WALLOWA — Do you need fresh carrots? A handmade table runner? Special gift for a special someone? Out of honey? Coffee?
Then the Lower Valley Farmers Market is the place to go. With its Olaf Pottery, artwork by Gene Hayes, fresh produce and locally made artisan items, the market has a little of everything. There is also a resale shop located directly next door, with signs on the wall that seem to sum up its theme: Reuse. Repurpose. Restore.
The market, 110 E. First St., is open every Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. And for the savvy resale shopper, the shop next door sells everything from clothing to books to household items at reasonable prices.
Deborrah Reth, who started this venture along with a few other people, said the market started out as an outdoor venue but moved into the old telephone building in Wallowa in the winter of 2012 to become an indoor market. She said it was “pretty rough” because the telephone building was hard to heat. She eventually deeded the building to another business owner, and bought the market’s current location. She said almost everything in the market is utilitarian.
The market also carries a wide variety of vegetables and flower seeds for sale. Fresh produce includes potatoes, apples, carrots, onions and more.
The market is entirely run by volunteers. Reth admits, though, it is time for others to step forward to run the market.
“It’s time for a new group — new management,” she said.
There are grants that could be written, for example, if the market had its 501c3 status (for non-profits) — something that is time consuming to achieve.
“And especially with what’s going on in Wallowa — we can’t lose this,” she said.
Peggy Goebel, a volunteer, has been with the market, Reth said, “from the very first get go.” She and Goebel each have large greenhouses and are affectionately known as “the two salad sisters.”
“The market serves a mission — a very important mission. It’s getting money into the community,” Reth said. “(We) try to keep produce prices as low as possible. It’s not a money-making project — the mission is to get people fed and farmers paid.”
Vendors selling produce and items at the market are charged a 5% commission, with the money going back into the running of the market. Vendors were not charged a commission during the COVID pandemic, she said. At that time, “we all needed to be a little kinder to one another,” she said.
If there is one thing Reth wants people to know about the market, it’s how important it is to the community.
“To know how paramount it is to shop locally — seek out food grown and raised locally. Support the farmers so they flourish,” she said.