Public meeting to discuss future of Moscow Farmers Market

MOSCOW, ID - The Moscow Farmers Market is closed for the year, but it's still the talk of the town.

Monday night, vendors, customers, and even University of Idaho students attended a public meeting about the future of the 35-year-old market.

"We've never done any official planning for the market," said Assistant City Supervisor Jen Pfiffner. "And so, as we look at kind of the next five years and the changes that may or may not happen, we'd like to be in control of some of the changes, the vendors, the customers, we want them to be able to have a say in how this market will grow up."

The city received a grant from the USDA to develop a five-year strategic plan, and they brought in an experienced consultant from the east coast to help.

"We're starting out with something that is simply incredible," said Public Market Development Principal Aaron Zaretsky.

Everyone agrees that the market is already amazing. But some of the locals were reluctant to accept the ideas of an outsider who has worked on much larger markets, such as Seattle's Pike Place.

"I like the market the way it is," said Palouse Peace Coalition member Miriam Kent . "I think if it's not broken, why fix it? I don't know why we're looking at bigger."

However, the goal is not to fix the market. It's to adapt it to the needs of the people affected by it. One of the considerations is the market's affects on Main Street businesses, and whether or not it should expand north of Third Street.

"It should be a natural synergy between what's happening in the market and the businesses that surround the market," said Zaretsky.

The vendor ratio is another issue of concern. There are more than a hundred craft vendors waiting to get a spot in the market, but it's much more difficult to attract actual farmers. Infrastructure and shade for produce vendors is yet another concern.

Now that the first meeting is over, the city will distribute surveys and another public meeting is scheduled for January. If all goes well, a strategic 5-year plan will be approved by March of 2013.