With plans for a bigger venue and increased participation from farmers and other vendors, the Gillette Farmers Market is poised to become an even more vibrant part of the community. The market, which operates on Saturdays from early August through the first frost, is a great way for residents to connect with farmers in Gillette and the surrounding areas.
Everything from locally grown vegetables and poultry products to grass-fed beef is available, and the growing national trend of buying local produce and products has led to a search for new digs, says Lori Bates, horticulture program coordinator for the Campbell County Cooperative Extension Office. “Our master gardeners are in the process of growing the market, so we are looking at several new sites in and around Gillette that would offer more space and also keep a park-like setting,” Bates says. “We have a lot of plans and a lot of ideas to make sure that we have a bigger, better market for 2010 and beyond.”
The market’s current downtown location had room for only a dozen or so vendors; as the market’s popularity has grown, so has the number of farmers and ranchers looking to take part. This growth, along with the rise of the extension’s master-gardener program, means a few changes, but also good things for the market going forward. “Our master gardeners go through a program of the University of Wyoming that’s done at the extension office,” Bates says. “They have a 40-hour course, and then they do 40 hours of volunteer work.
Their main purpose is to help educate the public on horticultural products, to provide a proper education on the foods that are grown in the area.” Couple that with ongoing promotional efforts from the Wyoming Farmers Marketing Association, of which the Gillette operation has been a member for the last decade, and it’s easy to see how the market is expanding in size and scope. “In the past we have had farmers with vegetables, fresh eggs, beef, even some craft items,” Bates says. “We want it to be all local sellers, but we get some in from the surrounding counties as well.
One of the changes the master gardeners are working on is defining our market and the growing area that it will cover, so people will know exactly where everything is coming from.” Even when it was just starting out, the market was a popular feature in downtown Gillette. With a new location and stronger grower participation, Bates predicts a very bright future for local foodies. “During the season we have all kinds of things there,” she says. “People really like it, and with more room and some other improvements it will continue to be very popular.”