SOMERS – The snow had barely melted on the valley floor last week, revealing agricultural acres covered under feet of snow for months, and the early-spring wind still carried a bit of bite even as winter began to give out.
But in the hoop house at Mountain Kind Farm, just off Highway 82, the air was warm and humid, a sweet preview of warmer weather to come.
Farmer Julia Wycall and her daughter Yve were hard at work planting onions and leeks in preparation for the summer’s harvest, the first for this new little farm in Lower Valley.
The Wycalls – Julia, Ted, and their two daughters, Yve and Cadie – moved to Northwest Montana three years ago after eight years of running a farm in Maryland. It was a lovely life, near the ocean, but despite the incredible vegetable-growing soil, there were restrictions on their abilities to expand.
“We wanted to go somewhere we could do more,” Julia Wycall said.
She pointed to two new red buildings on the property, which her husband Ted built over the summer, and said the red tape in Maryland would’ve added a year and much more money to that project’s bottom line.
One of them will become a storefront for folks to stop by and pick up some fresh, local, organically grown produce. There will also be strawberry and raspberry bushes from which you can pick your own berries.
Mountain Kind Farm also has a farmshare program, one in which members buy in levels: $200, $400, $600, and $800 (Julia said there’s also a $1,000 option if anyone is interested). That money, paid earlier in the year so the farm can use it to purchase what it needs to grow its crops, will be placed on a gift card and be available for use at their storefront and at the farmers markets.
Anyone who participates in this program receives a 15 percent discount on their produce as well.
“You don’t have to stick to a certain amount, or take just what we give you,” Julia said. “You can get what you want and need and as much as you need.”
It’s an exciting start to the season for the Wycalls, who, like many in the Flathead Valley, are ready for winter to loosen its grip and spring to take over for a while. Before long, it’ll be summer time, with farmers markets, harvests, live music plinking into the evening light, and communities mingling together over local produce.
Bigfork will have a new farmers market this year, called the Bigfork Village Market, hosted each Monday evening at Brookside Yard near the Swan River. Starting at 3 p.m., there will be free yoga on the lawn, and then food and vendors are ready to go by 4 p.m. The market runs through 7 p.m., with live music from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“Bigfork as a community doesn’t have great access to local organically grown food,” Jenny Rogers, market organizer, said. “We’ve got lots of super cool growers and vendors interested.”
Every other week, the night market will host an educational speaker series after 7 p.m., touching on important local issues, such as wildfire, the work the biostation does on Flathead Lake, avalanche awareness, and sustainability.
Rogers said a meeting on April 5 will determine if the Monday market will be the CSA drop off and pick up for Bigfork members. CSAs are “community-supported agriculture,” meaning folks purchased shares in a farm and have weekly harvests to enjoy throughout the season.
The Bigfork Village Market will run from May 21 to Sept. 17.
Farmers markets are common and enjoyable in the Flathead, and often serve as CSA pick-up sites for their neighbors.
The Kalispell Farmers Market starts up May 5 at Flathead Valley Community College, and continues each Saturday until Oct. 13.
In Whitefish, head to the north end of Central Avenue every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., starting May 29. The market runs until Sept. 25.
The Columbia Falls Community Market will begin rocking every Thursday from May 17 to Sept. 27. The Columbia Falls Farmers Market takes place Mondays, beginning May 15 in Marantette Park. In West Glacier, the Glacier Farmers Market begins Friday, June 8, and runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Northwest Montana Farmers Markets
Mondays: Bigfork Village Market, 4-7 p.m.; www.bigforkmarket.org
Columbia Falls Farmers Market; www.columbiafallsfarmersmarket.com
Tuesdays: Whitefish Farmers Market, 5-7:30 p.m.; www.whitefishfarmersmarket.org
Bigfork Farmers Market, 3-6 p.m.; bigforkfarmersmarket.com
Wednesdays: Trout Creek Farmers Market (opens July 11); www.facebook.com/troutcreekfarmersmarket
Thursdays: Columbia Falls Community Market, 5-7:30 p.m.; www.cfcommunitymarket.com
Eureka Farmers Market; (first and third Thursdays); www.facebook.com/eurekamofarmersmarket
Libby Farmers Market; www.facebook.com/libbyfarmersmarket
Fridays: Polson Farmers Market, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.; www.polsonfarmersmarket.com
Bigfork Farmers Market, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.; bigforkfarmersmarket.com
West Glacier Farmers Market, 3-6 p.m.; www.facebook.com/glacierfarmersmarket
Saturdays: Plains-Paradise Farmers Market, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.; www.sanderscounty.org/farmers-markets
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