By Cameron Barnes
If you need to stock up on storage or canning veggies, now is your last chance to get the best goods for your Ball jars.
Marking the end of the Farmers’ Market season, this upcoming HarvestFest is sure to please, just as it has for the past 28 years. From 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, an excellent harvest comes home with dozens of vendors set to sell their goods. What’s more, several raffles will hook lucky winners up with gift baskets containing vendor goodies.
“I do think that our market is getting busier and busier, it was really well attended this year,” said Emily Levine of Red Wheelbarrow Produce. “I have seen it increase steadily for the last eight years that I have been involved.”
It doesn’t take much time talking with locals and vendors of the Farmers’ Market to conclude that they truly love the community institution.
If the sun is shining, all the better. But even when rain clouds gather, there’s no dampening attendee enthusiasm. All sorts of rain-stopping and blocking devices are on hand, and market fans are ready to stick it out no matter what.
During this week’s Farmers’ Market, market customer Belinda Nolte was especially enthusiastic.
“I just started coming to the Farmers Market in September, but wish I’d been coming all summer long,” she said. “For me it’s helping the local people and not only that, I’m getting great product. You can’t buy vegetables that taste this good in the store.”
For many, their livelihood depends on selling their goods, and for others, it’s what allows them to put delicious and affordable food on the table every night.
Brian Taylor, who runs the bed and breakfast at Talus Rock Retreat, has lived in Sandpoint for four years. He tries to make it to the Farmers’ Market as often as he can.
“For me, I garden myself, so I place a really high value on local food and the life that this market breathes into our community,” he said.
As the season wraps up, there’s an outstanding elephant in the room: the abortion abolitionists who focused their protests for roughly a full month on the market this year.
“It was a challenge, good and bad,” said Levine. “It made everybody think about peaceful solutions and showed that the city was behind us to help find solutions.”
Despite this unpredictable element, which threatened to seriously hurt seasonal sales across the board, many vendors still came out better than ever.
“During that time of the protesting, my sales went down, and that was unfortunate, since the rest of the time, my sales had increased over last year,” said Levine. “There were times that the protesting was so loud you could hardly do business, but the fact that my customers stood their ground, took it and shopped anyways was a beautiful thing.”
This year saw Patti Fulton take over as market manager. Regarding the protesters, Fulton said: “There was a lot of vocalization, not only in the paper but on site, and everyone got very excited about it … We were just steadfast that we were going to calmly turn this around with the community’s help and the forces that be.”
Reflecting on her first year, Fulton said, “It took a step forward in the vibration and quality of the market.” .
“The Farmers’ Market is very vital,” she added. “It’s like a heartbeat of Sandpoint, and it brings together a positive group. … We are real happy with how the season turned out.”
If you’re not able to make the HarvestFest, be sure to check out HolidayFest, which will be held Saturday, Nov. 12, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Forrest M. Bird Charter School. This event will be a nice and toasty indoor selection. On hand will be several popular vendors you’ve grown to love throughout the regular season.
Already looking to mark your calendar for the beginning of next year’s Farmers’ Market? You can count on a great upcoming season when the event returns to Farmin Park on the first Saturday of May 2017.
For more information, check out the Sandpoint Farmers’ Market Facebook page or wwwsandpointfarmersmarket.com