“Real Food - Always Fresh!”
Waterwheel Gardens at the Capital City Public Market
Saturdays / Now on The Grove Plaza / 10:30am- 2:30pm through December 16th!
Q & A with Matt Williams, Owner of Waterwheel Gardens
The Founder of Waterwheel Gardens, Kurtis Williams, always loved growing things. He worked at McDonalds Nursery in Walnut Creek, California while he was in High School, and then majored in Ornamental Horticulture at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. He started woodworking in 1978 in order to pay the bills and raise a family, but always grew gardens, and passed on that love of growing things to his children. He helped start the Co-op and Farmer’s Market in SLO. His son, Matt, grew up working with him, building cabinets and doing remodels. Kurtis and his Wife, Roxine, moved their Family to Emmett, Idaho in 1994 where they continued woodworking, but quickly started to see the demand for fresh locally grown produce and more vibrant Markets, so they started Waterwheel Gardens in 1995, on five acres of land on Waterwheel Rd. in Emmett.
22 years later, Matt is now the President of the Capital City Public Market Board of Directors, while working with Kurtis to run Waterwheel Gardens, which has expanded to about 20 acres, with lots of help from Roxine, three of Matt’s brothers, Jon, Noah and Ethan, and a few good friends. When asked about Waterwheel Gardens, Matt remarks, “working hard for what you love comes easy to me.” And Matt is absolutely correct.
What Makes Waterwheel Gardens So Special?
For years, Matt and his Family have planted a wide variety of unique and delicious fruit trees, berry bushes, and colorful, tasty veggies, many varieties that you would never find on a supermarket shelf, in large part due to how perishable many heirloom varieties are. Selling mainly at Farmer’s Markets around the area, allows for what is being sold at the Markets to be harvested just the day before, if not the day of Market!
“Being able to let a Tomato or a Peach (any fruit or berry, really) ripen fully before harvesting, and then offered to the consumer immediately, is a huge part of why local Farmer’s Markets are popular and successful. The ability to meet the producer, and talk directly about their work is another unique aspect of shopping at the Farmer’s Market. It connects customers with their food in a way that you can’t experience elsewhere, and that is an important connection; for the Farmer to motivate themselves when the work gets tough, knowing that people are relying on them for what they will eat next week. And for the customer to know that they’re playing a key role in the farming process. The feedback that I get at the Farmer’s Market has a huge impact in why I do what I do.”
Using sustainable growing practices is another reason why the produce tastes as delicious as it does. Waterwheel Gardens incorporates a lot of compost into the soil for every crop they grow, as well as some cover crops, and lots of crop rotation. Their soil is quite sandy naturally, so it drains well, which is ideal for growing fruit trees, grapes, berries, etc. They also started raising chickens, last year, inspired in part by famous small farmer Joel Salatin. Not only are free-range eggs in high demand and delicious! running chickens through the fields and orchards also helps with some pest control, weed control and fertilization.
Jared Lynch, a longtime family friend, who started working with Waterwheel a couple years ago, was the main catalyst for them deciding to raise chickens. He spent a good part of the Summer of 2015 building a chicken coop, on a trailer, so that it could be moved around the orchards and fields. It’s been quite successful and a second “Chicken Hotel” is in the works! This fall the focus has been on building a large 72’ x 22’ Greenhouse for the Farm to expand its early and late season offerings of Lettuce, Spinach, Herbs and hopefully Tomatoes. With the potential to grow some things all the way through the Winter.
“We have received a lot of great help, advice and encouragement from friends and neighbors over the years, to build our farm into what it is today; to help build the Markets into what they are as well. We’ve met some great people who shop with us regularly, and some have become good friends that we look forward to seeing each week! They love what we do, and we couldn’t do it without their support.”
“Every year has a new set of challenges, and we keep pushing ahead to plan for and overcome those. The wider variety of products we can grow, the better we are able to handle a hard Winter or a late Spring that may negatively affect crops like cherries, apricots, or peaches; or keep us from getting tomatoes and peppers planted early enough for a long harvest season. We have learned that we can’t rely on any one crop to always be great.”
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, Prepped for the Summer
At the height of Summer, Waterwheel Gardens participates in six different markets each week! Tuesday in Ketchum (mid June - mid October) Wednesday in McCall (mid June - mid September) Thursday in Hailey (mid June - mid October) then on Saturdays they go back to McCall for that Saturday Market, and also do the Capital City Public Market (mid April until Christmas!) in addition to all of that, they do a year-round, small solo Market at Nourish Me, a Health Food Store in Ketchum, Thursdays through the Summer and Every Tuesday through the Winter!
