There were 9 vendors today, who all sell food. That is one of the market rules. Vendors who sell non-food items are sent over to the Florence Farmers Market, where they are welcomed with open arms. So there is something for everyone in Florence.
Since Caffe Firenze sponsors the NBVFM, there are no fees for vendors. I think this is a good policy for first-year markets since customers are just learning they can shop there and might not show up in large numbers to buy the goods. Of course not every market can afford to give away free space -- often there's market advertising and insurance to pay for -- but I'm sure vendors appreciate any breaks they can get.
The young gal selling huckleberry slushies and play dough certainly invested minimally in her booth signage but obviously put a lot of heart and talent into it. Here's a look at the other sign she created.
Next to her was market manager Suzanne Winegart's booth. Suzanne also has a booth at the Clark Fork market in Missoula, so she's had some experience with signs.
Sisters in Raw didn't put much artist fervor into their sign, but they more than made up for that with the imagination in their foods. Calling raw food the "ultimate fast food," they admitted that even they don't eat 100% raw. But if I could eat their cinnamon rolls every day (made from almonds, dates, coconut milk, and cashews among other lovely things), I'd consider it.
The following colorful sign was created by Hank and Edith Timm, who actually grow fruit, pesticide-free at that, in Montana: apples, peaches, plums, and pears in season. Hank explained to me that apples were a huge production in the early 1900s there in the Bitterroot Valley. But then Washington State farmers started into business and that ended that. So stock up when you visit Florence.
And saving the best for last is a table display by a woman who said this was only her second year gardening and her first selling at a market. But since she is a florist by trade, setting out the produce turned into a work of art. I couldn't capture the entire array, but I highly recommend you visit to see her wondrous still life in person.
Now I'll briefly describe the other market in the area, the Florence Farmers Market, also in its first year. Signs weren't the highlight of this market, which is located in a field -- as far as I know unique in Montana for that type of location, but no big deal to anyone who lives near ranches.
There was some good produce, but mostly there was a wide assortment of items by talented craftpeople. This market is about a mile south of the NBVFM, so be sure to stop in at both when you're in the area.
North Bitterroot Valley Farmers Market
Caffe Firenze, at Highway 93 and Eastside Highway
June 5 - mid-October
Saturday, 8:30 am - noon
Florence Farmers Market
5189 Highway 93 South
May 1 - October 2
Saturday, 8:30 am - 1 pm