Thursday, August 7, 2014

Awesome Huntley farmers market

You rarely read a bad word here about a farmers market. I get so excited to be at one, I can hardly see anything wrong with it.

But every once in a while I find one that is really outstanding, even better than the other great Montana markets.

That was the case with the Huntley farmers market today.

For one thing, look at the photo above: this family provided homemade cookies and refreshing lemonade (pink and "regular") and seved it with big smiles. Aren't those smiles alone worth a million bucks?

It was a hot afternoon, so I also sampled the ice tea from another vendor, who was raising money for a school trip to Washington, D.C. Her brother was "just helping out," but he couldn't help smiling as if he were going on the trip, too.

Huntley is part of the Huntley Project, a valley area that also includes the towns of Ballantine, Pompeys Pillar, and Worden. In 1907 the US Bureau of Reclamation created the first and most successful irrigation project, which took water from the Yellowstone River and distributed it throughout the valley via canals.

I didn't ask, but I wonder if this is why there were so many vegetables at this small market, with its 20 vendors today. I especially liked the heirloom varieties, which you often see at farmers markets. These are lemon cucumbers (left) and Boothby's Blonde cucumbers. Very tasty.

The vendor above told me he was being assisted by his "great" great grandson, who also helps tend the garden.

I chatted with David for a bit, who proudly described the care he puts into creating sturdy and decorative boxes and who also has time to grown onions. He said he likes to garden but has decided that onions are fairly easy to grow and popular with customers, so he specializes in them.

At the next table was Dave, who has a passion for jerky. If you eat his, you will, too. After sampling and learning about all the work that goes into producing the jerky, I had to buy some. It takes 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of meat (the leaner the better; Dave uses London broil) to produce 1 pound of jerky. Plus, you have to keep the meat from drying out too much and being too salty. Dave's is moist yet chewy. Dave says it's a hobby for him, that he loves selling his jerky at the market "to see people smile."

Of course there were baked goods, too.

And lots of lovely canned goods. This vendor told me that tourists passing through are great customers, with the pickles being the most popular purchase. Some folks call ahead if they can and ask for their favorites to be set aside. There are a lot of canned goods in this photo, but they will likely all be sold by the end of the evening.

And something you rarely see at farmers markets: catnip. I was told it also makes a soothing tea to help human go to sleep. Funny how it has the opposite effect on cats.

So now I hope you can see why I enjoyed this market so much. Why not stop by and meet these folks yourself?

Huntley Farmers Market
Barkemeyer Park,  Northern Ave.
July - September
Thursdays, 4 pm - 7 pm

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