MISSOULA — Slowly but surely, the Missoula summers we all know and love are coming back to life.
That’s evident here in town at the first farmers' markets of the season where shoppers are looking for goodies.
“Now suddenly with spring coming on and we’re all getting outdoors and getting vaccinated and all that, things are really coming back quite a bit more,” Don Van Nice, owner of Earth Oven Bread, told MTN News.
Missoula is the epicenter for two robust markets on Saturdays throughout the late spring and summer.
With the onset of the COVIID-19 pandemic last year, the markets were subject to health restrictions. This year, with renewed summer action and fewer restrictions, the farmers markets are coming back to life. Certain prepared foods and coffees are allowed back, along with musical performances.
At the Missoula Farmers Market on the north end of Higgins Ave., vendors like Earth Bread Ovens and Old Freight Farm are optimistic about the start to the season.
While the harvest season for many goods is still yet to come, merchants are selling all kinds of products.
“I’m just doing eggs right now and I will later be doing some homemade mayonnaise, and some Greek yogurt, and then later I’ll also have some Iris bulbs for sale,” Brenda Pearce, co-owner of Old Freight Farm said.
Pearce told MTN News she did not sell at farmers' markets last year due to the pandemic but is relishing the return.
“I’ve been doing this on and off for a few years, and it’s just really nice to get out and see the people. You sell your products and you leave with products from everyone else, so it’s really enjoyable,” explained Pearce.
The Clark Fork River Market, located at a new location in Caras Park next to the carousel, bustled with shoppers and vendors Saturday.
Co-founder Drew Holman of Back to the Mother, a Missoula kombucha brewery, said the market is the only way his business is able to sell directly to customers; “That's my favorite way to interact with the public."
Holman says the COVID-19 pandemic affected the business and is looking forward to a shift this summer season.
“We lost a lot of accounts that would serve us, like in restaurants and bars that had to close down, so we lost a lot of our momentum, and we had to find really creative ways to navigate and to stay afloat for sure," he said. "It’s been a challenge.”
Both markets continue certain health restrictions like required face coverings and social distancing, and asking that those who feel ill stay home.