Spokane Conservation District plans permanent market
$3 million project slated to start next year, with spring ’25 opening eyedJune 8th, 2023
The Spokane Conservation District plans to create a permanent structure to accommodate a year-round farmers market and a commercial kitchen, to be called the Scale House Market & Kitchen, on part of its 50-acre campus in Spokane Valley.
District director Vicki Carter says, “It’s been a long time coming with Spokane being one of the only cities of this size in our region without a permanent farmers market.”
Integrus Architecture PS, of Spokane, designed the Scale House Market & Kitchen. A contractor for the $3 million project hasn’t been selected yet, Carter adds.
Design work and infrastructure improvements are expected to begin later this year. Carter says full-scale construction is anticipated to begin next year, followed by an opening in spring 2025.
To be located at 4422 E. Eighth, the market space will be a central hub for all the district’s activities, Carter says.
The market will, “give us an opportunity to do more education on where our food comes from, education on soil health, education on food preparation, and preservation,” she says, adding that it will offer a variety of other adult education classes.
The permanent farmers market isn’t intended to compete with established markets throughout the Spokane area, of which there are about a dozen, she says. Instead, the market will enhance others in the region and help farmers and producers extend their sales season and processing capabilities.
A preexisting 4,300-square-foot quarry scale house structure will be retrofitted to have flexible space for about 25 vendors, the commercial kitchen, walk-in cold and freezer storage, and public restrooms.
Outside of the scale house, a 7,100-square-foot outdoor area will house an open-air market with room for 30 vendors, a handful of food trucks, a stage area for demonstrations, and an arts-and-culture activity space.
The commercial kitchen area will host classes and provide a space for food processing, she adds.
“At the end of their day, that unused or unsold produce can be refrigerated and stored in a much safer manner, making the produce more viable,” explains Carter. “Having that commercial kitchen is a game changer too, because that can actually take their product and do what we call value-added processing.”
For example, she says unsold garlic at the end of the season can be dried, processed into a powder, and bottled for resale in the kitchen space. Similarly, fresh produce could be processed, then sold in packaging with a recipe, which in turn also gets people making and eating healthier meals, she adds.
Market vendors and businesses that need commercial kitchen space will be able to lease time in the kitchen, Carter says.
Programming at the market will be provided by Four Roots LLC, a Spokane-based farm education and food distribution business, she says.
Brittany Tyler, who co-owns Four Roots along with Lissette Walser, says the permanent farmers market will eliminate many of the logistical hurdles farmers experience when bringing produce to market.
“We can offer a permanent structure where nobody has to come in and pop anything up,” says Tyler. “We believe that it will actually allow them to participate more fully in the existing markets.”
Four Roots provides a food boxing program that sources from local farmers and producers, then distributes food boxes to hunger-relief organizations in Eastern Washington.
Tyler says Four Roots is preparing to roll out a retail food box program, and working at the market will provide the company with opportunities to glean leftover produce from farmers at the market for the food boxes.
Carter says funding for the market is provided in part by a $750,000 grant through the Washington state Department of Commerce for initial design work and buildout. A capital campaign is in the works to raise matching funds. The conservation district will request another $750,000 from the Legislature next year to complete the funding.
The scale house was previously a facility for weighing material, such as rock products from the property’s former owner, Central Pre-Mix Concrete Co.
As previously reported in the Journal, the district purchased the former quarry for $1.3 million in 2017. A 7,000-square-foot preexisting multitenant building on the campus, at 4418 E. Eighth, was the past home of Spokane Valley-based information-technology company Intrinium Inc.