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Six Rivers Market - a new way to shop local

What do you do when your garden is frozen, the farmer's market is
over, and you want to buy some local food? You can call individual
farmers; Hey, Farmer John, got any carrots? Farmer Jane, got any beef?
Farmer Fred, got any eggs? Then you may spend the rest of your
afternoon driving over to Priest Lake, then out to Sagle, then up to
Bonners Ferry just to make your dinner. With careful planning and
efficiency, this method could work. But these days our lives are full,
and we need convenient and realistic ways to run our errands.

Enter the Six Rivers Market.
Based on a few models functioning around the country, the market
basically works like an online farmer's market.

Simply:
Producers list their products online, consumers buy them, and, once a
week, goods can be picked up in town. Poof. Local food, made easy.

In more depth:
Local producers can list any food product they have for sale, and they
update their quantities and availabilities on a weekly basis. At a
certain time during the week (say for two or three days), consumers
can log on, search through the available merchandise, and fill a
virtual shopping cart. Buyers can choose from any products offered, so
can buy salad from Farmer Jeff and bacon from Farmer Jill if they
like. Individual farmers receive the orders, fill them, and deliver
the merchandise to a centralized location, where orders are sorted and
any one person's multi-farm order is united. For three or four hours
that afternoon and evening, the web-based market becomes a reality,
and shoppers can stop in and pick up their consolidated orders during
set hours in a centralized location.

Convenient. Realistic. Easy.

With a strong focus on local food, the site will market only goods
grown and produced within 250 miles of Sandpoint. Some products
expected to be available (and some are already listed on the site)
include fresh produce, breads, cookies, cakes, fruit pies, jams,
jellies, candy and honey, eggs, meat. The site will operate
year-round, so can act as a supplement to the farmer's market in the
season, and the sole consolidated source for local food in the
off-months.

Six Rivers Market functions as a cooperative grocery store. Like a
membership to Costco or a storefront co-op, producers and consumers
alike must be members of the market to participate in buying or
selling. Memberships cost $100 annually, or $75 before March 1. You
can also choose to pay by the month for a fee of $15/month. This money
funds the wages of a market manager, the costs of running the website, and
expenses for an in-town location for drop-off and pick-up. The group
is governed by a small board of directors.

Meadow Summers, a Sandpoint resident and local food proponent, has
been developing the idea with a small group of people for over a year,
and will be launching the first ordering cycle in April 2009. The name
"Six Rivers" refers to the Pend Oreille, Priest, Kootenai, CLark Fork,
Upper Pack, Lower Pack, and Moyie Rivers, which together form the
bioregion the market hopes to serve.

The market is currently preparing for its springtime launch, but is
still gathering a few essential tools to begin. The Sandpoint drop-off
and pick-up location has not yet been determined, and the market is
still a bit short of its $9,000 start-up goal. If you are interested
in helping this new, innovative way to distribute local food, or if
you'd like to become a member or just look around, please visit the
beautiful website at www.sixriversmarket.com.


Local Food of the Month:
Mashed Potatoes
I've had a lot of mashed potatoes in my life. But for some reason, the
last few weeks have been full of the most decadent, delicious,
delightful batches that I've ever had. The secret? Good potatoes. The
ultimate mashing potato is a golden variety, such as Yukon Gold or
Alby's Gold. These varieties seem to absorb infinite amounts of
butter and milk.
I got Yukons from both Ronnigers and Vern's Veggies (available for a
limited time from Winter Ridge), cut them into quarters, and soaked
them in cold water before rinsing and boiling them. Test the potatoes
frequently, as overcooked tots produce a funny-textured mash. My mom
says the other key to mashed potatoes is hot milk. So get it toasty,
and add butter and cream until your arteries start to clog just
looking at it. Then add salt. Eat them hot. Yum.
Fry the leftovers in more butter for breakfast, or make Shepard's Pie.

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Emily Levine Emily Levine

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