There is another Farmer’s Market in Wallowa County. Tucked away in Wallowa’s Telephone Building you’ll find fresh, locally grown produce and a treasure-trove of local foods, art, and beautiful, handcrafted items from local artisans. Run by a core group of eight dedicated volunteers, the Lower Valley Farmer’s Market is open on Friday, noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Deb Reth started the Lower Valley Farmer’s Market as a traditional outdoor market, replete with kiosks and canopies, about six years ago. “I remembered that there was a food co-op in Enterprise back in the 1970’s,” Reth said. “That seemed to be a good thing for the community. Then I read a book called ‘The Town that Food Saved’. It really brought home what keeping money and food in the local economy can do.”
In 2012, Reth started an open-air Farmer’s Market in Wallowa. The setting up and taking down was a lot of work in addition to the tasks of harvesting and packaging food. So when the Telephone Building came up for sale, Reth bought it, with an eye to it becoming a more permanent venue for a marketplace for local products. The new indoor market opened in 2014.
“Right now, the market keeps egg money in people’s pockets here,” Reth said. There’s a lot of economic power and good in keeping dollars local. If the local grocery store goes away because I saved ten cents when I bought a half-gallon of milk, there are local jobs lost. We all shop for the best bargains. But when you think about it, the best bargain is a healthy, prosperous community.”
The Telephone Building store offers a wide variety of locally produced foods, clothing, gifts, and useful things. There’s local eggs from Neal Isley’s chickens, local grass-fed Angus beef from the Harshfield Ranch on Dougherty Loop, and if your timing is good, chicken from the Hawkins Ranch. As summer progresses there will be more local vegetables. Right now, you’ll find thick succulent asparagus grown in Milton Freewater, and a number of items grown locally in Wallowa County greenhouses.
“We could help support even more local farms,” Reth said. “I wish we could showcase even more local producers.”
Beyond the fresh foods, there are locally made jams and jellies, pickles, dried local fruit, and other goodies. You’ll find floral bouquets of local fresh-picked flowers. Looking for a special gift? There are Gene Hayes paintings, Debbie Lind cards, and very original postcards by Brian Wizard. Ralph Anderson’s Old Geezer woodcarvings, Peggy Goebel’s crocheted art, Lynn Price’s Sacred Salve Company Herbal Remedies—the list of fun and artful local wares goes on. There’s something for everyone and every need.
“This is such an inspiring place to work,” said volunteer Cathy Mullins. “There are so many amazing artists and gardeners in this community!”