Summer heat affects market production


Katie Dunn

Lori Musgrave, right, checking out customers.

By Katie Dunn, Staff Writer

“It hasn’t been a very big market,” said Jeanie Wolen, Cheney Farmers Market manager.

Cheney Farmers Market concluded its season with five vendors. Their season began in June and ends with the start of Eastern Washington University’s fall quarter.

During the summer, the market is located in the Cheney City Hall parking lot on Tuesdays from 2-6 p.m. When fall quarter starts and car-owning students occupy the street parking, the public employees are forced to use the city hall’s parking lot for their vehicles. The public employees end up occupying the majority of the market vendors’ space.

“In a year like this where it looks like it’s going to stay warm for awhile, it would be nice if we could go into October,” said Jeanie Wolen.

Wolen sells wax candles and soaps alongside her husband Ben Wolen,  who sells watercolor prints.

The high temperatures and minimal rain this summer was a blessing for some and trouble for others.

Not as many customers were out when the temperature hovered around 100 degrees. On those days, Jeanie Wolen had trouble with her wax melts.

Richard Green, a vendor selling honey, soaps, aprons and bags, has three personal beehives near his house and a collaboration of 200 hives nestled between Mount Spokane and Rosalia, Washington.

“In some places the honey crop wasn’t good because of the drought in July,” said Green.

“The thing about honey when it’s hot is that it doesn’t wilt,” said Green. “With honey, the sun just enhances it.”

Local author Reade Brown and his niece Shelley said their spinach was wiped out pretty quickly by the heat.

Richard Green's honey is made locally by bee farmers.
Photo by Katie Dunn
Richard Green’s honey is made locally by bee farmers.

Lori Musgrave had her produce and baked goods set up on the cooler end of the parking lot.

“It has been the most amazing growing season in years,” said Musgrave. She sells a variety of honey, baked goods and fruits and vegetables.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, grocery store prices increased over two percent from a year ago.

Musgrave said she charges less for her produce than stores like Safeway, and her’s is freshly picked the morning of the market.

She plans to offer Friday deliveries during the winter for students and community members to continue buying local produce. Some day she would like to open a store in Cheney that would offer organic and gluten free foods.

There are several veteran vendors who have been attending the market for more than a couple of years, but this summer only had one new face.

Fred Meyer joined Cheney’s farmers market for the promotion of his Mama Torres Salsa, which uses authentic Mexican recipes and fresh warm-weather produce grown outside Pasco, Washington.

A trend with new vendors has been giving up before they have gotten started.

“They come one or two days, don’t make a lot, and then leave. It takes time to become established,” said Green. “It’s hard for us to keep people coming back as vendors. Their expectations are too high.”

“None of us would have a market if we didn’t work together,” said Green.