Farmers market with a twist in Garden City

A new operation will serve the Boise area with local produce all year - in indoor comfort.

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comAugust 31, 2013 

farmers market, local, produce, indoor

Bobbie Jo Roberts arranges a row of fresh produce while setting up her area Friday at the Idaho Indoor Farmers Market.

KYLE GREEN — Buy Photo


    In late 2011, the city of Boise paid $24,500 to a Maine consultant to determine whether there is enough supply and demand for a year-round, indoor public market.

    "He came back and said, yes, there's definitely an appetite," said Cece Gassner, Boise's economic development director.

    Most markets start small and have limited hours, Gassner said. Some open just one day a week at first.

    Identifying a building the right size with sufficient parking in or near Downtown will be the biggest challenge to a Boise market, Gassner said.

    Will a market in Garden City satisfy the demand? That's not clear, and finding an indoor market has become a lower priority for the biggest market in the Valley since its leadership changed.

    Lisa Duplessie, executive director for the Capital City Public Market, said an indoor market is not in the nonprofit's goals for the next three to five years but is a possibility for the future.

    "The idea of a year-round farmers market is super-fun," she said. "It's a really interesting undertaking."

Public markets that sell fresh local meat, dairy, produce and baked goods 12 months a year are popular from Seattle to Boston.

Jackson Bricker, 39, a Treasure Valley restaurateur, was inspired by indoor markets he'd seen in his travels, including the McMinnville Farmers' Market about 38 miles southwest of Portland. He began working this past spring to launch a market in the Boise area.

His Idaho Indoor Farmers Market opened Friday at 4983 Glenwood St. in Garden City, next to the Revolution Concert House and Event Center. It will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays to Sundays.

On the first day, the wares filled just a small part of the big space. But one of the reasons Bricker chose a former grocery building in Garden City is to capture afternoon commuter traffic.

"We're on two very busy streets," he said, gesturing to cars flying by on Glenwood and Chinden Boulevard.

The building has 17,000 square feet, more than twice what he was looking for. One of the few stipulations of his lease is that he can't sell coffee - Starbucks operates in a building across the parking lot. He hopes to eventually have all kinds of vendors, but he's focusing his initial efforts on produce.

"That's the biggest thing for me - I want to provide local veggies," he said.

Bricker, part-owner of Varsity Pub and Muse Bistro and Wine Bar in Meridian, doesn't have a green thumb. And Idaho's climate makes winter growing tricky.

So Bricker is leasing space in a greenhouse in the Boise County hamlet of Garden Valley. He's contracted with a pair of avid Garden City gardeners - Bobbie Jo Roberts and David Cates - to grow vegetables at the greenhouse through the winter.

Roberts, 28-year-old head chef at the Knitting Factory, said she hasn't sold at any local markets previously and just recently got a vendor's license. She and Cates, who are gardening buddies, donate or give away a lot of the produce from their large garden.

"It's a community garden," Roberts said. "We allow other people in the community to come in, and some have volunteered to help."

Some of what Roberts and Cates will sell at the market this weekend: English and lemon cucumbers, purple basil, sage, tarragon, mint, cantaloupe, bell peppers, green beans, purple beans and Kentucky wax beans. Soon, they expect to have heirloom tomatoes and tomatillos.

Bricker has a business partner who may provide fresh local meat and dairy products. He also plans to supplement locally grown produce with organics from warmer climes - bananas, for example.

"You have to provide people with more than what you can grow in a greenhouse in the winter," he said.

Katy Moeller: 377-6413

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