The Idaho Center for Sustainable Agriculture (ICSA) is a 501(c)(3) organization formed to promote local and sustainable food communities through research, collaboration with farmers, and the expansion of local food distribution.
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Homedale Farmers’ Market

Homedale FM LogoThe summer growing season of 2015 marks the third year that the Homedale Farmers’ Market will be running. Homedale, Idaho is a small city, so this is a great accomplishment for them, and after talking to the many individuals that grow food in their own front yards, it’s no wonder the Farmers’ Market has burst onto the scene.

The Market, which is managed by a beautiful and kind lady named Denise Dixon along with her partners Kirsten Mast and Jennifer Adkins, is focused on gaining its non-profit status this year. While many farmer’s markets are created to just provide a platform for selling locally produced food, the Homedale Farmers’ Market has created a lovely addition to their framework which is that they donate money back into the community. Applications are available each year to be chosen as the donor recipient(s), and in the past the local schools have benefited most. One year the high school band was awarded money for their band uniforms, and the schools have also been awarded money to buy more books for the libraries. Additionally, donations have been made to the senior center as well, which will occur annually when the market features its winter showcase.

Considering the fact that the Farmers’ Market is more about creating and sustaining a sense of community it’s no wonder that the market has become home for crafters as well. For one couple, the Farmers’ Market has changed their life. The couple is older, and both are disabled. At one point in time they’d almost never leave their house, but since the Farmers’ Market started selling their needlepoint crafts, the couple has been able to supplement their income, find a sense of community again, and feel accomplished in their hometown of Homedale. In fact, this couple has become the poster couple for what Dixon is hoping to accomplish.

As a newer market with a mission to serve others, the Homedale Farmers’ Market is in need of help. Over the past two years the market has been on a Saturday, and while it has grown there have also been some losses of vendors and buyers simply due to the weekend competition. There are other, larger and more established Farmer’s Markets nearby, and Homedale has had to compete with them and with the other outdoor activities that many community members have opted for. Now, in order to invite vendors and buyers to frequent the market in mass, the market has moved to operating on Thursdays from 3:30-7:30. It will be held at the city’s park and run from June 18 through September 24.

The cost to be a vendor is $60 for the summer, and Dixon admits that the cost is higher than the usual fees; however, the funds are being routed toward the betterment of the community. An additional 5% of each weekly sale will also benefit the soon-to-be non-profit that has become the hallmark of the Homedale Farmers’ Market.

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Over time the market hopes to be able to buy a larger banner to display at the entrance of the city as well as to start a Sprouts Program. This program will teach children about growing their own food. While this program has been tried in the past with little success, the growing interest in the market, particularly due to the change in days, will likely spark a new success thus enhancing the community feel that Dixon is hoping for when it comes to the market.

Since the last season, the Farmers’ Market has become able to accept EBT cards, and there’s a new emphasis on the Idaho Preferred program which is a program through the USDA that promotes food grown in Idaho. Over time, the market plans to take on more vendors and more projects, and when talking to Dixon you can just tell that she’s very excited for what the future holds.

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