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Idaho’s biggest ‘foodie’ market thriving in Boise

By Sean Ellis

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation

BOISE – Idaho’s biggest “foodie” market is alive and well, 10 seasons after its vendors split from Idaho’s largest farmers market and formed their own, food-centric market.

A decade ago, a few dozen farm and ranch vendors split from Capital City Public Market and formed their own market, known as the Boise Farmers Market.

The CCPM is by far Idaho’s largest market in terms of foot traffic, attracting up to 15,000 people to downtown Boise each Saturday, so the split was a huge risk.

BFM vendors say that risk has turned into a big reward and now both markets are flourishing.

The Capital City Public Market includes a mix of artisans and farm booths, while the Boise Farmers Market is known as the foodie market and includes mostly farm vendors.

Both markets have their own niche and both are doing well, said Soraya Mazloomi, president of the BFM board of directors and a vendor at the market

“We are doing really well,” she said. “Every year that our market has been in business, I think everybody who has been here for awhile can report at least a 10 to 20 percent increase in sales year over year.”

The CCPM is located in downtown Boise, while the BFM is located a few miles away in a large parking lot between Americana Boulevard, River Street and Shoreline Drive.

The BFM has 90 vendors and 60 percent are farmers and ranchers. Any vendor selling prepared food there has to use local ingredients and even artisans have to have a food-related theme in their products.

When people come to the Boise Farmers Market, they come specifically to buy food, said vendor Janie Burns, a member of the BFM board.

“Our market is a food source as opposed to a more recreational event like some farmers markets are, which is OK; there is room for that,” Burns said. “But we are essentially a food and local food farmers market.”

The market has gained a reputation as the main foodie market, Mazloomi said.

“People come here to buy food,” she said. “The Boise Farmers market has specifically branded itself as a farmers market.”

The market’s customers are local-food focused and they go there to shop and not just browse, said BFM Executive Director Tamara Cameron.

“We’re an ag-focused market,” she said. “We really exist to serve the farmers and customers who are focused on local food.”

At the same time, there are still farm vendors at the Capital City Public Market and some vendors have booths at both markets, Cameron said.

She said if people come to the BFM looking for arts and crafts, market employees will direct them to the CCPM.

“There’s obviously room for both markets in the city,” she said. “The Capital City Public Market does a great job, too.”