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Boise's Seasonal Markets Return with New Vendors, Fresh Ideas


If you try to eat local, then the three-month stretch from January to April when Boise lacks a farmer's market can seem like a never-ending slog. Luckily, the dry spell is nearly over. On Saturday, April 6, the Boise Farmers Market will return to the City of Trees, and on Saturday, April 13, so will the longstanding Capital City Public Market, restoring Boise to its previous art-, meat-, dairy- and produce-rich state. While the reappearance of the markets is no surprise, organizers of both groups say they have new things up their sleeves for the 2019 season.

As its followers on Facebook have already learned, this year's Boise Farmers Market will, for the first time, start the season by literally opening its doors. That's because the market has shifted locations from its previous home in a parking lot at the corner 10th and Grove streets to a brick-and-mortar at 1500 Shoreline Drive. The market has long been on the hunt for a new home, and the space on Shoreline comes complete with additional parking and more square footage for vendors and events. For those worried about the logistics of bouncing from market to market, a popular Saturday option in years past, BFM Interim Marketing Manager Tamara Cameron said a solution is in the works.

  • Lex Nelson

"We are working on a Saturday shuttle that will travel from our location to the downtown core and backā€”it's not final, but [I'm] 90 percent sure it will happen," Cameron wrote in an email. "There will be scooters and bikes to rent and we'll have a large bike corral."

BFM's grand opening April 6 will be one big party, with free coffee from Form & Function and baked good from Gaston's Bakery and Acme Bakeshop for the first 250 customers, plus plenty of kids' activities and free seed handouts just in time for spring. New vendors for the year include Seeds, Roots & Shoots, which offers ready-to-make bean- and lentil-based dinners packaged in reusable jars, and The Kula Connection, a brand new company that pedals plant-based alternatives to dairy products.

"We want to be on the ground talking to people," Kula Connection founder Michelle Russell said when asked why she'd decided to join the market. "I feel the best way to be impactful, to really help people change their health, is to talk to them, to be accessible, to answer questions [and] to represent the product myself."

  • Lex Nelson

Meanwhile, Capital City Public Market has its own big plans for the 2019 season, which opens April 13 and will mark its 25th year serving the City of Trees.

"We put out a call to recruit new vendors, which we haven't really done in the past," said CCPM Board President Matt Williams, whose family runs Waterwheel Gardens, a local farm that has been with CCPM since the beginning. "[CCPM marketing partner] Go Out Local made up a little video, interviewed some of our newer vendors and staff about their experience at the market, and we got a call put out. We had over 50 new vendors apply, and then we juried all of the new applications, and we have a waitlist of over 30 vendors now."

Among those vendors, who will rotate in throughout the season, are local dairy farm Feathers and Horns; Lily Pad Notes, which recycles books into notebooks, journals and more; the gluten-free donut shop Muscle Donut; Wheyland Farm, a vegetable producer out of Marsing; Vietnamese sandwich stall Abanhdance; the woodworkers from Arroyo Design House and more.

  • Courtesy Capital City Public Market

"We're going to be brand new, this will be our first time doing anything [event-wise]," said Abanhdance Founder Monica Williford. She plans to sell three different types of bahn mi sandwiches at CCPM, with options including lemongrass pork, Vietnamese barbeque chicken and a bacon- and tomato-topped BLT riff.

CCPM will also be the first real Boise outpost for Tennessee transplants Katie and Chris Johnston of Arroyo Design House, who make wooden chairs, lamps, tables, blanket racks and more out of their garage shop. Katie said that a visit to the thriving market was one of the things that convinced her relocating to Boise was the right move.

"Basically as soon as we got here we started working on our application," she said.

In addition to expanding its current list of vendors, CCPM will also widen its scope for customers in 2019 by offering outdoor mini markets at JUMP on First Thursdays from 5-9 p.m., April-October, and on 34th Street in Garden City between June and August on Wednesday evenings from 5-8 p.m.. Each spot will feature around 30 vendors.

"Our goal is to try to give people that are out on a First Thursday a small taste of what the Saturday market is about while also doing kind of a unique event," Williams said of the JUMP markets, which will transition into CCPM's usual First Thursday holiday markets in Grove Plaza at the end of the year. As for the Garden City mini market, Williams said it has been in the works for a while, but this will be the first year it's fully realized.

"We'll see on a weekday evening how many [people] can attend and how profitable that is for certain vendors, but we're going to make a go of that for sure this year," Williams said. "...There's a lot of potential there, and we're just going to see what we can do and do the best we can with it."

Check out these maps for the locations of both markets:

  • Courtesy Boise Farmers Market
  • Courtesy Capital City Public Market