Libby Chamber launching revamped farmers market

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  • Liz Whalen, the Farmers Market Committee leader, answers questions from vendors about the new market, Wednesday at a Libby Chamber of Commerce luncheon. (Luke Hollister/The Western News)

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    Liz Whalen, the Farmers Market Committee leader, talks about changes being made to the Libby farmers market, Wednesday at a Libby Chamber of Commerce luncheon. (Luke Hollister/The Western News)

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    Anna Henry (right) asks questions about the new farmers market, Wednesday at a Libby Chamber of Commerce luncheon. (Luke Hollister/The Western News)

  • Liz Whalen, the Farmers Market Committee leader, answers questions from vendors about the new market, Wednesday at a Libby Chamber of Commerce luncheon. (Luke Hollister/The Western News)

  • 1

    Liz Whalen, the Farmers Market Committee leader, talks about changes being made to the Libby farmers market, Wednesday at a Libby Chamber of Commerce luncheon. (Luke Hollister/The Western News)

  • 2

    Anna Henry (right) asks questions about the new farmers market, Wednesday at a Libby Chamber of Commerce luncheon. (Luke Hollister/The Western News)

The Libby Farmers Market Committee announced they will be restructuring the market for the coming season, Wednesday at a Libby Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Liz Whalen, the Farmers Market Committee leader, said she wants to expand the availability of good, affordable local food.

The market will give artists, local farmers and Libby-based businesses a place to grow, said Whalen.

The primary changes include a new market location, a different opening time and food assistance programs for eligible people.

The proposed location is next to Highway 2, Mohoney Road and across from the Libby Area Chamber of Commerce. The plan is to keep vendors cooler by being on grass, she said.

The location will also allow visitors to the market to make use of Fireman’s Park nearby, with restrooms, park and campground.

There will be larger signs by the highway to help attract more people who are just passing by Libby, she said. The market will be easily visible from the road.

“There is no better place in Libby,” she continued. “For there to not be a market at that place would be a shame.”

The new space is also large enough for vendors with trailers and gives the market room for future expansions, she said.

Hopefully the whole lot can be filled someday, Whalen said.

Food assistance options include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and the Women, Infant and Children program.

Shoppers using SNAP will be able to spend there tokens at the market and seniors can sign up for seniors nutrition program at the first market.

Cathy Spencer, a chamber volunteer, said the intention of having the seniors nutrition program option at the market is to help seniors eat healthy, fresh produce, who might otherwise not be able to afford it.

She encouraged people who are receiving assistance to take advantage of the farmers market.

The committee has been checking into whether they would also be eligible for double SNAP, a program which would give users $2 for every $1 they spend on fresh market produce, she said.

Bonnie Geber, a vendor and owner of Hoot Owl Farm, said she is excited about the new, diverse committee and appreciates the market’s time change. There are a lot of different people giving input, said Geber.

The fact that the market is taking advantage of a lot of programs out there is good, she said.

Whalen said the committee is also looking to hire volunteers to help with setup and to work in the visitor center. In the near future the committee will be hiring a seasonal part-time marketing position for the farmers market as well, she said.

Businesses wanting to be a vendor still have to follow state farmers market licensing guidelines, along with any city rules depending where they are based, Whalen said.

Though the chamber is still working out whether they will need a Libby business license just for the market separate from the chamber’s business license, vendors at the market will fall under the same business license as the market, she said.

Libby City Clerk and Treasurer Audray McCollum said that vendors will not need to seek a separate license from the city when they are covered by the business license under which the market operates.

On the vendor application, which can be found at the Libby chamber farmers market website, community members can sponsor specific vendors by donating money for the application fee.

Seasonal vending is a $60 fee and daily vending is $10. Nonprofits are allowed to have a free space as long as they do not sell anything at the market, she said.

“If you’re a musician and you just want to come out and jam, I’m not going to stop you,” said Whalen.

The committee will give the most promotion to seasonal venders that have committed to coming on Thursdays, she said.

The new market time will be from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and will start May 9.

More information on the market can be found at libbychamber.org.

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