• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Availability of markets for farm products in eastern Washington?

 
R Grandal
Posts: 3
1
bee chicken goat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wasn't exactly sure where to put this so I figured here was the best place? Please move it if someone feels it's more relevant in another category.

My SO and I currently live in Texas. We really loved Eastern Washington, at least the parts we saw (still haven't seen the West side). Our interests are to move back there and preferably buy a property with some land. Hoping at least 5 acres. We don't want to spend much over $130,000. Because of our price point, I know the West side is probably out of the question. I know we could find a lot more acres on the Eastern side. When we were living there we were over in the Okanogan Valley but far north near Canada. It was beautiful. We are more interested in being near Spokane seeing as that's the nearest large town. We figured we would be working in town to pay off the property in full.

The main thing I was wondering though is with the East side being the farming side... is there a decent market for selling things off a small property/homestead type place? Or are the markets heavily saturated? I know the West side (mainly the Seattle area) is where more people and larger incomes are and because of that there are a lot of markets. I just am worried that an area like Spokane near so many farming types means the market is hard. I understand that a part of it all is what you put into it and your ability to sell to customers, but I distinctly remember a lot of people even living right IN Spokane that hard large gardens, chickens, goats, even some cows! So it's just really had me wondering lately if it'd be reasonable to expect enough customers to make a decent income.

Thank you so much for your time and input!
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1175
Location: Pacific Northwest
125
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm on the west side, and don't know about the markets on the eastern side, but we bought 5 acres with a manufactured home 4 years ago in the Seattle area, for $200,000. Prices have gone up since then, though. But, there are areas (Olympic Peninsula, South Western Wa) where the prices are cheaper this side of the mountains.

But, based on what I was seeing four years ago, I would suggest looking not just at undeveloped land, but also property with manufactured homes on it. These properties, at least in the area I was looking 4 years ago, were often better properties (not steep hills or swampy wetlands) than the undeveloped land that was for sale for the same price. AND, it also often comes with septic, well/water, electricity, phone lines, and driveways, which saves you even more money.

Of course, property with a manufactured home does come with it's own fun, as you get to deal with all the mistakes the previous owner(s) have made. Make sure to check for oil/gas residue if the previous owner horded cars.  If the manufactured home is in disrepair, can always remove the manufactured home eventually and build your own, or fix it up.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 3915
Location: Missoula, MT
331
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There is a farmers market in Spokane, though I have not been to it. Paul's recollection when he used to live in that area is that it was rather weak, but maybe it's improved in recent years. A bit of online searching might turn up more markets and such.

Here are some suggestions in addition to Nicole's good ideas, that might apply to homestead income any where, really:

-direct sell to customers whenever possible (not farmers markets, not middleman-type things)
---restaurants are some times the best customers
---csa members (even if you start with just one or two members)
---pre-orders - listen to Primal Pasutres podcasts with Diego Footer of Permaculture Voices on how they pre-sold their very first set of meat chickens using Facebook
---buying clubs - connect with area homesteaders, farmers, homemakers, WAPF clubs, foodies, slow food groups, etc. who are looking for bulk buy, local food, beyond organic food to sell to
---serendipitous connections - when I was a receptionist at a clinic, one of our weekly patients brought in chicken and duck eggs that I bought from her each week - it was SO nice!
---honor system market stand

-diversify
---sell to restaurants and individuals
---offer veg, herbs, meat, eggs, flowers - or whatever combo you're ready for and suits your fancy (some folks wait to add in animal systems, never more than one animal system per year, so they do it right, which I think is wise)
---offer educational experiences at the homestead - classes, tours, interns/wwoofers, etc.
---offer eco-tourism at the homestead - pumpkin patch with a story and hot cider, a corn maze, etc., one farm I know sets up a trebuchet for pumpkins.
---other special features - yurt for rent, hunting acreage, lovely gazebo or barn for farm dinners or weddings, etc.
---value added items - jams, jellies, dried fruit or veg, kale chips, dried herbs, etc. (check cottage food industry regulations for the area)

All of this is super easy for me to say, and in practice, takes work, of course. Just hoping it's some food for thought.

In general, I think the market for good, healthy food is expanding everywhere, so while it might be saturated in some ways, in other ways, if you connect with folks, the sky's the limit. Again, Primal Pastures in California is a good example. They have grown leaps and bounds every year by leasing additional land and now they offer not only chicken, but beef and lamb, too. They're filling a much-sought-after niche in major farmland themselves.

Good luck!!


 
Caz Nicole
Posts: 3
Location: Inland Northwest/Eastern Washington
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I moved back to Spokane just over 2 years ago after living in larger cities. It had been 19 years since I'd lived here and much has changed, but much hasn't.

