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Exploring the Possibility of a Year-Round Farmers Market


We're in the sun-licked thick of farmers market season. Big leafy bundles of kale caress crooked deep-purple carrots and flower-like blossoms of butter leaf lettuce get cozy with delicate squash blossoms. But things aren't always so abundant and idyllic.

After the holiday market closes, late winter brings things to a grinding halt at the Capital City Public Market. But that might not always be the case. The City of Boise recently contracted with Market Ventures of Portland, Maine, to conduct a $24,500 study on the feasibility of opening a year-round, indoor farmers market. A representative will come to Boise in mid-September and evaluate various factors like supply and demand, functionality, space requirements and the feasibility of expanding the market season.

According to Karen Ellis, executive director of CCPM, expanding to a permanent year-round space is a longtime dream.

"This will not replace the outdoor market," said Ellis. "The indoor building would be something that could go on seven days a week, and it would have not only agriculture, but it would have other anchor tenants ... our design would be so that in the wintertime, there would be space for the market to go inside out of the weather."

Ellis' vision for the year-round market is modeled after the Ferry Plaza Market in San Francisco, and would potentially include a commercial kitchen, cold and dry storage for vendors and "entities that are like-minded and interested in supporting and growing the food system for our community."

Although Ellis mentioned the Boise Hole and the empty parking lot between the U.S. Bank Building and the Davinci Building as potential year-round market locations, she also stressed that this whole thing is a long way off--if it happens at all.

"I don't think it can be completed before five years," said Ellis. "A lot of it depends on the land that would be available or that we could possibly afford. It's going to take a lot of partnerships to pull it off and hopefully some philanthropic partnerships."

The City, which is funding the feasibility assessment, also stressed that these discussions are at a very preliminary stage.

"We know that the market is such a great asset to the city and wanted to really help them out in taking that step back and taking that good 30,000-foot view of the whole project," said Cece Gassner, Boise City assistant for economic development.