The Chewelah Valley Fresh Market, LLC opened its virtual doors to its online farmers market this past week at www. cvfreshmarket.com. The addition of an online venue for local farmers and food producers to connect with consumers adds one more component to a growing local food system in Stevens County. The demand for locally grown and produced food continues to grow, last year the USDA reported that the number of registered farmers markets in the country grew to 7175, an increase of over 17% from the previous year. This is good news for both farmers and their customers, as consumers are showing an increased awareness about where their food comes from and how it was produced.
Utilizing a software platform licensed and developed by Local Food Marketplace, LLC, Chewelah Farmers Market founding volunteer Shelly Stevens has spent the last several months developing the Chewelah Valley Fresh Market, LLC website. The website allows farmers to go online and enter their available product weekly. Customers can shop during the week, and then the farmer is notified of what he needs to harvest. The farmer then delivers what has been ordered to the American Legion Hall in Chewelah on Tuesday mornings. Customer orders are assembled and are ready for pick up later that same day. “It is such a great model”, says Stevens “shopping directly from our farmers keeps the dollars circulating in our own community”. According to Stevens, feedback from local farmers has been very positive, this method allows them to harvest only what has been ordered so that there is no waste, and they don’t have to operate a booth all day, like at a traditional farmers market. “This is not meant to replace a regular farmers market,” comments Stevens “this just adds an additional way for the farmer to market their product and for the customer to access it”.
Stevens has partnered with the American Legion Post 54 in Chewelah to help them promote the availability of their fully health department-approved commercial kitchen. The kitchen can be rented by the hour to produce food items that are able to be sold to the public. “I can also see a few people getting together to rent the kitchen and knock out all of their canning in one afternoon” says Stevens. The kitchen can be rented for $15.00 an hour. Stevens sees the access to commercial kitchens as a key part of the local food system, “This really opens up the opportunities for entrepreneurship in our community”.
People interested in learning more about the Chewelah Valley Fresh Market, LLC, or who would like more information about the commercial kitchen at the American Legion Post 54 can visit www.cvfreshmarket.com.