Othello seeks site for permanent farmers market

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OTHELLO — The city of Othello is looking for a permanent place to host its farmers market.

And possibly become the city’s gathering place.

A group of city residents, council members, vendors at the current farmers market and Washington State Department Agriculture Director Derek Sandison met Monday evening with consultants advising the city to discuss future possibilities for the farmers market, which is currently held in Pioneer Park.

The city is going to look closely at four sites — Pioneer, Lions and Kiwanis parks, as well as the current site of the East Columbia Irrigation District, which is owned by the Bureau of Reclamation.

Tom Beckwith, a consultant helping the city study the future of its farmers market, said that over 4,000 Othello households will soon get a postcard inviting residents to participate in an online survey.

“We’re going to ask people, what other things do you think should be in this space?” Beckwith said. “We need as much data as we can get to find out.”

Beckwith looked at the examples of other permanent farmers markets in Kittitas, Pasco, Wenatchee and Twisp

to see what works with something more permanent, and how Othello can use its strengths as a community of very young families to make a market and community center work.

“You have a good future,” Beckwith said.

The city received a $50,000 grant from the state Agriculture Department to do this study, which should provide some direction for future development.

However, any permanent farmers market or city gathering place — or zocalo, a term for a town square in Mexico — would take resources and time to get started, especially if the city seeks to acquire one or more parcels at the northeast corners of Seventh and Main from the federal government.

“It will take money to get a yearround gathering place,” said Mayor Shawn Logan.

The current farmers market, which is open from 3-7 p.m. on Thursdays in Pioneer Park, is managed by the Othello Chamber of Commerce.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at countygvt@columbiabasinherald. com.

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