Saturday, September 12, 2009

last 3 markets

I'm finished! Well, almost . . . There are 2 more markets I'd like to get to if it isn't too late in the season, but today pretty much wraps up my long journey to visit every farmers market in Montana.

Plains Paradise market

Plains and Paradise are two different towns, but each are pretty small: Plains -- originally called Wild Horse -- with a population of about 1200, and Paradise with a population of about 200.  So when they can, they combine events, including the farmers market.

This is a small market, and of course even smaller at the end of the growing season. There were a few vegetables and a couple of crafts.

So it wasn't a very exciting market today, but of course I'm glad I was there. Yesterday I passed through Plains and ate a delicious buffalo hot dog at a roadside stand. I was joined by Ned (from Virginia) and Dudley (from Ohio), two brothers who might have been the proprietors of the Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast. They were studying geology as they traveled through Montana, and were amusing lunch companions.

Thompson Falls market

Katrina Wright started this market two years ago and was the very first market manager to request her market be listed on Yummy Northwest. (Before that, I was gathering information the best I could.) She is highly thought of among the vendors, many of whom told me Katrina goes beyond the call of duty to make sure the market is advertised and running smoothly.

I would have liked to meet her, so it was unfortunate for me that Katrina was in Colorado this weekend, happily planning her wedding. But at least I got to finally visit the market!

I was told there is usually music, which would have made the morning even more pleasant, cool and shady as it was.

I enjoyed chatting with some Friends of the Library, who were selling cookbooks and hosting a storyteller who was busy making balloon animals. Scones, jellies, handmade items, and plenty of produce were available. One vendor had a clever sales gimmick: her corn was 25 cents each. That comes to $3/dozen, which is an average price across the state, but who could resist getting anything for a quarter!

I wasn't able to get any photos, but right before you enter Thompson Falls from the east, you drive through an area where bighorn sheep cross the road. There is a bighorn sheep viewing area right next to the highway that describes their habitat. I saw 3 in the road, but a friend of mine said she'd once counted 50 on her journey. Any way you count them, it is exciting.

Noxon market

The drive from Thompson Falls to Noxon is one of the most beautiful in the state. There is something about the trees here that makes your heart soar with delight. The town is 15 miles east of the Idaho border, and it would be well worth going on to the resort town of Sandpoint just to see more of this road.

Noxon has about 250 people. This year the farmers market is a few miles out of town, on the highway, at a thrift store that normally sees a lot of weekend business. There are usually about 5 vendors, but today -- alas! -- there were only two filled tables: vegetables by a stalwart gardener and a bake sale for the local Catholic church.

Still, I felt elated to have arrived -- my last market! I celebrated by buying some pastries.

Noxon Farm and Craft Market
Highway 200, past Noxon turnoff 
June - October
Saturday, 10 am - 2 pm

Plains Paradise Farmers Market
Wild Horse Elementary School
June 13 - end of September
Saturday, 9 am - noon

Thompson Falls Market
West lot of the Falls Motel
June 27 - September 26
Saturday, 9 am - 1 pm

Friday, September 11, 2009

Polson market

This is a market with a view! 

The first photo above is Flathead Lake taken from the balcony of my Polson hotel. The one below it shows the lake from the market location. You can't see the lake very well in the photo, but it is a relaxing sight as you shop.

Otherwise, this is a typical small-town market, with a variety of produce, chocolates, some crafts, including soap, and a pretty nice selection of baked goods. If you want a loaf of bread that tastes like a lovely slice of cake (without all the sweetness), buy some from the Farmer Brown's gals. Yum!

Polson Farmers Market
Masonic Temple parking lot, 1102 4th Avenue East 
mid-May - mid-October
Friday, 9 am - 1 pm

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Columbia Falls market

Columbia Falls has a large, happy market. There are two grassy areas, each with its own music stage. People really enjoy this community experience, as evidenced by children dancing, plates piled high with food on picnic tables, and a general sense of fun and well-being.

