The Lander Valley Farmers Market is looking for a “permanent home” after being “bounced around” to multiple locations for the past few seasons, organizers said this week.
Members of the farmers market board approached the Lander City Council during a work session Tuesday to talk about the idea, proposing that the event could take place every week near the gazebo on the north end of Lander City Park.
The farmers market currently pays $15 per week to use the “dirt lot” near the City Park baseball fields, board vice-chair Bailey Brennan said, and they use the nearby fire department training area when the baseball lot is occupied.
But sometimes, she said, neither space is available.
“There have been a handful of times where we had super late notice that we couldn’t occupy (either spot) because of other uses,” Brennan said. “(We) showed up and had to figure out an alternative where to go.
“It makes it really tough.”
Councilmember Julia Stuble called the situation “regrettable.”
“I can’t imagine showing up with a bunch of vendors (and) trying to find a new place to set up,” she said. “These (are) local and regional small businesses that are investing in our community and bringing revenue and circulating local cash around our community, and I don’t think we would treat other small businesses this way.”
Farmers market manager Helen Wilson said the event drew almost 15,400 customers and generated about $130,700 in total reported vendor income in 2021.
An average of 19 vendors participates in the market each week, and each vendor earns about $350 per event, she said, with the average customer spending about $10 each.
“This is a contribution to the economy,” Stuble said. “This is not a lemonade stand. (People) augment their livings with this market.”
‘Build a partnership’
After learning that they “didn’t have anywhere else to go” one Saturday this season, Brennan said the farmers market moved to the area near the City Park gazebo.
The spot ended up being “really amazing,” she said, with grass, shade, and a playground nearby.
The gazebo has electricity too, Brennan added, “so when we do have musicians there, they can hook up and we can have music,” and the parking accommodations in the area are “really great for vendors (and) customers.”
“It really actually felt like the right home for the market,” she said.
City staff said the gazebo itself is already available to rent and would cost $250 per week for an event the market’s size.
Stuble asked if the city could “look at adjusting that” rate to better accommodate the market, but Wilson pointed out that the market needs more than a gazebo – it also requires vendor space and parking spots.
Plus, Brennan said, the organization is looking for “more than the invitation to sign up” for a gazebo rental online.
“We provide a pretty valuable service for the community,” she said. “I’d like some official recognition from the city that this is our farmers market. …
“It would be great to find a way for us to build a partnership, rather than see the market as occupying some space in the park.”
For the rest of this season, Brennan said market organizers will continue setting up near the City Park baseball fields, but she – and several other council members – expressed a desire to continue the conversation about locations and fees in the future.
They also welcomed the involvement of other farmers market organizers in town.
For more information call the City of Lander at 332-2870.