In its brief existence, this column has yet to acknowledge the existence of any farmers market other than Missoula’s two big Saturday farmers markets. No more. I may be captive to my habits, but trust me, you want to be free of those.
From Darby to Kalispell, western Montana is peppered with these festive and biodegradable centers of agricultural commerce. And here in Missoula, there are three markets that happen on days that don’t begin with Satur.
The Target Range farmers market is open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., while the Orchard Homes market runs Thursday afternoons from 4:30 to 7 p.m. And on Tuesday evenings from 5 to 7 p.m., the original Missoula Farmers Market at the north end of Higgins opens for an evening session. These mid-week markets allow farmers to harvest and distribute the produce their plants pump out all week long, while giving shoppers a chance to buy produce in a more relaxed setting than what they find on Saturday, when even the calmer of the two markets is getting crowded.
Over the next few weeks, I hope to file reports from these under-noted Missoula markets. And who knows? I hear great things about Hamilton and Polson, too. Of course, the farther afield one goes, the less about food shopping — and the more about tourism — a trip to the market becomes. Which is just fine. It’s pretty much the best kind of tourism there is, IMO.
So, in what may be my final lap around the Saturday market vortex for a while, I paid a visit to Missoula’s original market near the XXXXs. I was expecting to ease into the morning lazily, waking up as I went, but I found the market busier than I’ve seen it in years.
There was accordion music at one end and a blues band at the other, the aisles were crowded, and the offerings ticked all the boxes of a growing season in full swing: corn, melons and tomatoes galore. Amid this bursting abundance, huckleberry volume is unusually low. This year will be a total bust for peaches, since Paradise’s Forbidden Fruit got its peach flowers frozen this spring. But there are other sweet fruits of the earth to enjoy, like blueberries, cherries and the aforementioned melons. Meanwhile, morel season is hanging on, with some of the biggest specimens I’ve seen all season. And the peppers are finally coming on strong, including jalapeños, cherry bombs, Corno di Toro, pasillas and others. In case you hadn’t noticed, summer is here.
If you have tips on local markets worth covering, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.