Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Signs of the Livingston market

One of the fun things of visiting a farmers market is looking at the signs. Here are a few I saw today at the Livingston farmers market.

As you can see from the last two signs, this market encourages children to participate, which adds to the variety. Trust me, the Geography Quiz is not easy.

Livingston Farmers Market
Sacajawea Park bandshell
June 3 - September 23
Wednesday, 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Virginia City farmers market

Most folks visit Virginia City to ride the stagecoach, explore Boot Hill, and stroll down a street that was once crowded with gold miners in and out of luck.

But I recommend that you plan to be there on the second or fourth Saturday of the month so you can enjoy the tiny but vibrant farmers market.

Even this early in June you'll find bursting bags of salad greens, kale, spinach, and herbs, and, if you're lucky, a large bouquet of rhubarb fresh from the garden.

There are scones and cookies, perhaps a pie, along with handmade jams like the intriguing and tasty garlic and onion.

But best of all are the round loaves of crusty bread baked in a brick oven: a plain boule, a sweet variety, and an amazing herb loaf.

Don't miss this cornucopia of delights. I'm betting the ghosts of the town wish they could still enjoy these earthly pleasures.

Virginia City Artisans and Growers Guild Farmers Market
Log Schoolhouse at end of town, across from Opera House
May 23 - September 5
2nd & 4th Saturday, 11 am - 5 pm

Twin Bridges farmers market

Vegetables will be arriving soon at the Twin Bridges farmers market, but meanwhile enjoy handspun alpaca yarn (shown above) and lovely handmade soap.

Soapmaker Jen assured me her soaps are good for the skin, softening as they clean, and infused with good things. She picks her own huckleberries, for example, then adds the puree to the soap base. The rose soap contains bits of wild rosehips Jen gathers and is decorated with a dusting of crushed rosehips and petals, giving it an old-fashioned flair.

Twin Bridges is a center for fishing in the Jefferson Valley, and those on their way to the river would be well advised to grab a few snacks. Perhaps a delicious sweet loaf (choose from rhubarb, strawberry-banana, apricot-orange) in miniature or full loaves.

Or how about a hearty bagel. I bought only one garlic-and-onion bagel to enjoy on the road. I should have gotten the baker's dozen, which might have included cinnamon-raisin or the aptly named "zinger" (jalapeƱo). Or maybe not. I bet they are habit-forming.

Twin Bridges Farmers Market
Main St. Park
May 2 - September 26
Saturday, 9 am - noon

Whitehall farmers market

June farmers markets often include a handy selection of plants to add to your garden. These are generally lush and well adapted to the local environment. Anyone who gardens in Montana knows that is a big plus. Not every plant a gardener longs to grow here will survive -- or come to full flower -- in the short hot summer.

As I keep pointing out, the grower is right there at the farmers market, so be sure to ask questions.

Backyard Artistic Impressions had a lovely booth. Take your pick: seeds, flowers, or art for the garden.

At any market, you can also find a lot of baked goods right from the start of the season. Whitehall had plenty today, and the bakers plan to be around until October.

Here's Sonja happily waiting for a customer to make up her mind. Mini angel food cake? Apple turnovers? Carrot cake?

I spent some time chatting with young entrepreneur Rebecca, who has been at the market for 6 years. Currently she is selling products she makes and uses herself: lip balm, lotions, and mixed essential oils that soothe or invigorate.

Whitehall is a small market but with a good selection of food items and crafts. Produce will appear soon.

Whitehall Farmers and Crafter Market
Legion St. Park
June 6 - October 3
Saturday, 9 am - 1 pm

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ennis farmers market bounty

After a long, cold Montana winter, any sign of spring is a welcome one.

Today the Madison Farm to Fork Farmers Market in Ennis offered up the green bounty of spring, promises of much more to come.

The market is located in a parklike area, a big improvement over the cement of previous years. It's cooler and a lot more pleasant to stroll on grass beneath shady trees.

But best of all are the offerings of farmers, bakers, and artists. You'll have to visit to see it all. Today I enjoyed looking at stunning woodwork by Paul Smail, who creates custom furniture. I know I'm supposed to get photos of great things like this so blog readers can get in on the joy, but somehow I was so overcome by Paul's handcrafted tables that I completely forgot to take out my camera. When you visit the market, make a beeline for his display and see for yourself. Paul's work will assure you that fine craftsmanship still exists.

I did get photos of food. Of course.

Plant starts of all types provide an opportunity for anyone to have fresh food at home. Everyone has room for herbs.

But if you just want to get food ready to be prepared for dinner tonight, there were several farmers already laying out a wide selection of vegetables. The mother and daughter team from Pony offered radishes, kale, bok choy, herbs, and a whole lot more. See their photo above. Those smiles are genuine -- they love what they do. Daughter Izzy bakes, too.

More treats were on offer from Amanda of Varney Bridge Bakery. She's been at the market for several years and keeps getting better with artisan breads, scones, sausage rolls, and more. Here you see what she described as an Icelandic Christmas treat, large meringues stuffed with cornflakes and chocolate chips.

In my opinion, the best sign of spring in Montana is rhubarb. You'll see it in almost every garden. The soil in the Madison Valley must be spectacular, because this bunch of rhubarb was huge. Plenty to use righta way and then freeze for later.

Farmers markets are now springing up like crazy throughout Montana and other areas of the country. Forget about the supermarket produce section; the weeks-old same old same old will be for sale there in winter. Right now, grab something fresh, and maybe something you've never seen before, from a local farmer.

Hwy 287, N of downtown, between Sportsman's Lodge & Madison Foods
May 23 - September 5
Saturday, 9 am - noon