History of the Market

Moscow Farmers Market’s Inaugural Year – 1976

The Market began as a Moscow Food Co-op venture in 1976. The Market began with a few farmers and was located in the parking lot behind the current City Hall building. Coop volunteer Dorothy MacEachern was the initial organizer of the Market in 1976. She and other volunteers recruited the first season’s vendors. In 1977, Moscow Citizen Linda Pall joined the City Council and helped transition management of the Market to the Moscow Arts Commission in 1978.

Entertainment at the Market – 1978

Music is a wonderful component of the Market that the citizens of Moscow love and enjoy. The Market has provided live entertainment since 1978. For the past 20 years the Market has compensated musicians based on the size of the group. Solo musicians are paid $50 while larger groups or bands are paid as much as $150. Additionally, the Market contracts on a non-paid basis with local musicians and performers who are allowed to play for tips.

Farmers Market Advisory Board – 1978

Beginning in 1978, the Market was overseen by the City Council, with the coordination of the Market designated to the Moscow Arts Commission (MAC). Shortly thereafter a vendor elected and driven group was organized by Market vendors to provide input into general policy oversight which became the Farmers Market Advisory Board (FMAB). This group was a champion for the Market and helped to establish foundational policies, procedures, and practices that still inform decision making today.

The Market Moves Downtown – 1980

With the development of Friendship Square in 1980 the Market found a new home in the Jackson Street Parking Lot.

Market Manager Hired – 2004

In 2004, the City of Moscow authorized hiring a part-time Market Manager to assist the Moscow Arts Commission and Arts Department in running the annual event. Since that time several individuals have contributed in that role that has become a key position for maintenance and organization of the event.

Information Tent Established at the Market – 2007

The City of Moscow Information tent was established in 2007 and offers a number of services at the Market. It is a place where patrons can obtain information about the Market, locate their favorite vendors, find directions to the closest bathroom or ATM, pickup information, find recipe cards, sign up for the Market newsletter, turn in and pick-up lost and found items, and receive first aid. 

The tent offers table space for the Shop the Market program. With Shop the Market, area families can use EBT or SNAP benefits to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, bread, meat, eggs, honey, plant starts, and other food items from Market vendors. By visiting the City Tent patrons receive "Market Money" which vendors will accept for approved purchases. The tent offers a place for vendors to pay fees, receive stamps on their WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and SFMNP (Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program) checks, and receive reimbursement for Market money. The tent is a place where staff can congregate while between tasks, interact with the public, and provide information on that Market day’s events.

Policies Introduced to the Market – 2008

Since the first drafted Market policies in 2008, market policies have been a key topic of discussion for the Market. As the organization has evolved over time from the Farmers Market Advisory Board to the Moscow Farmers Market Commission in 2013 so have policies. In part, the purpose of the Commission is to review Market policies, keep abreast of trends and opportunities for advancing Market interests, products, standards, and offerings. In keeping with the mission and values of the Market the policies are drafted from input sent to the City Council, recommendations by the Moscow Famers Market Commission and from public and City staff input. The draft recommendations are then accepted (or adjusted) and approved by the City Council. In 2011, the Market policies included Market location and schedule, as well as food labeling requirements and expectations for vendor conduct. The 2016 Market policies have grown to include various other guidelines and regulations. Due to the growth and development of the Market, these policies are updated annually to meet the values of the Market while ensuring success and compliance with national, state, and local level regulations.

Shop the Market – 2008

Shop the Market began as a pilot program designed to expand local consumer choices for low-income families across the Palouse. Starting in September 2008 and continuing today, the City has partnered with Backyard Harvest to support families in the region allowing them to use their food stamp benefits at the Market. The program provides access to nutritionally sound locally grown food sources for local residents and provides a sense of belonging and an inclusive atmosphere for a group that otherwise may be overlooked at the Farmers Market. 

The Market was the first in Idaho to establish a food stamp benefits program and has assisted many other markets in establishing similar programs.

Food Jury/Craft Jury – 2008

Beginning in 2008, a jury process was developed to evaluate all new craft and food applicants interested in becoming Market vendors. This process has grown and become more formal since it began in 2008. 

The jury process allows for vetting of vendors and guarantees that each vendor will meet the policy requirements and standards necessary for their product type, while also ensuring high quality items that are compatible with the Market.

Farmers Market Promotion Program FMPP – 2010

The purpose of the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) is to increase domestic consumption of, and access to, locally and regionally produced agricultural products, and to develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local markets by developing, improving, expanding, and providing outreach, training, and technical assistance to, or assisting in the development, improvement, and expansion of, domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agritourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. 

A USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grant received in 2010 enabled the Market to provide vendor training, establish Market cooking classes, conduct a Rapid Market Assessment and purchase supplies. 

The grant provided for collaborative and coordinated trainings to help vendors, all agencies involved, and City staff guarantee compliance. The trainings for vendors have been expanded over time with the increase in required permits, licenses and inspections. In order to accommodate compliance requirements, the Market staff have compiled contact lists for permits and licensing which includes 14 different agencies, while also providing vendor training on a regular basis. 

The grant allowed Market staff to hire University of Idaho dieticians to provide cooking classes at the Market. These classes promoted healthy dishes and featured vendor products that continue to this day. 

This grant also provided funding for the Market to purchase equipment including tables, chairs, tents and more, including the customer favorite red wagons. These wagons are beloved by Market patrons and provide easy transport of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other Market purchases.

Idaho Farmers Market Association – 2010

Established in 2010, IFMA was created to support and promote the sustainability of farmers markets in Idaho through education, outreach and advocacy to ensure healthy food access for all Idahoans. The Market was involved in the creation of the IFMA. City of Moscow staff served as the first chair of the IFMA board and in 2016- 2017 held the vice-chair position as well

Social Media – 2011

The Market joined Facebook on May 13, 2011. By the end of that season the page had 50 ‘fans’. Since this initial launch, the Market Facebook page has grown to 4,632 (as of November 28, 2016). The page is used to reach customers, vendors, and fans of the Market. The Market Twitter page was created in October 2012. This page has grown to 270 followers (as of November 28, 2016) and includes 1,266 tweets and growing. The Market has an online presence on a number of pages, including: Yelp; TripAdvisor; Foursquare; Local Harvest; Visit Idaho; Soil Mate; Idaho Preferred; and the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.

The Market moves to Main Street – 2012

Due to its overwhelming success, the Market more than doubled its available vendor space from 42 to 99 spaces, when it relocated from its original location within the Jackson Street parking lot to the entirety of Main Street between third and sixth, including Friendship Square. Market attendance has visibly increased since the move to Main Street. RMA3 data supports that increase with estimates of 3,324 visitors in 2003; 5,017 in 2009; and 5,329 in 2011, while the Market was in the Jackson Street Parking Lot. The SEED4 study completed in 2013 while the Market was on Main Street estimated 6,342 visitors at the time of study. Attendance is projected to continue growing in due to community popularity and vendor participation.

Manage My Market Software – 2012 

In 2012 the software Manage My Market was researched as a tool for processing vendor paperwork. In 2013 the program was used primarily to track season vendor applications and paperwork. Manage My Market was an improvement over using multiple excel spread sheets and other programs and allowed staff to track and process vendor paperwork in a single program. Beginning in 2014 the system was utilized Market wide and staff began tracking vendor payments in the program. In 2016 vendors began using Manage My Market to report their annual gross sales.

USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant – 2012 

The City of Moscow took on a comprehensive planning process for the Market with the assistance of a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant. The process for development of the plan included several public meetings, Market site visits, vendor meetings and public meetings. While the project did not result in an adopted strategic plan, the work conducted through the process recommended and resulted in the expansion of the Farmers Market Advisory Board into a full City Commission and provided for much needed data collection that was integral to future planning efforts, including this plan.

First Amendment Resolution Adopted – 2012 

When the Market moved to the Jackson Street Parking Lot in 1980, Friendship Square became a busy Saturday morning location. In 1980, many groups and individuals took advantage of the opportunity to reach out to community members with their information, ideas, petitions and messages by setting up tables along the South Wall of Friendship Square during Market time, establishing what was referred to by many as the “Non-Profit Wall.” This use continues to the present day.

An increased use of this public space resulted in multiple individuals and groups seeking to access the Market audience and participants by utilizing a portion of Friendship Square on Market days. In 2012, City Council recognized this constitutional practice of Free Speech by passing Resolution 2012-05 and 2012-12 in accordance with Market policies which limits free speech activities during the Market to this assigned space in Friendship Square. Other parts of Friendship Square are available for pedestrians, music and other arts performances, emergency access, playground uses and visiting in a multiple use accommodation that is consistent with the law, City goals and values.

Moscow Farmers Market Commission Established – 2013

The Moscow Farmers Market Commission was created March 18, 2013 with a charge to suggest ways to promote and improve the Market; propose and/or review Market policies; keep abreast of trends and opportunities for advancing Market interests, products, standards, and offerings; and to otherwise act in an advisory role to the Council. Membership for the Commission includes three Market vendors, a Chamber of Commerce representative, a representative from the University of Idaho Extension, and four atlarge community positions.

