Farm Fresh 

Community is the kernel of Wood River farmers markets

The Wood River Sustainability Center keeps it fresh.

David Seelig

The Wood River Sustainability Center keeps it fresh.

Although Wood River Valley farmers markets take place on Tuesdays in Ketchum (East Avenue and Fourth Street) and Thursdays in Hailey (Main Street between Carbonate and Galena streets) from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., fresh Idaho produce is available every day somewhere in the Sun Valley area.

Because the growing season in the mountains is constrained by climate, in recent years, promoters of locavore living have developed strong ties to farmers in Southern Idaho communities from Picabo to Buhl.

"We kind of fill in the gaps," said Melinda Springs, who, with her husband Richard, runs the Wood River Sustainability Center. Springs has offered the center to Idaho's Bounty, a non-profit food distribution cooperative that works with some 60 farmers, for its online orders for Wednesday pickup.

Idaho's Bounty and the Sustainability Center's year-round indoor farmers market (308 S. River St., Hailey) work with many of the same farmers who create the profusion of fresh local veggies, herbs, trout and assorted goods, including fresh-baked breads, jewelry, photography, stained glass and clothing for the farmers markets. Fans and farmers post updates daily on Twitter and Facebook.

"Buying local products is not like buying processed packaged products," said Manon Gaudreau, a new U.S. resident from Quebec. She said she lets salad greens soak in water for an hour to restore crispness.

"I have a goal to eat 80 percent local. That means buying local and processing myself. It can be time consuming, but it is like a hobby--to preserve your food for a week, you have to plan a little."

Gaudreau said one interesting fact about the increasing popularity of the farmers markets is that Southern Idaho farmers can rely a little less on exports and consumers less on imports. Some claim Idaho farmers could feed the entire state, which means that by feasting locally, Idahoans are helping to reduce the part of their carbon footprint that goes to trucking food. The less farmers spend on fuel, the more they earn and the more ecologically sustainable their enterprise becomes, said Richard Springs.

That seems like reason enough to fill a market basket. Another is to soak in the festive atmosphere of the community wide food shopping spree.

"I think the farmers market is an amazing event that happens in our community," said Stephanie McCord, special events coordinator for the city of Ketchum. "It brings music, food, local artists and farmers from around the area together every week."

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