“One of the big challenges to farming, especially here in Idaho where we have several months of the year when it’s almost impossible to grow anything outdoors, is turning it into a year round business, and maintaining momentum from season to season. With our small commercial kitchen, we have been able to process most of what we can’t sell fresh during the Summer, and make a number of value added products (Jam, Dried Fruit, Canned Goods, etc.) that store well and that we can sell through the Winter. By the end of September, we usually have several freezers of frozen berries and fruit stocked up… We also have a couple large walk-in coolers and can store a few varieties of later Apples like Fuji, Braeburn and Pink Lady Apples, as well as Bosc and D’Anjou Pears, for a few months into February and March at least, selling those at Nourish Me, to local Restaurants and at our farm through the Winter. We now have Fresh Eggs all Winter, and a couple of years ago we started Pressing Fresh Apple Cider too! We sell Hot Cider at the Holiday Market when it’s chilly.”
Waterwheel Gardens offers seasonal fruits, berries and vegetables, eggs, jams, dried fruit, and other canned goods. In the Spring, they grow and sell a large variety of herb & veggie plants. They also grow all kinds of Flowers and have fresh cut Flowers available at the Markets most of the season. Tulips and Daffodils in the Spring, with Zinnias & Sunflowers all Summer! The seasonal products that are currently featured include a vast array of Apples and Pears, Winter Squash and Sweet Onions. If you can’t make it the Capital City Public Market on Saturday don’t fret, Waterwheel Gardens sells their produce to local restaurants: Fork, Alavita, Richard's, Modern Hotel, Juniper, State & Lemp, Camel’s Crossing, and Grit.
Barbarian Brewery uses Waterwheel’s gorgeous butternut squashes to create their signature Harvest Ale. What a tasty treat! Try the butternut squash ale at Barbarian’s new downtown location: 1022 W. Main St. Boise, ID 83702
Discover the Magic at Boise’s Capital City Public Market
What’s so great about the Capital City Public Market? Matt Williams says, “it brings together like minded producers who love what they do. We connect with each other through our passion for what we have chosen to do, and then we share that with those who visit our market” One can experience and taste the quality that goes into these products. Whether purchasing homemade hummus, tasting jalapeno lemonade wine, or finding unique crafted spoon rings; the Capital City Market has it all. Supporting the community and local vendors has never been easier. So grab your friends and family and head downtown this Saturday.
The Capital City Public Market is located in Downtown Boise on 8th street, from State Street down onto The Grove Plaza, starting in Mid April, from 9:30 AM - 1:30 PM.
On November 4th, the Market Board decided to move the whole Market off the street and onto The Grove Plaza! With all the construction that’s been going on there, the Market hasn’t been able to utilize that space for the last two years, but now that it’s finished, it’s the perfect place to bring everyone together for The Holiday Market, which will run every Saturday, 10:30 AM - 2:30 PM through December 16th. Tis the season for shopping local!
For the Newbies:
If you’re new to the Capital City Public Market here are a few quick tips to navigating the various booths.
- Ready-to-eat stands are spread out through the market, though the majority are in the upper two blocks. (During the Summer)
- Produce Vendors are on a seasonal rotation so not every type of produce will be available.
- All kinds of unique Artisan products! Stoneware, Metalwork, Photography, Leatherwork, Hand Blown Glass and more!
- Keep an eye out for local talent and musical events.
- Gluten Galaxy offers vegan and gluten free pastries and treats. Their gluten free buns can be found at local restaurant, Bittercreek Ale House.
For the Vendors:
If you have an unique product that you think could benefit the Capital City Public Market, don’t hesitate. Click the link to learn more: Capital City Public Market Vendors
Benefits for your Business:
- Utilize the Capital City Market as a way to grow business or even start it
- Opportunity for great advertising and reach over 15,000 people in the height of the Summer season
- Self-employment never sounded so sweet but in reality it’s a lot of work and the competition is fierce
For more information about Waterwheel Gardens, visit their website at http://www.waterwheelgardens.com. Or stay connected at the Waterwheel Gardens Facebook Page.
More photos of Waterwheel Gardens at the Capital City Public Market!