Site Visits – 2013 

The Commission and City staff began conducting site visits of produce and ag product vendors to learn more about their production practices, to improve communication, and to verify that products sold at market are accurately represented. The site visit process is outlined in Market policy to provide an opportunity to educate and address any concerns among market vendors, customers, and the community about the validity of the vendors’ product quality and production practices. During the site visits a review of what vendors are growing and producing is conducted and inquiries about production practices are made. Like the jury process for food and crafts, site visits are designed to ensure high quality items that are compatible with the Market.

Canning Grants – 2013 

In 2013 the Market was one of thirty markets throughout the United States to receive a grant from Jarden Home Brands to offer canning demonstrations. The Discover You Can Learn, Make, Share℠ program was designed to teach at-home canning and support awareness of the benefits of canning for healthy, sustainable living while bringing communities together to make and share farm fresh recipes. In 2013, the grant provided the Market with a $1,200 stipend for conducting demonstrations (raspberry jam; apricot jam; peaches; dilly beans/pickling; tomato sauce; and salsa); a variety of Jarden products to raffle; equipment; and promotional items. With the stipend a temporary University of Idaho dietetic student was hired to assist with the canning demonstrations. Also, the 16 | Page Market partnered with the University of Idaho Extension and various vendors to lead demonstrations.

In 2014, the Market was provided with a $1,200 stipend for conducting demonstrations; raffle items, additional equipment, and promotional materials. Market staff and vendors led a variety of demonstrations using Market products. In addition to the stipend offered by this grant, the Market was awarded an additional $550 in prize money from Jarden. 

In 2015, the Market was provided with a vacuum sealing system and tools; food saver bags; and banners. The Market featured demonstrations on marinating meat; food saved berries; food saved cheese; and salad in a jar. During the Market season a food sealing station was also made available for patrons to use and learn about vacuum sealing.

High Five Program – 2013 

The High Five Children’s Health Collaborative, powered by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health awarded $750,000 to four Idaho cities to combat childhood obesity in 2013. The Collaborative also awarded an additional $30,000 to three cities as part of an Ambassador Program, including the City of Moscow. 

Through this grant, the City implemented the High Five program to develop opportunities and incentives for youth to improve their healthy eating habits and physical activity behaviors. The program includes a passport system for free fruits and vegetables for walking/biking to the Market and free kids cooking classes and fruit and veggie tastings at the Market based on a fruit/vegetable calendar.

AmeriCorps – 2013 

Beginning in September 2013 the City of Moscow Arts Department began utilizing the services of an annual AmeriCorps service member. In 2013, the AmeriCorps member assisted as an integral part of Market operations and by planning and implementing Market Umbrella’s data collection programs, NEED, FEED and SEED. These studies assess the economic and social value of the Market and provided key data on the impact of the Market. In 2014, the AmeriCorps member presented to various groups and organizations information about the Market; planned and helped develop the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program, and assisted at the Market. In 2015, the position was designated the AmeriCorps volunteer coordinator for the Market and helped generate a volunteer base for the Market; organized the Love Your Farmer, Love Your Food program; developed a Chefs at the Market program; and was an integral part of the running and operations of the Market. In 2016, the AmeriCorps member will continue planning and development of Market events, management of the High Five Passport Program, and continued work on volunteer coordination.

Highway Banners Installed – 2014 

A partnership with the Idaho Transportation Department allowed the installation of three over the street Market banners on Highway 95 north and south as well as Highway 8 to the west. The banners help to direct visitors to the community to the Market in its current location on Main Street.

Beer and Wine Sales – 2014 

In 2014, the Commission recommended to the Council a proposal for craft beer and wine at the Market. With the Palouse and LCSC Valley rich in local craft wineries and breweries, the Commission viewed such a proposal as a great opportunity to enhance the local branding of Moscow. The City of Moscow unanimously passed Resolution 2014-18 allowing for the sale and sampling of beer and wine at the Market. With three Saturday Markets left in the year, local brewers and vintners took advantage of the opportunity to showcase their product at the Market.

Number One Farmers Market – 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017

In 2014, the Market was ranked 42 out of 100 most celebrated Farmers Markets in the nation through surveys conducted by American Farmland Trust, a national nonprofit dedicated to saving farmland for the next generation. 

In 2015 and 2016, the Market was rated the number one farmers market in the State of Idaho and one of the top 20 farmers markets in the nation by American Farmland Trust

These celebrations encourage market customers, family farmers, and community members – anyone who believed they had the best farmers market in the country – to endorse their market in four unique areas: Focus on Farmers, Healthy Food for All, Pillar of the Community, and Champion for the Environment. 

