MOSCOW — With food safety concerns in the news and grocery stores stocked with items from distant locales, connections between local farmers and shoppers are growing. The Palouse Grown Market is the latest reflection of that trend.Farmers and artisans list their available products at the online-based market. Customers place their orders. Once a week farmers drop off their goods, and then customers arrive in Moscow to pay and retrieve their items.
Founder Kim Sutherland describes it as a “drive by” community-supported agriculture. Since she and her family started the Palouse Grown Market in June it has grown to 10 farms and 110 customers.
The market runs year-round. While the growing season may be over, there is still food to be had. On a mid-October pick-up day at Lena Whitmore Park off of South Cleveland Street ,there were burlap bags of storage potatoes, onions, beets, carrots and squash, along with fresh eggs and a variety of meat, including lamb, beef, pork and goat.
Leah Sempel, of Pokey Creek Farm in Santa, Idaho, was one of the farmers delivering produce. The market is helpful for customers who want to buy large quantities of food, Sempel said.
Space at home doesn’t have to be a concern. Foods like onions and potatoes will keep outside wrapped in a burlap sack or blanket until the temperature hits the 20s or teens, she said. After that, you put them in the coldest part of your house.
Customers of the market pay a one-time $15 registration fee. There is no cost to farmers.
Sutherland said the market was designed with farmers in mind.
“I feel they need to be honored, not slapped with a fee here or there. They’re hardly making anything anyway,” said Sutherland, who has a degree in health education and an interest in preventative health care.
Farmers set the prices for their items. Sutherland and her family help organize the transfer of goods. Sutherland said they started the market because they believe the surrounding area has great potential for growing food and there is room for more local food.
“I don’t believe this is going to hurt in any way the (Moscow) Farmers Market or the (Moscow Food) Co-op. It’s an extra opportunity for growers to grow and sell items year-round,” she said.
Jen Elliott of Palouse Prairie Farms in Troy was delivering meat to the market.
“It helps me have another layer of selling to people without having to sit at a booth,” said Elliott, whose farm also sells directly to customers.
Sutherland said most of the market’s customers live in Moscow or Pullman or commute there for work so it is easy for them to pick up their weekly order. Not all customers order every week.
Colette DePhelps, of Moscow, arrived to pick up her order. It was her second time using the market. She tries to buy local food, and it was more convenient to pick up a bag of potatoes here than to haul large amounts home from the farmers market, she said.
“I think I’ll use it if they have food throughout the year,” she said.