Slow Economy Means Boom For Farmers Markets

SPOKANE — As the economy hits consumers across the board we find ourselves paying higher prices at the grocery store.  But some shoppers are leaving the supermarket for another kind of market.

Supporting local farmers has always been a benefit at shopping at farmers markets, but with the rising price of food in your local grocery store and the rising price of gas at your local gas station shopping local has new meaning.

On Saturday mornings at the Spokane Farmers Market, and one can get squash, carrots and beets, all grown and bagged by your local farmer.

“It’s nice to keep it in the neighborhood,” says Diane Reuter.

“They get up early in the morning and pick the stuff the day you buy it,” says Lori Gilbert.

But is the rising price of gas threatening a weekend tradition.

“Here and back, 100, 120 bucks,” David Taber says.

Taber, owner of Taber’s Taste of Summer, travels all the way from Okanogan County each weekend.  But he has more than just the Spokane Farmers Market on his to do list.

“If I didn’t have other deliveries, I probably wouldn’t come,” he says.  “The market is good and fun, but gas is definitely a deterrent.”

Farmers at the market this year say, like everyone else, gas is costing them more money.  But the Farmers Market is not seeing less farmers apply for space.

“Gas prices are higher, but I come here because I can sell a lot of stuff,” says Timothy Pellow of Tolstoy Farms.  “It’s a good market.”

The high price of food at grocery stores is forcing people outside, making for one of the busiest years the Spokane Farmers Market has had since it opened.

“People are starting to learn a little more about how far food travels a lot and why the cost of food can be so expensive,” Reuter says.

Farmers like Pellow say the extra money it’s costing him to get to the market is worth it, thanks to more shoppers looking to buy local.

“The prices of produce from Mexico, California or China is gonna keep going higher and higher as the gas prices do,” Pellow says, “so it’s going to be more of a bargain to shop from local farmers.”