Winter Farmers’ Market

As summer tans fade and sun streaked hair darkens, backyard gardens are depleted, most resign themselves to frozen, canned, or foreign grown produce to sustain them through the long, cold Montana winter, but fresh locally grown produce is not a distant memory. The Winter Farmers’ Market offers an extensive array of farm fresh produce throughout the winter to satisfy those cravings.
“Now entering its third season, the Bozeman Winter Farmers’ Market grew from the demand for a direct producer-to-consumer experience beyond the traditional summer market season, as well as an abundance of offerings from local farmers and producers reaching well into the winter, and replenishing in the spring.” (

The produce, organic goat cheese, grassfed meats, handmade garden tools, jams & preserves, grains & oils come from farms in and around the Gallatin Valley. By shopping at the Winter Farmers’ Market, you are supporting local growers and getting product straight from the field to your table. The market allows consumers to meet and talk to the growers directly, join email lists and even ask about purchasing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares.

The atmosphere is set for autumn, with music quietly playing in the background, tables adorned with deep purple cloths and LED tealight candles offer a place to sit and enjoy fresh made treats including artisan breads, or the featured warm daily special, made to order from Claudia’s Mesa. A myriad of colors adorn the tables, sagging with the heaping piles of zucchini, ranging in size from tiny to gigantic, red, yellow, and black cherry tomatoes, beets, cabbage, collards, onions, melons, and more. The warm air is filled with the scent of warm bread, flowers, and herbs, such as basil, garlic, parsley, and fennel. Taste the flavor of the grassfed meats, salsas, breads and sample lotions and oils before you make your purchases.

Savor old favorites, like beans, squash, and spinach, or discover new vegetables, such as romanesco, a blend of broccoli and cauliflower, shaped like a pointed head of cauliflower but with a little green and purple tipped tight broccoli-like flowerets.

Bear Squares owner, Kurt Brachwitz, shared the evolution of the traditional Swiss family recipe he uses to create dense cookie bars flavored with almonds and honey. As a child Kurt remembers ‘helping’ his grandmother bake. Those treasured memories inspired his desire to share the flavors of his childhood with others. He began selling them under the original Swiss name leckerli, but the pronunciation proved challenging for customers. His family lived in Berne, Switzerland, which is known as “the city of bears” and the cookie bars are cut into squares, thus, the name became Bear Squares to honor his heritage and the root of the delicious confections. Samples are available at the market, though the cookies can be found at retail locations throughout the Gallatin Valley.
From the Bozeman Farmers’ Market website, “New this season: the market is now gladly accepting credit, debit and SNAP cards! Shoppers can bring their cards to the transaction terminal and receive tokens to use while making purchases. Shoppers may bring back unused tokens, and those funds will be refunded to their cards. Vendors have been supplied with a manual, and will receive training, on the acceptance of credit/debit tokens, which will be treated just like cash, and SNAP tokens, which may be used to purchase eligible food items. Did you know that you may also use SNAP benefits to purchase plants and seeds for food? We’re excited to facilitate access to fresh, local, healthy food for members of our community participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Market goers are, of course, welcome to use cash and check for purchases as usual. This new project was made possible by a grant from the Alternative Energy Resources Organization, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and the Montana Department of Health & Human Services, as well as a 4% Day Grant from the Community Food Co-op.”

With more ways to purchase the market organizers are allowing more residents the opportunity to purchase fresh, local produce and provide healthier meals for their families.
Bozeman Winter Farmers’ Market 2010-2011 will be held at the Emerson Center Ballroom from 9:00 am to noon on Nov. 6 & 20, Jan. 8 & 22, Feb. 5 & 19, March 5 & 19, April 2 & 16.
For more information about the market and other local food news and events, stop by the market at the Emerson Center in downtown Bozeman, two Saturday’s a month or visit

Lee Strickler is a freelance writer and network marketing professional, working on her MFA in Creative Writing through the University of New Orleans, residing in Bozeman with her family.