Farmers markets lure shoppers to suburbs

Growth • A pool of 350 vendors rotates among four locations, which give Utahns new options.
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The Downtown Farmers Market has some friendly competition.

The people behind Wasatch Front Farmers Market now run four markets in the suburbs. And their marketing and business backgrounds mean those events are becoming scenes of their own.

Maryann Alston said she and her husband, Marty, created the Wheeler Farm market in 2011 as a hobby — and in reaction to the large crowds at the Pioneer Park market.

"Quickly, we became a marketing force for all these little guys," she said.

Last year they created the market at Gardner Village and this year took over the markets for Thanksgiving Point and Millcreek. That market will now be held with Millcreek Movies in the Park and the Venture Outdoors Festival and will rotate between four locations.

They also run a brick and mortar market in Murray.

Alston said they have a pool of 350 vendors that rotate among the markets.

She bills her events as family-friendly with a pancake breakfast using local ingredients served from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Cost is $4-$7. New this year is a kid passport to encourage children to complete the Kids' Club crafts.

Also new is Meet Me at the Market — a weekly 5k walk, bike or run at Gardner Village and Wheeler Farm. The exercise can be done individually, though there are free t-shirts, breakfast and produce for doing it with the group at 9 a.m.

"We want people to really spend their day at our markets," she said. "We have the vendors, we have the location. Now we want to make the most of what we're doing."

When asked if she's trying to compete with the Downtown market at Pioneer Park, Alston said she wants her vendors to succeed.

"There's plenty [of business] to go around," she said. "There's a reason there's 10 Walmarts. … Why not have farmers markets where they can choose to go instead of Walmarts?" —

Markets in the burbs

Gardner Village • 1100 W. 7800 South, West Jordan, Saturdays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Wheeler Farm • 6351 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, Sundays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Thanksgiving Point • 3003 N. Thanksgiving Way, Lehi, Fridays starting July 12, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Millcreek • various locations, Fridays starting June 7. First event is at Canyon Rim Park, 2900 E. 3100 South, Salt Lake City, 5-8:45 p.m. followed by free movie. See event schedule at