A Preston, Idaho home-grown farmers market is a hit with Franklin County residents and visitors passing through town.
Dick and Marcia Johnson operate an honor farmers market along the driveway of their Preston home. They leave the produce out front with a payment box. They have been doing it for six years and they seem to run out of produce more than they run out of customers. This time of year they have red and green peppers, onions, yellow crookneck squash and zucchini, and whatever else is in season. Later on there will be winter squash, apples, apricots and cherries.
Marcia said six years ago she wanted to go visit her daughter who was living in the Caribbean. The daughter was going to have a baby and Marcia wanted to be there. She had no money for the plane ticket.
“We put some vegetables in our driveway next to our home to sell,” Marcia said. “We sold some and I made enough to buy a ticket to go see my grandson’s birth.”
They tried it again the next year and it’s success began to grow.
She said they don’t think about being taken advantage of, as far as people taking produce without paying.
“The people around here are just wonderful; we have never worried about their honesty,” she said.” We don’t even worry about people from out of town, they are also good people.”
Over the years the market has blossomed. They have put up a white cloth shelter, rigged a farmer’s market sign and built a cash box so they don’t have to sit and wait for people to come. The Johnsons added a mist water system to keep the produce cool and damp. It’s turned in to a well-organized and thought-out process.
The Johnsons have three different sized areas of the farm that totals about 15 acres. One is strictly for growing tomatoes and they are just starting to coming on, she said.
Dick plants, cares for and harvests the produce. Their grandchildren enjoy staying during the summer to help their grandparents with the harvest.
As the market grew, Dick started to get more and more people coming from Afton, WY. So he decided to fill their pickup bed with their goods and drive to Afton, almost two hours away. He sets up his canopy and opens his market.
“There are about 80 families in Afton that come buy our produce,” he said. “We get up at 5 a.m. and pick the produce, wash it then about 11 a.m. we drive it to Afton to sell it, then return home.”
In the fall, when watermelons are on, they will take three pickups. “When we have pumpkins we have taken a semi up there before.”
“It’s more of service than a money maker,” said the retired Century Link worker. “Last year it cost more than we made.”
He only had to pay $800 for selling all of his vegetables last year, with the gas and feed for the animals.
It’s usually a break-even kind of thing.
“We just do this as a community service,” he said. “I have a good retirement that pays the bills.”
This year he said he is not going to charge people over 80 years old for his produce. For them, the produce is free. Dick said most of them are on a limited income.
“Gardening has been my life,” he said. “ I like playing in the dirt. Kind of like a kid plays in a sand pile.”