Idaho Locavore Overview
There are plenty of seasonal Locavore opportunities to find exactly the fruit, vegetables, beef, lamb, poultry, wine or dairy products that you may be looking for. The 2007 USDA Farm Census reported that Idaho had approximately 25,349 farms and the average number of acres per farm was 454. Of those farms, 1,137 showed that they raised vegetables for sale, there were 485 orchards, 273 organic farms and 136 CSAs in the state.
Synopsis of 2007 USDA Ag census for Idaho
|Farms with Vegetables harvested for sale||Twin Falls||Bingham||Canyon||Madison||Fremont|
|Number of Orchards||Canyon||Gem||Ada||Payette||Gooding|
|Sweet Corn||Twin Falls||Gooding||Canyon||Bingham||Ada|
|Blackberries and Dewberries||Kootenai||Twin Falls||Canyon||Bonner||Idaho|
|Poultry and egg production||Canyon||Ada||Elmore||Jefferson||Latah|
|Dairy cattle and milk production||Gooding||Twin Falls||Canyon||Franklin||Jerome|
|Beef and Cattle ranches||Canyon||Bingham||Ada||Twin Falls||Bannock|
|Aquaculture or other animal production||Canyon||Ada||Bingham||Bannock||Kootenai|
|Farms that collect Honey||Ada||Canyon||Boundary||Nez Perce||Washington|
For more specific detail on what local fruits and vegetables are available (and when), please check out our Idaho availability guide
Commercial Growing Regions for Idaho Fruit and Vegetables
The principal fruit-growing area is in southwestern Idaho, where apples, plums, peaches, cherries, and grapes are grown, vegetables are grown throughout the Snake River valley. Specialty crops grown in the state include alfalfa seed, hybrid sweet corn, peppermint and spearmint, red clover seed, a great variety of vegetable seeds, hops, and nursery products such as sod grass for lawns and ornamental trees. Idaho is also an important cattle-raising state and is the 8th largest sheep-raising state. Additionally, Idaho is a leading wool-producing state and a major lamb-producing state. Hogs and also chickens are raised, mainly in the Snake River valley.
Idaho is typically associated with high mountains and cold temperatures, but southwest Idaho's low elevation and relatively moderate climate make it ideal for growing European wine grapes. And over the past few years, many Idaho growers have begun turning to wine grape production. In March of 2007, a bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Snake River Valley of southern Idaho and eastern Oregon as an American Viticultural Area. Between 1976 and 2007, the number of commercial wineries in Idaho has grown from one in 1976 to 29 currently (we have 18 Idaho Wineries listed within our Locavore database). The Idaho Wine Festival celebrates the state's grape harvest and is held in Boise the last week of August.
Growing and Planting seasons
Northern through central Idaho is a mountainous, often heavily forested region. Along the western edge of the panhandle lie rolling hills of grasslands and extensive grain fields. Except for the low, warm Clearwater River drainage around Lewiston and Orofino, the growing season is short and relatively cool. At higher elevations and along the eastern side of the state, winter temperatures can fall to -30°F or colder. The frost free growing season is about 90 to 150 days in the valleys and 60 to 90 days in the mountains. Soils in the region are generally slightly to very acid and range from sandy to heavy clay soils. Silt loam soils are common and poor soil drainage is often a concern. For this region, cold hardy, early ripening fruit and cool-season vegetable varieties perform best. In and around Lewiston, the growing season is substantially longer and warmer, making the region suitable for many fruit varieties.
Southeastern Idaho includes high plains and desert to the west, leading to foothills and high mountains to the east. Winters are often cold, with temperatures of -30°F and below not uncommon. Despite high daytime summer temperatures, the overall growing season is short and relatively cool. Throughout most of the region, the frost-free growing season ranges from 30 days at the highest elevations to 150 days in the valleys and plains.
Along the Snake River drainages from Idaho Falls west, the growing season can be 150 days or longer. Annual precipitation is 20 inches or less, except in the mountains, where 30 inches of precipitation is typical. Irrigation is required for crop production in most southeastern Idaho sites. Desert and lowland soils are often alkaline and iron chlorosis can be a problem with fruit and vegetable crops on some sites. Mountain soils are generally acidic. Soils range from sand to heavy clay, with light-textured soils predominating. As with northern and central Idaho, gardeners will enjoy their greatest success with cold hardy, early ripening fruit and cool season vegetable varieties.
Southwestern Idaho around Boise and Payette is ideal for growing many fruit and vegetable crops. The winter climate is relatively mild and the growing season long and warm, with frost-free periods of 120 to more than 150 days common. Moving eastward, the climate cools, but the Twin Falls area is still suitable for many fruit and vegetable crops. Portions of Owyhee County are cooler still, with a 60 to 90 day frost-free period. Soils in the southwestern Idaho are often alkaline and irrigation water can also be alkaline. Gardeners must be alert for symptoms of iron chlorosis.
To check the USDA Growing zone for your specific ZipCode, click here: What's My Growing Zone?
How to find Idaho Growers and producers
To search our database for growers, producers and wineries near you, use one of these three methods:
1. Go to the Proximity search page . Enter the Zip code that you want to use as the basis for your search, enter the number of miles around the Zip code, click or unclick the business types you want to search for, then click the "Search' button. When the results appear, if you want more information about a specific business, you can click on the map marker and then the farm or business name within the information box.
If you would rather not enter a Zip code, you can enter a City and State name or a County and State name.
2. To see all of the Profiles within a specific State, go to the menu selection entitled "State Information" in the blue menu section at the top of the page. Scroll to your State name and as you move through the State names, you will see two menu choices appear to the right of your cursor. Click on the one that includes the words "Growers and Producers". When the list shows on your screen, you may sort by County name (click on the word "County"). If you are looking for a specific product such as Peaches or Beef or Honey, simply enter your search term in the appropriate box. For the Colorado Grower list, click on this link: Idaho Grower list .
3. Using the search box in the upper right hand corner of the screen, just enter the terms you wish to search for..there is no need to include a coma. As an example, if you want to find Peach growers in Idaho, just type in the words Peaches Idaho and click on the Search button. There is no need to enter connecting words such as "and" or "in".
Additional Idaho Locavore information
- Every state has a Cooperative Extension System. Regional offices offer location specific advice on a broad array of topics (including gardening), and may be able to provide you with contact information for growers who are not yet registered on our site. Most have gardening hotlines and offer informational fact sheets, soil testing and pest identification for free or a nominal cost. Often the help is provided by Master Gardeners who are trained to assist the agriculture agents with home gardener's needs. To find contact information for your local County Extension Office – Idaho County Extension Offices.
- If you would like to ask questions of fellow Idaho Locavores, discuss tips, share recipes, stories, pictures or any another great “Slow Food” discovery, please post it in our Idaho forum by clicking here: Idaho Locavore Forum
- State sponsored “Locally Grown” program - Idaho Preferred
- Idaho County Fair Schedules – This link provides schedules for County Fairs within Idaho as well as many other local festivals – Idaho County Fairs