SPOKANE — At the beginning of the summer, it looked like Cheney would lose its farmers market this year.
The previous director of Cheney Farmers Market had closed her business, and because the market took place in the parking lot of that business, the market appeared doomed to close with it.
After hearing about the problem in the community, Colbie Monter, a 17-year-old and incoming senior at Cheney High School, decided she wouldn’t let that happen.
“I kind of knew I wanted to do some sort of summer project this year, and I heard about the need for the farmers market. So, with the help of my mom and some friends, I got it started back up,” Monter said. “I was like, ‘OK, that seems like the perfect thing to do with my summer.’ “
Outside of her job and summer practices for her school band, Monter worked to secure a location for the market, attract vendors, advertise the event and to start and maintain social media pages for the market.
“It can be a lot,” Monter said, but “seeing what it does for the community, it does, it makes it worth it.”
The Cheney Farmers Market takes place at Veteran’s Memorial park in Cheney on the second and fourth Saturdays of every month, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., through Oct. 14.
July 22 was Monter’s first market.
Local vendors sold a variety of goods, including fresh produce, raw honey, lavender soaps and oils, customized cups and crocheted bags.
“I didn’t see anyone walk away empty-handed. I checked in with all of the vendors and they all said that sales were very good,” Monter said.
Vendors voiced similar experiences at the market.
Tom Manely, the owner of Twin Calves Ranch, which sold direct-to-consumer beef at the market, said business at the market was “fantastic,” and he was excited to learn that the market was back on.
“Next year, now that we know they’re going to do it, we’ll sign up and participate for all of the weekends,” he said.
Sabrina Bosch, of A Town and Country Floral, sold out of all of her bouquets. Bosch was happy with Monter’s work on the market.
“She did a very nice job,” Bosch said. “I was very proud of her.”
Heidi Monter, Monter’s mother, also runs a booth at the market. She owns M five Leather Designs, which sells genuine leather earrings and other accessories.
“I did fairly well and especially for farmers markets, I felt like we had a good, steady flow of people throughout the whole day,” Heidi Monter said.
Colbie Monter said farmers markets are important in communities because of their benefits to small businesses.
“It provides people an opportunity to shop small businesses, and the small businesses are truly like the cornerstone of our local economy,” she said.
On the produce side of the market, Colbie Monter said food from a farmers market is better for the environment and better for health.
“When you buy local, it’s much closer, so that helps reduce your carbon footprint. The food is also healthier, it’s made with less pesticides, less hormones, less GMOs,” Colbie Monter said.
She also said local animal products come from livestock treated more humanely than at a factory farm.
Featuring free yoga by local Cheney business The Wellness Vault, and 10 local vendors, the market took up almost a quarter of the park. By the end of the summer, Colbie Monter hopes to grow the vendor number to 15 or 20.
“I want to fill up the park eventually,” she said.
Colbie Monter encourages people to visit the farmers’ market, but also to visit the city of Cheney.
“If you’re coming on a Saturday, there isn’t just the market to check out.”
She pointed to a vintage shop, a boutique and “lots of little cafes.”
“It’s a really fun place to spend the day,” she said.
Colbie Monter has received positive responses from the community for her work organizing the market.
“I just had a lot of people personally thank me for bringing it back,” Colbie Monter said. “A lot of small businesses also are very thankful to kind of have a place to sell their things.”
Colbie Monter’s mom is among them.
“I think she did great,” Heidi Monter said. “When she said she wanted to do this I was right behind her. Couldn’t be more proud of her.”