The Bitterroot Valley is known as the banana belt but gardens here produce nearly everything but bananas.
Nearly each community has a farmer's market featuring fresh fruits, vegetables, Montana made items, local treasures and unique products.
Just south of Florence the HAAS Country Market is open and selling local produce, baked goods and Montana crafts from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., each Saturday through September.
Gary Haas said this is his ninth year in business.
“We have 57 vendor spaces, about 40 parking spaces and on-site porta potties so you don’t need to look for a potty,” Haas said. “We have highway frontage, turning lanes and we’re on grass not asphalt or cement. We usually have a nice breeze. We have good signage and are getting better signage.”
For sale are Montana made or grown products like hand crafted items, jewelry, vegetables, fruits, plants and wood products like benches and bird houses. There is locally produced honey, baked goods and home-canned goods like pickled beets, jams and jellies.
Haas said the produce is picked fresh that morning from his garden and greenhouse just west of the market.
“We are able to grow the sweet corn and when it is ready the people are there an hour early and they fight over it,” he said. “It’s hard when they want six dozen ears at a time but we’re expanding.”
The HAAS Country Market is locally owned and operated. It is on the Montana Department of Agriculture Farmer’s Markets website agr.mt.gov/Farmers-Markets.
An easy to spot large red camper with black polka dots is parked at the market.
“Ladybug Treasures is what my wife calls her homemade crafts - cross-stitch, crochet, macramé and my daughter makes reusable shopping bags recycled from old feed bags,” Haas said. “Just look for the giant ladybug trailer.”
Haas also owns Big Sky Beatle works and uses the ladybug camper as a landmark for that as well.
“The nice thing about our market is it is comfortable, easily accessible and friendly,” Gary Haas said. “It’s a country market, there is plenty of space for people to spread out. We have room for everyone and new vendors are always welcome.”
You can find the HAAS Country on the west side in Florence, at 5189 U.S. Highway 93 South, 1.4 miles south of the traffic light and 200 feet north of Sweeny Creek Road.
To be a vendor at the market call Gary Haas at 406-777-3638 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stevensville Farmers and Craft Market with fresh eggs, produce, baked goods and crafts runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., each Saturday through mid-October on West Third Street next to Valley Drug.
Stacie Barker in her fifth year as market manager said the market started behind Rocky Mountain Bank with six vendors and has expanded to 25-30 vendors.
Missoula Grains and Organics and West Naturals sell produce plus there are local crafters, jams and jellies.
“Elsie Decker also known as the ‘Apron Lady’ has been with us quite some time,” Barker said. “She makes jams and jellies. She does a lot of sewing and makes aprons in the area. She still take special orders for little aprons.”
Barker’s business is Dazzling Designs featuring earrings, necklaces and small jewelry.
“Something that everyone can take home as a nice little Montana made gift,” she said. “The market has Montana made and locally grown items. We don’t have any home-based businesses and it has been very successful doing it that way.”
Barker said the Stevensville Farmers and Craft Market has grown. The market meeting in April that usually averaged 10 had a full room of vendors this year.
“I could feel my heart beating faster and faster as I realized ‘oh, my gosh, we’re going to have a full market,’” Barker said. “I have 42 spaces that are 12 foot by 12 foot and when they are filled we’re full. We have an amazing group.”
Vendors who participate weekly include Turner family - Patisserie Le'Root; Tamara Sylvester - fresh flowers; Susan Nelson - Nelson's Blossom Buzz Honey; Chris Kelly- Prairie Chick Designs; Bill Kelly - KGS Jewelry; Paul Sichula- Wood Guy Valley Board & Beam; Barrett Turkington- Missoula Grain Vegetable Company; Amanda Prime - Runa's Den; Louise Smith - Painted Rocks; Silvia Allen – Alpenstueble (The Bretzel Factory); West Family -West Naturals; Rebecca Richter - Pure Food Healing; Kim French -Gia's Garden; Thurman Family - baked goods; John Stroud - Johnny Bitterroot (free Bitterroot flower seeds); Galloway Family - Hillside Micro Farms & Baked Goods; Tawnya Luce – jams, baked goods and gluten free items; Ella Wothe - local artist; JoAnn McKee - Jo Jo's Closet; Rachelle and Leslie Fournier (sisters)- Fournier Soaps; Tom and Laurie Mahar - Log Jam Furniture; Mary Germane - Mary Germane Photography; Alice Hren - crochet and handmade lap blankets; Lisa Malachinski - handmade greeting cards; and Sonny's Original Cheesesteaks (also in Stevensville on Thursdays).
“I do have a list of about 12 vendors who come to market randomly,” Barker said.
Although market attendance depends on the weather, nearly 400 customers visit the market each Saturday and that number is growing as word spreads. No dogs are allowed at the Stevensville Harvest Valley Farmers Market area for the safety of customers and vendors. Robert Myers plays music.
For more information contact Barker at 406-381-6145, email@example.com or Facebook.
Hamilton Farmers Market is open 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., on Saturdays through Oct. 27, on Bedford, Second and Third Streets in Hamilton. The market has served the Bitterroot for 26 years offering products, produce, crafts and services. For more information contact Laura Craig, market manager, at 406-961-0004, firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the Facebook page, or hamiltonfarmersmarket.org.
Bitterroot’s Weekday Farmers Market is from 4:30 until 6:30 p.m., every Wednesday afternoon through Sept. 26, at The O’Hara Commons, 111 South 4th Street in Hamilton.
It has a relaxed atmosphere for midweek shopping of fresh produce, flowers, cheese, baked goods, kombucha, free taste tests and recipes highlighting local foods. Some vendors come from Salmon to participate in this market. For more information visit online www.theoharacommons.org.
The town of Darby hosts their Farmers Market at Main Street Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., every Tuesday. Each vendor pays $5 and the proceeds go to support the Darby Pioneer Memorial Museum. Vendors sell vegetables, bead jewelry, doll clothing, fresh-baked bread, honey, cookies, jams, flowers and plants.