LANDER, Wyo. — Customers stood in a line stretching nearly to the back coolers of the small store, clutching boxes of Greybull lettuce, bags of Ralston flour and golden spaghetti squashes grown down the street. Others hovered around samples of organic sauerkraut and baked goods.
“It makes me really happy,” Joanne Slingerland said over the din as she watched the busy store from a small table near the window.
Slingerland is a board member of the newly formed Slow Food Wind River chapter, which orchestrated Wednesday’s pop-up market. It was a bit of a test run for the forthcoming Meadowlark Market, where customers will be able to buy Wyoming-made food year round.
Recognizing the popularity of initiatives like the farmers market and the keen interest in local products, Slingerland said, “All of us that are involved wanted to see a brick-and-mortar store for local food” in Lander. There is already a local food market in Riverton.
The food advocates have thus far formed the Slow Food Wind River chapter, found an investor for the 100-plus-year-old building that will house the market and started rolling it out with one-off events.
Once they have it more dialed, the shop will open permanently, Slingerland said. Along with being a pick-up point for orders through the Casper-based local-food distributor Eat Wyoming, the market will also have a commercial test kitchen.
It’ll be a learning curve, Slingerland said, but the aim is to fill a need. “We just want to provide food to our community that’s accessible and healthy.”
On Wednesday, the market was stocked with microgreens, flour tortillas, carrots, beef cuts, chevre, buttermilk and honey, representing about a dozen Wyoming producers.
Wednesday’s pop-up was held on the eve of the Wyoming Food Coalition annual conference — a three-day forum with workshops for growers on scaling up to wholesale orders, talks on getting products into school lunches and discussions of Wyoming agrotourism. Plus, of course, plenty of food to sample.