There are several farmers markets but they are all quite small, they are spread throughout the city on different days. I would say the "largest" is the South Perry District market which is on Thursday nights and has a good diversity of products. The newest one in Kendall Yards (new built neighborhood right on the river NW of DT) is also growing quickly. Those two neighborhoods offer something extra which is a walkable district with lots of shops and restaurants. Those two markets have also done a great job of offering other events and activities to keep people engaged.

I still see a lot of opportunity areas here. And the economy here is pretty good, we're getting new people moving in due to the new medical school. Spokane is coming into the times, people love craft beer, local veggies, etc, etc and I see a growing market for really anything that has been a mainstay in bigger cities for many years. We're still about 10 years behind the times on some things but every day I see or hear about a new business popping up that is offering something new and unique for this market.

So, it really depends on what your niche will be but as this is still quite a small market, start small and go from there. Grow as you learn what does well and what doesn't and what might be the newer hot ticket items that haven't really taken off here yet.

Outside of the farmers market scene and what other ideas folks have offered above. Spokane area also has something unique in the Green Bluff area which is about 15-20 minutes north of town. They actually have a cooperative of sorts with lots of farms that offer u-pick, farm activities and they do seasonal festivals and the like. Because of the popularity of the area, it's really sort of an agrotourism collective, land is on the higher end depending on how close you are to the action and if you're on the couple of main roads that people know to drive on to find all of the farms to visit. Here is the website: http://www.greenbluffgrowers.com/

Happy to help if you have other questions about the Spokane and even Northern Idaho areas.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 3915
Location: Missoula, MT
331
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Caz Nicole wrote:I moved back to Spokane just over 2 years ago after living in larger cities. It had been 19 years since I'd lived here and much has changed, but much hasn't.

There are several farmers markets but they are all quite small, they are spread throughout the city on different days. I would say the "largest" is the South Perry District market which is on Thursday nights and has a good diversity of products. The newest one in Kendall Yards (new built neighborhood right on the river NW of DT) is also growing quickly. Those two neighborhoods offer something extra which is a walkable district with lots of shops and restaurants. Those two markets have also done a great job of offering other events and activities to keep people engaged.

I still see a lot of opportunity areas here. And the economy here is pretty good, we're getting new people moving in due to the new medical school. Spokane is coming into the times, people love craft beer, local veggies, etc, etc and I see a growing market for really anything that has been a mainstay in bigger cities for many years. We're still about 10 years behind the times on some things but every day I see or hear about a new business popping up that is offering something new and unique for this market.

So, it really depends on what your niche will be but as this is still quite a small market, start small and go from there. Grow as you learn what does well and what doesn't and what might be the newer hot ticket items that haven't really taken off here yet.

Outside of the farmers market scene and what other ideas folks have offered above. Spokane area also has something unique in the Green Bluff area which is about 15-20 minutes north of town. They actually have a cooperative of sorts with lots of farms that offer u-pick, farm activities and they do seasonal festivals and the like. Because of the popularity of the area, it's really sort of an agrotourism collective, land is on the higher end depending on how close you are to the action and if you're on the couple of main roads that people know to drive on to find all of the farms to visit. Here is the website: http://www.greenbluffgrowers.com/

Happy to help if you have other questions about the Spokane and even Northern Idaho areas.

Backing up Caz's reply, I just found this WA State Farmers Market Association website with loads of information, including resources and info for farmers/producers.



Including a page to search for markets near you. When I zoomed in the map around Spokane, I saw the markets that Caz listed off.

 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
286
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
From my perspective, having lived in both, eastern WA does not have the percentage of people willing (or motivated) enough to seek out organics he way they do west of the Cascades.  However, the eastern population is much more inclined to eat home made meals, while the western population seems more in favor of 'out-of-the-box' ready made meals.  Food (and everything else) is substantially cheaper in the east, where the high paying jobs are not as abundant as they are in the western regions.  It is a much more relaxed atmosphere than the hustle-bustle of the bigger cities.

CSA's and farmer's markets do well enough there, but are not so much of a 'must-do' as they are along the I-5 corridor.  In the eastern counties, there is a program (run by government agencies - associated with WIC) that give seniors 12 weeks worth of $5 food coupons that are only good at Farmer's Markets.  The farmer's markets generally only operate about 12 weeks each season.  The seniors may use one coupon per week, or they may use them all at once.  This gives them the opportunity to eat healthier foods, and at the same time helps to subsidize the local farmers.  Great program in my opinion - assisting two groups of people who could use a helping hand.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!