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Boise’s Capital City Public Market opens for its 30th year Saturday. See how vendors prepare

With the Capital City Public Market set to open for its 30th year Saturday in downtown Boise, local vendors are scurrying to prepare for opening day.

In between making batches of their Berryhot Jam, Mark and Cindy McClaskey had to repair a broken-down tractor at their Caldwell-based farm this week.

It’s all part of the madness leading up to the first market of the year.

“We enjoy it,” Cindy McClaskey told the Idaho Statesman by phone Thursday. “Mark and I see people that we’ve known for 20, 25 years. They’re kind of like family almost.”

The Capital City Public Market will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Saturday from April 13 through Dec. 21, rain or shine. The market is located on the Grove Plaza and on 8th Street between Main and Idaho.

The Statesman caught up with a few of the market’s longest-tenured vendors this week to see what goes on behind the scenes in preparation for the big day.

Mark and Cindy McClaskey have been selling gladiolas at the Capital City Public Market since it opened in downtown Boise in 1994. Even their dog, Princess, helps as they prepare bouquets from their own garden for the market.
Mark and Cindy McClaskey have been selling gladiolas at the Capital City Public Market since it opened in downtown Boise in 1994. Even their dog, Princess, helps as they prepare bouquets from their own garden for the market.

Idaho goods from Idaho vendors

McClaskey’s is a family owned and operated, sustainable, green farm in Canyon County that was started in 1944 by Charles and Ethel McClaskey.

Mark McClaskey is their grandson, and he runs the farm along with his wife, Cindy. They are one of the Capital City Public Market’s 150 vendors, all of whom sell products crafted in Idaho by Idahoans.

The McClaskeys have been selling their goods at the market since its inception in 1994. They are known for their gladiolus and Berryhot Jam, and also sell a variety of flowers, tomatoes, cucumbers, cacti and succulents grown entirely on their farm, depending on the time of year.

“Over the years we have seen it grow from when Mark’s nieces would come down with a bucket of glads and sit and make maybe $40,” Cindy said. “We’ve gone way beyond that now.”

Mark and Cindy McClaskey have been selling gladiolas at the Capital City Public Market since it opened in downtown Boise in 1994.
Mark and Cindy McClaskey have been selling gladiolas at the Capital City Public Market since it opened in downtown Boise in 1994.

During peak season, Cindy estimates they bring as many as 60 bouquets, 20 five-gallon buckets of gladiolas and 100 jars of jam. She usually cuts the flowers Thursday and assembles the bouquets Friday in order to be ready bright and early Saturday morning.

The McClaskeys then head out from their Caldwell farm to Boise around 7 a.m. with a van chock-full of goods.

They have annual and perennial flowers on the McClaskey farm as well as a greenhouse. The gladiolas cover three acres, and Mark and Cindy hand-plant between 300,000 and 500,000 bulbs each year. That task will start Monday and takes about two weeks, Cindy said.

The McClaskeys began selling their Berryhot Jam about five years ago. Cindy had tried the spicy compote at a farmer’s market in Portland and decided to make her own version. It took about a year of experimenting before she perfected her recipe.

“It started out as a fun thing, and now it’s one of those things I sell so much that I have to be continually making jam,” Cindy said. “Every week I have to make jam because I sell a lot of it and I have a lot of repeat customers.”

This Saturday, the McClaskeys will be selling bouquets comprised of tulips and daffodils, Berryhot Jam and cacti.

Meaghan Goulder shapes a spoon at her home workshop Thursday in Boise. Meagan and Mike Goulder sell their wooden spoons, spatulas and more at the Capital City Public Market.
Meaghan Goulder shapes a spoon at her home workshop Thursday in Boise. Meagan and Mike Goulder sell their wooden spoons, spatulas and more at the Capital City Public Market.

Arborist to artisan

Before Meaghan Goulder met her husband, Mark, she was a zookeeper at Zoo Boise, helping care for animals like zebras and giraffes.

Now she spends her days hand-crafting wooden utensils alongside Mark in the shop behind their Boise home.

The Goulders were hard at work Thursday afternoon with the Capital City Public Market only two days away. They must be in constant production to keep up with the demand.

Mike had no idea what he was in for when he made his first wooden spoon in 1996.

“I wanted to make some jam that you have to stir for like 10 minutes prior to its boiling. And I was like, ‘I don’t have anything to even stir this with,’ ” Mike said. “So I went out and made this very rude utensil. And then I thought I should start making these. Then I made a few more and other people saw them and said: ‘Oh, that’s cool. I want one of those.’

“From there, I just kept making them. At the beginning I was like, ‘Well, if people keep buying them, I’ll keep making them.’ And here it is 28 years later.”

Meaghan Goulder sands a cutting board and Mike Goulder uses a band saw to cut out spatulas at their home workshop Thursday in Boise.
Meaghan Goulder sands a cutting board and Mike Goulder uses a band saw to cut out spatulas at their home workshop Thursday in Boise.

Mike began working with wood as an arborist, pruning and removing trees around the Treasure Valley. He wanted to find a way to reuse the wood he harvested, and after making his first spoon on a whim, Treeworks was born. Every utensil the Goulders make comes from trees grown locally.

“As far as the actual product that we put out, everything is from trees in people’s yards that were gonna end up at the dump or become firewood,” Mike said.

Mike brought about 25 spoons and a hand-carved chair to the Capital City Public Market in 1996 and sold nearly every one that first day. He has been going ever since.

His first spoons were chopped with a hatchet, but as the business has grown, the Goulders have invested in a bandsaw and sanders. Each utensil undergoes a 19-step process from start to finish.

In addition to a variety of spoons, the Goulders also make spatulas, forks, butter knives, salad sets, tongs, cutting boards, spoon rests, hairsticks and even some pendants and earrings.

Mike and Meaghan Goulder of Boise make wooden spoons and other utensils at their home workshop to sell at the Capital City Public Market.
Mike and Meaghan Goulder of Boise make wooden spoons and other utensils at their home workshop to sell at the Capital City Public Market.

Meaghan quit her job at the zoo in 2010 to join Mike as a spoon maker, and she was recently voted the market’s president of the board of directors.

“The market is pretty much our single source of income,” Meaghan said. “So we love it. We respect it. We want to give back to it. It’s super important to us.”

One of Mike and Meaghan Goulder’s hand-crafted utensils is the “Spoontula.” The Goulders have been selling their wooden utensils at the Capital City Public Market since 1996.
One of Mike and Meaghan Goulder’s hand-crafted utensils is the “Spoontula.” The Goulders have been selling their wooden utensils at the Capital City Public Market since 1996.