jam I made is going to go around the world or across the country. It is even more fun when they call you from across the country and love your product so much they want you to ship it to them. I love it when a tourist wants pictures of the giant zucchinis or onions because people back home will never believe what they saw.”
She added when new vendors request a space at the market, they consider them carefully.
“We look to see if this is a small agricultural business or the artisan,” Stoddard said. “Large corporate farms or manufacturing businesses are not what we are about. We are more about the small farmer or gardener who is actively engaged in the whole process, or the artisan that is making one of a kind crafts or works of art. I think this is really the fun part of the farmers market, where the consumer is talking to the producer.”
For more information, visit www.idahofallsfarmersmarket.org.
Rigby Farmers Market
Now in its fifth year, the Rigby Farmers Market is located at the Crown of Life Lutheran Church at 3856 East 300 North. It is open Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. This year it ran from June 21 to Aug. 30. Vendors offer product, cheese, food, handmade jewelry and more. There was also live music every week.
The market was started by Emily Thomas, who noticed several entrepreneurs in the area and wanted a way to bring all of their creations in one place.
“I started it in my garage and grew from there,” she said.
Later the market moved to Scott’s True Value where it had 12 vendors. As it kept growing, it was obvious they needed more space, so they moved to the church and had 30 vendors over the summer.
“We’ll be forming a board next year so I can get some help with organization,” Thomas said.
It’s been fun to see the number of vendors grow, but Thomas said they don’t necessarily have a ton of customer traffic. “We have regular customers. We did a survey and we have about 250 people come through in four hours. That’s not a lot, but our vendors do well. We see a lot of the same customers filling bags every week.”
While the Rigby Famers Market is great for local entrepreneurs, it’s also great for the community. “The most valuable thing I feel I get out of the farmers market is networking and meeting people,” Thomas said.
For more information, find Rigby Farmers Market on Facebook.
Portneuf Valley Farmers Market
Now in its 27th year, the Portneuf Valley Farmers Market is located at Old Town Pocatello at Fremont and Union Pacific. This year, it’s open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from May 6 thru Oct. 28. It was also open as part of Revive@5 in the same location on Wednesdays thru Aug. 30.
According to organizers, the farmers market in Pocatello started with the help of Simplot with a few farmers that didn’t produce enough for chain stores but too much for the family. A few vendors have even been with the market since it first started.
The farmers market has grown to include over 100 vendors, which sell a variety of items such as cookies, soap, pottery, produce plants, metal art, and much more.
For more information, visit www.pvfm.info.
Rexburg Farmers Market
Now in its 9th year, the Rexburg Farmers Market is located on College Avenue in downtown Rexburg every Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. through the end of September.
It started when a few local residents had the idea to start a farmers market and started meeting together and contacting vendors. Then they found out the city was hoping to start a market as well. The two parties joined forces and got it started, although the farmers market is still owned and operated by the vendors.
It has grown steadily and now has 25-30 vendors. They sell produce, honey, handcrafted items, soap, bath bombs, candles, gluten-free backing mixes, granola, t-shirts, corn dogs, roasted Mexican corn, kettle corn, fudge.
The Rexburg Farmers Market is held on Fridays since several of their vendors also sell at the Idaho Falls market on Saturdays.
Lisa Jones, manager of the Rexburg Farmers Market, said one big reason she wanted to start the farmers market there was so she could shop at it.
“Also, our family wanted to do something together. So we started selling kettle corn,” she said.
She hopes the market will keep growing as more people learn about it and realize how great the atmosphere and camaraderie at the farmers market it.
“I think it’s a great gathering place for the community,” Jones said. “I love seeing friends and neighbors see each other. It’s a social event that happens every week. We also have a lot of people who try out the new businesses at the farmers market, and that’s a nice opportunity. I think it’s a really good place for the community and the college students to connect, too.”
For more information, visit www.rexburgfarmersmarket.org.
Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com columnist
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Carrie Snider, EastIdahoNews.com