Hamilton Farmers Market Keeps Growing
It's a local success story that keeps on succeeding. The Hamilton Farmers Market started as a Ravalli County Museum offshoot in 1992, with vendors renting spaces on Bedford Street and South 3rd Street in front of the museum on Saturday mornings in the summer. The operation became a separate cooperative in 2007 with many of the local farmers and artisans as members, electing a board of directors.
The Hamilton Farmers Market Cooperative has become a stable weekend business, with an estimated $450,000 in economic activity each year, according to co-op statistics. The growth has required the organization to add to their staff. They recently hired Terri Frost to manage the daily operation of the market, joining Laura Craig, who will handle the bookkeeping and administrative duties. Frost has been a vendor at the market for many years - first as an artist and most recently offering agricultural products. Frost told KLYQ that she liked the group's rule that only Ravalli County items and non-GMO produce can be sold at the Saturday morning gatherings. And the market has expanded beyond the summer months - from April into October. With a different musical group each weekend and free Ravalli County Museum kids activities, many families start their Bitterroot weekend at the market.
The farmers market experience is happening throughout the valley, with markets in Hamilton, Stevensville, Darby and Florence. Nationally, the Farm to Table movement has added to the popularity of the weekly markets.