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New one-stop store opens in Lander to provide Wyoming-made food throughout the year

An older woman wearing a red jacket and blue scarf writes feedback on a sheet of paper on a big wooden table. Around her are jars, soaps, and bunches of basil.
Hannah Habermann
/
Wyoming Public Radio
Lander resident Suza Bedient writes down her thoughts on what could be improved at the new Meadowlark Market & Kitchen at the store's opening day event.

On a Friday afternoon in Lander, the sky was heavy and overcast. But inside Meadowlark Market & Kitchen, the space was bright and bustling as folks came in and grabbed cartons of eggs, Mason jars full of yogurt, and tubs of leafy greens. March 1st was the official opening day at the new store, which is aiming to provide a consistent, brick-and-mortar spot to buy and sell local food year-round.

The market wants to help Wyoming farmers and ranchers get their food on local tables, while also making it easier for community members to find those goods when farmers markets aren’t happening. The new store is located in a more-than-a-hundred-year-old brick building on the town’s Main Street.

Meadowlark Market essentially serves as a consignment store for products that are made in home kitchens under the Wyoming Food Freedom Act, holding them in the store but not technically purchasing them to remain in compliance to the act. They’re also selling products at wholesale that have been created in commercial kitchens, which makes the space accessible to a wide range of producers using different production models.

Melissa Hemken runs Melissahof Hatchery a few miles outside of Lander and had her poultry and garlic on the shelves at the market on opening day. She helped start the store and said the space is a win-win for consumers and producers.

“It provides [producers] a lot more flexibility. They may have young kids, they gotta go feed their cows, they don't need to be here to sell their product. And they don't need to be here for the customer to get their product, which is helpful on that customer side as well,” she said.

Suza Bedient lives in Lander and was shopping at Meadowlark on the store’s opening day. She said she’s looking forward to the community the space might create, as well as the ability to get certain hard-to-find products more consistently.

“I really love good, well-grown meat. And I love lamb, which is not easy to find in our Safeway. I'm very excited that it's easy to get here and affordable,” she said.

Meadowlark also has a commercially-inspected kitchen that community members can rent if they want to scale-up whatever they’re making. The kitchen will help host cooking classes and pop-up dinners from local chefs.

The store has drawn a lot of inspiration from neighboring Fremont Local Market, another Wyoming-focused food store in Riverton. Other similar stores have been popping up around the state in recent years.

Tune in to Open Spaces Friday, March 15th and Sunday, March 17th to learn more about Meadowlark Market and efforts to expand locally-based agriculture in the state.

Hannah Habermann is the rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has a degree in Environmental Studies and Non-Fiction Writing from Middlebury College and was the co-creator of the podcast Yonder Lies: Unpacking the Myths of Jackson Hole. Hannah also received the Pattie Layser Greater Yellowstone Creative Writing & Journalism Fellowship from the Wyoming Arts Council in 2021 and has taught backpacking and climbing courses throughout the West.

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