Farm-to-market store to open at Wild Edge

David Peck

“Another day, another venture.”
That’s how Rebecca Bates of Byron described her new farm-to-market store at Wild Edge Screenprinting in Lovell.
Bates and her family have been in the fresh food business for many years through their Little Acres Farms northeast of Byron, and a small beginning has led to a larger concept.
“In November of last year I was in Hillside Floral, and they were opening a coffee shop,” Bates said. “I asked about them using Little Acres Farms coffee creamers and dairy products. We talked about stocking food in their stores. If interested, I said, I have a concept where other products can be placed in the same store, a farm-to-market concept.”
The farm-to-market program has taken off thanks to the Wyoming Food Freedom Act passed by the Wyoming Legislature, which allows farmers’ markets and farm-to-market stores to operate using food out of a home or farm.
“That’s how farmers’ markets work. You make it at home and sell it there,” Bates said. “Our concept was to put that into a storefront. Stores have been doing this all over the state, like in Gillette, Riverton and Lander. They’re popping up all over the state.
“They aren’t common up here, which is why I’m trying to push it in our region.”
Bates opened her first farm-to-market outlet at Hillside Floral in Powell in January.
“I’m not the (store) owner, just the one trying to put it together,” Bates explained. “I’m trying to find store owners willing to let us do it, putting products together and networking to other producers. I want to find other people who need an opportunity to sell a product in their store.”
While planning to open at Hillside Floral in Powell, Bates spoke to Cindy Asay of Wild Edge, who was then operating her business out of the Hillside Floral location in Lovell at 154 East Main. When Asay moved her store to 215 East Main, the discussion turned to the Wild Edge store.
“She’s got the store, and she’s got the space,” Bates said. “She owns the store. Our job is to make sure it’s stocked. It works on a commission basis. All of the food is from Wyoming, not anywhere else.”
When Asay announced she was holding a grand re-opening celebration this Friday and Saturday ahead of Valentine’s Day, Bates had to hustle to install equipment and shelving for the farm-to-market store. She promised to have everything in place by Friday.
Once fully operational, the Wild Edge location will feature products from not only Little Acres Farms but also Greybull Valley Produce, Secret Ingredient Farm of Powell, Flying E Meats of Greybull and Wikid Ranch Designs and Homestead of Cody, along with others to come. Bates hopes to also find locations for an outlet in Greybull and Cody.
Bates attended the Wyoming Food Coalition conference in Riverton February 1-3 and learned about local Wyoming food products and networking with other producers. The coalition works with food banks and food hubs, and Bates said she would like to bring a food hub to the area. She noted that school districts have a farm-to-school program to facilitate bringing local products to schools for breakfast and lunch.
The Wild Edge grand re-opening celebration will take place this Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.