For the last 21 years, the Spokane Farmers’ Market has brought produce straight from the farm to the people of Spokane.
Diane Reuter of Tolstoy Farms was one of five farmers that founded the market all those years ago, promising to deliver real, freshly grown produce. Today, she is one of the two farmers that still remain at the market from that orginal crop, but now she is the manager.
“We didn’t have a manager in the very beginning because we were very small,” Reuter said. “We were just five farmers who wanted to have a market.”
The founding of the market came from a need for a farmer-friendly and consistent market, according to Reuter.
“There used to be this place called the Spokane Public Market that kept moving around. Every year it was some place new and it really wasn’t farmer-friendly,” she said.
By “not farmer-friendly,” Reuter is referring to what are known in the farmers’ market community as “high stallers.” she said, high stallers are vendors who are allowed to come into markets and sell wholesale goods alongside farmers who actually produced the goods they were selling.
“They are people that go to produce warehouses, buy produce and then resell it,” Reuter said.
Competing with high stallers led to a necessity for a real farmers’ market, she said. With this in mind, the five farmers began the market in the parking lot of First Covenant Church on Division Street. From there, the market began to grow. With this growth, came the need for more direction.
“We decided we needed a market manager, and they decided I should be it,” Reuter said.
She is now in charge of market operations while it runs from May to October in its newer location at 20 W. 5th Ave. between Division Street and Browne Street.
According to Reuter, the market can be seen teeming with people, especially on sunny Saturday mornings during the summer.
“There are also a lot of regulars,” Reuter said. “There is one guy who comes to every market. Today he came in and asked when the last day was and I told him Oct. 30th. He said, ‘Good! Then I won’t be wiping out my bank account every week!’”
It would not be difficult to spend a lot of money at the market because of the abundance of vendors and the variety of products. The products themselves remain relatively affordable. Reuter’s favorite vendor is Cliffside Orchards, she describes the fruit as the best she’s ever had.
Many of the vendors have been selling with the market for many years. Vendor James Rowley attributed this to the importance of consistency. According to Rowley, the best way to sell is to show up often and create a connection with the clientele.
Rowley is of Spring Water Farms and sells a variety of beef, pork, poultry and eggs.
His favorite vendor, which was met with resounding agreement from other vendors, is not surprising.
“I love the baked goods,” Rowley said.
Vendors and customers agree that David Ainley, the owner and operator of The Scone Ranger, has the best baked goods to offer.
Ainley is a disabled veteran who was unable to utilize his degree in engineering after a head trauma. He returned to school for accounting but decided to utilize his talents in a new way.
“There were a lot of accountants out of work, so I decided to do something that we needed in Spokane, and that was scones that weren’t dry and crumbly,” Ainley said.
The Scone Ranger sells both regular and vegan scones and can be found not only at the Spokane Farmers’ Market every Wednesday and Saturday, but also at several markets around the area and about 20 different local coffee shops.
The Spokane Farmers’ Market comes together every Wednesday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. because of the farmers’ and vendors’ passions for delivering farm fresh produce to the people of Spokane.