While you are buying your produce, you can learn to make lotus blossoms.

It's easy to spend the whole evening at this friendly market.

Columbia Falls Market
Glacier Discovery Square
June 18 - September 17
Thursday, 5pm - 7:30 pm

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lifeline Farm

I enjoy drinking milk, and here in Montana Lifeline Farm non-homogenized milk is my favorite. So it was quite a treat to visit their farm in Victor and chat with Jennifer. 

She spends most of her day milking, from 6 am to about 10 am, and from 6 pm to about 10 pm. She's also raising two cute kids and taking care of all the other farm chores that involve chickens and pigs as well as the dairy cattle.

We chatted about the dairy business in Montana because I'm on a quest to learn all I can about it. You naturally think of beef cattle in Montana, but there are also a few small dairies, which struggle under the burden of changing legislation.

Lifeline Farm is doing well with its milk products, which include butter and a variety of cheeses. I was thrilled with their brie; my friend Kimberlee exclaimed when she tasted it: "Is it butter? Or is it cheese?" Indeed!

Lucky people in the Bitterroot Valley can shop at the farm's store in Victor, but their products are available throughout the state.

My favorite part of the visit was tasting warm milk from the pasteurization machine that was churning next to the milking area.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Darby market

Darby is a small town in the Bitterroot Valley, south of Missoula. It's a perfect base for camping or fishing, and its Old West facade makes shopping enjoyable. Stroll down those wooden sidewalks and recall the not-so-distant past.

The Darby farmers market is on the main street in a park tucked in next to the museum. It's a charming and tranquil location.

You'll find the usual local vegetables.

There are also crafts -- I thought the children's clothes adorable, particularly the old-fashioned sunbonnets that I was told come in all sizes and are quite popular.

At many markets you'll find local entertainment, and here in Darby Bachelor Bob filled the air with country-western tunes. There weren't many people around, but I felt it would be the perfect place to dance under the trees.

Bachelor Bob said he likes singing at farmers markets, as a sort of community support for the folks who work so hard to feed us. He also sings in local venues. He is quite the showman.

Darby Farmers Market
Main Street Park
May 12 - October 13
Tuesday, 3 pm - 7 pm

Monday, September 7, 2009

Keeping looking up . . . in Kalispell

I'm taking a little rest from my farmers market travels and thought I'd share some photos I took in Kalispell.

Kalispell is not my favorite place (the traffic is awful), but it has a charming tree-lined residential area and, as you will see here, plenty of interesting things way up high.

Just walking along the main street, I saw the following. This first photo is what I saw when I looked up while I was walking under a store awning. Isn't it pretty what you can do with tin?

So now you see why I complain about the traffic. If people drove more slowly, you could see more of these fun works of art from your car.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bigfork and Kalispell markets

The Kalispell market opens with the ringing of a cowbell. About a hundred vendors are ready to sell their vegetables, honey, jewelry, and crafts and whatever else creativity has wrought.

Here are some photos to show you what I saw.

A reporter from the Kalispell Daily Inter Lake was writing a story about the market. She wasn't the least bit interested in what I am doing, but I learned a few photography tips from her.

And then there was Mary. I couldn't help but notice her hat. This 89-year-old works in her garden and comes to market and really is a delightful person to talk to. Her hat is covered with material from a dress she bought in Hawaii but felt was too bright to wear around town. It is trimmed with flowers from weddings and other special occasions in her life.

The Bigfork market is much smaller -- less than 10 vendors today -- but there is quite a variety of produce. The eggplants caught my eye and I learned that freshly picked young ones are not bitter and do well in stir-fries. They take on the flavors of things they are cooked with.

Bigfork Farmers Market
Bigfork High School parking lot
May 16 - October 17
Saturday, 10 am - 2 pm

Kalispell Farmers Market
Kalispell Center Mall, Center Street and 5th Avenue
April 18 - October 17
Saturday 9 am - noon