For 19 years, the Wallowa County Farmers’ Market has proudly served as a vibrant nexus in downtown Joseph – local producers and artisans sell their wares, musicians fill the air with sweet music, and locals and tourists alike flock to discover and celebrate Wallowa County’s bounty.
A complaint letter from a nearby household led the Joseph City Council to vote to relocate the market only two months before the market season is set to begin. Alongside many community members, we, the WCFM board members, were surprised, confused, and disappointed by the council’s decision, but we will not let our community down. On May 25, the 2019 market season will open at Stein Distillery, a few blocks north of our previous location.
The council voted we use the public parking lot on the Imnaha highway, a site lacking the visibility that Main St. offers in which the city would have to tow any vehicles that were left there the on the mornings of the markets. Additionally, the option of the city parking lot raised concern about public safety, specifically for families, elders and patrons with disabilities. Thus, the parking lot isn’t our best option and seems inconvenient and expensive for the City of Joseph.
We are very grateful for our new partnership with Stein Distillery where we will have ample space and access to utilities while maintaining the Main Street visibility that is so important to our vendors.
As WCFM board members, we volunteer our time for this non-profit organization because we believe the market provides numerous benefits for our community.
While the market’s essential function is to promote local, farm fresh products of Wallowa County and provide a community gathering place supportive of local entrepreneurs, it also supports the Joseph business district as a whole by attracting people to and retaining them within the downtown. The money people spend at downtown businesses and the market continues to circulate within the local economy.
The market also contributes to healthier lifestyles for our community members by increasing access to local produce, including opportunities to spend benefits from the SNAP, Double Up Food Bucks, WIC, and Veggie Rx programs. Finally, the market provides paid, daytime gigs for local musicians and a place for local non-profits to connect with community members and visitors through special events.
We are grateful for the outpouring of support we’ve received from our community following the council’s decision. Please continue to support the market by visiting early and often this season.
The market runs from Memorial Day through mid-October, every Saturday from 9 a.m. — 2 p.m. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you at our new location, 604 N. Main St., on May 25!
Wallowa County Farmers Market Board of Directors