TWIN FALLS — Farmers markets represent a microcosm of a community coming together in one place.
Statewide, 42 farmers markets bring their residents together, according to the Idaho Farmers Market Association.
The Magic Valley boasts a number of impressive farmers markets. Whether looking for fresh vegetables or handmade crafts, members of the community can enjoy meeting their neighbors and supporting local businesses without traveling very far.
Saturday markets across the valley
The Jerome Farmers Market offers a slice of history. Located on the grounds of the Mountain View Barn, visitors can find fresh produce, pies and cakes, cookies, gourmet popcorn and hand-sewn quilts among the vendors.
Kathy Bartholomew, market director, attributes the popularity of the market to the genuine caring of the vendors.
“Our job is to sustain and help each other,” Bartholomew said. “Our customers just become like family.”
The site of the market has changed over the years.
“We used to be down at Crossroads Point,” she said. “The wind was incredible.”
Mountain View Barn provides a windbreak, Bartholomew said with a chuckle. The site also offers restrooms and a place for visitors to enjoy breakfast or lunch.
“It’s a win-win for both of us,” she said.
Another advantage to the location is the travelers who come to the barn.
“We have people from all over the world come in here,” Bartholomew said.
The Twin Falls Farmers Market, located off North College Street at the Breckenridge Endowment Farm on the College of Southern Idaho campus, gathers as many as 95 vendors on the grounds, market director Sabrina Davis said.
“This market is constantly changing,” Davis said, meaning visitors can find something different on a weekly basis.
“Everything is made or grown within 150 miles,” she said.
Pottery, grass-fed beef, handmade goats milk and aloe soaps, clothes, bread, cookies, produce, jewelry and artwork are among the treasures to be found.
Downtown Twin Falls hosts another farmers market Saturdays on Main Avenue. Shops and restaurants along the stretch display their wares, along with local vendors offering T-shirts, clothes, handmade leather goods, jewelry and food.
Furniture made from wine barrels is a unique draw for the Downtown Twin Falls Farmers Market. Pat and Leslie Stoffal of Filer acquire the wine barrels from area wineries and construct tables, stools, chairs and benches from them, among other works of practical art. The “stain” is made from the coloring of the wood that originates from the vintages stored in the barrels.
All through the week
The Wood River Farmers Market Association offers two markets during the week: the Ketchum Farmers Market and the Hailey Farmers Market.
“We’re one organization, but we have two separate farmers markets,” the association’s President Katie Zubla said.
The Ketchum Farmers Market takes place from 2 to 6 p.m on Tuesdays. Set in the parking lot of the River Run Ski Lodge at the base of Bald Mountain, more than 40 vendors flock to the site.
Although a handful of crafts are sold at the market, “we’re trying to reinforce it more as a farmers market, with at least 75% producers,” Zubla said. That includes fruits and vegetables in season, beef, pork, lamb and baked goods.
Another draw for the Ketchum market, Zubla said, is the food court and the beauty of the site, where it’s possible to enjoy lunch, walk the trails, and browse the market.
The Hailey Farmers Market is held from 2 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays. Smaller than its Ketchum counterpart, the Hailey market offers a hometown feel.
The Gooding Farmers Market runs from 3 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays on the corner of 13th Avenue and Main Street. Vendors offer breads, pies, crafts, plants and produce.
“We’re always welcoming new vendors,” said Mel Gallup, a vendor who handles marketing.
The markets serve an important economic niche as well.
“It’s well known that money that’s made within the community stays within the community,” said Denise Dixon of the Idaho Farmers Market Association. “A farmers market can help a community create a robust local economy.”
Dixon sees farmers markets as something every community needs.
“The neighborhoods thrive and citizens tend to buy local when it’s available,” she said.
From my perspective, the food available at local farmers markets tastes so much better than the store-bought equivalent. Maybe it’s the care and dedication that goes into producing it, complemented by the sense of community.