In 2016, the Market rankings are:

  • People’s Choice: 1st in Idaho and 15th Nationwide
  • Focus on Farmers: 1st in Idaho and 16th Nationwide
  • Healthy Food for All: 1st in Idaho and 16th Nationwide
  • Pillar of the Community: 1st in Idaho and 14th Nationwide
  • Champion for the Environment: 1st in Idaho and 16th Nationwide

City of Moscow Adopts Strategic Plan – 2015 

The City of Moscow continually works to improve service to citizens and in 2015 revised its approach to managing the community challenges faced by local government through a comprehensive strategic planning process. 

As the City began developing the FY2016 budget, the organization undertook the very important process of identifying the major challenges the City faces. These major challenge areas more directly illuminate the underlying issues the City is always conscious of and works to mitigate. Issues include topics such as streets, public safety, infrastructure, recreation, customer service and more. Of course, they also address internal services and how the City can improve its basic operation as it provides a broad range of services while planning for a challenging future. 

Included in that process, as a City service, the Market was recognized as facing challenges in the coming years. Given the importance of the Market’s inclusion in that planning process, the Commission and staff recognized the importance of conducting and crafting a strategic plan specific to the Market.

Washington State WIC and SFMNP Benefits – 2016 

The Market began accepting Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Senior Farmer Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) benefits from Washington State on July 11, 2016. The WIC program provides benefits to lower income families and the SFMNP provides benefits to lower income adults over 60.

Select 25 – 2016 

The Select 25 program supports those who promote health and wellness; assist individuals with special needs; create safe environments; and build strong communities. Each year, they award $2,500 to 25 winners throughout Idaho. The donations are to be used to help individuals and organizations make a healthy difference in Idaho communities. The City of Moscow was selected as an award winner in 2016 for their work involving the High Five program.

Community Branding Study Recognizes Market Importance – 2016 

The City of Moscow in partnership with the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and the University of Idaho conducted an in-depth branding research and development project that was completed in 2016. Research was focused on determining the specifics that make Moscow, Idaho the unique community it is. Of the common themes revealed, the Market ranked in the top twenty topics that were most frequently mentioned in surveys and during stakeholder interviews. The mentions spoke to the important contribution the Market makes to Moscow’s community and culture.

Moscow Farmers Market Economic Impact Study – 2016 

In April of 2015, the City of Moscow undertook development of an economic impact study of the Market. The City partnered with Steve Peterson, University of Idaho, Department of Business and Academic Faculty to conduct the study. The study is designed to determine the economic impact the Market contributes to our local economy on an annual basis. The study is completed and is available on the City’s website as of October 13, 2016. 

The study concluded that the Market contributes significantly to the local and regional community through development of new businesses, as well as, the draw and positive impact it has on local tourism. Findings from the study also include confirmation of the recent Community University Strategic Partnership’s community branding project that identifies the Market, among several other unique Moscow features as highly important to the community in a social sense.

Downtown Restrooms Approved – 2016 

After several years of discussions and attempts to plan and construct a downtown restroom facility, in 2016 a facility design was approved and construction began. Construction began in November of 2016 in the Jackson Street Parking Lot. The facility will serve not only the Market, but other downtown events and visitors as well.

Market Celebrates 40 Years – 2017 

With the completion and adoption of this document in January of 2017, plans are already underway to celebrate the 40th year of the Moscow Farmers Market. The Moscow Farmers Market Commission and the City of Moscow look forward to celebrating the Market, its traditions and its importance to our community throughout the 2017 season.

Desired Legacies for the Market 

Moscow is a community rich in history and proud of its rural heritage and affiliation with Idaho’s only land-grant university. The City’s vision reflects its history and its deep commitment to the preservation of those attributes that make it a successful place to live and work. The Commission and staff have taken time to consider this dedication and agree upon a collective vision for Moscow and the role of the Market in the Moscow community. That vision is characterized for enhanced access, bolstering economic opportunity, building community, and increased information for the Market and its patrons. The mission and values are vital to that vision and will remain essential guideposts for future planning. 

Mission 

To celebrate life on the Palouse by providing the community with the opportunity to buy and sell locally farmed and/or created produce (e.g. crops, meat, cheese, wine, etc.) and distinctive handmade goods. This venue is meant to encourage and support sustainable economic, social and environmental practices.

Values 

Access 

Providing access to locally grown produce, foods, unique hand-made goods and their producers. 

Economic Opportunity 

Contributing to the greater Moscow economy with emphasis on assisting local, small, independently owned, and start-up enterprises. 

Community 

Building community by welcoming all residents and visitors, and providing a safe space and opportunity for community engagement, interaction, entertainment, and cultural enrichment. 

Information 

Increasing awareness of and providing education about and in support of health and wellness practices, regional agriculture, sustainability, and sound environmental practices