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A produce vendor setting out more grapes at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. → License Photo

I spend a lot of time at farmers’ markets in the summer. It is one of my favorite places to be. There is nothing like fresh vegetables in the summer and a good farmers’ market is the best place to find them.

I once told someone I could be a vegetarian if fresh vegetables were available every day. I would dearly miss steak, and chicken, and seafood…but I could do it. For most of us in Montana and much of the rest of the country that simply is not possible though. And don’t try to tell me produce at the grocery store is fresh. Grocery store lettuce and leafy greens can be two weeks old. Eggs can be 45 days old. Potatoes can be 10 months old. The average age of apple is 12 months old. And the rest of the produce? Well, we Americans have become so accustomed to eating a variety of produce year round and out of season much of it is shipped in from other countries overseas. Anyone who has ever eaten fresh vegetables out of a garden knows the difference. And the difference is huge.

Farmers’ markets in the Midwest generally open in May. Farmers’ markets in Montana (especially northern Montana) don’t open until very late June or the first week in July. But when they do open, people here in Montana hit them with a vengeance.

Another common trait among Montana farmers’ markets is that the vendors are usually dominated by Hutterites selling their produce. For the uninformed, Hutterites are an Anabaptist religious group that believes in an old-fashioned communal way of living similar to Amish and Mennonites. And Hutterites are also very good at growing vegetables. While their produce is local, which is good, they have yet to embrace the four season growing methods first pioneered in Europe and popularized in the United States by Eliot Coleman in Maine. I pray one day the Hutterites and other vegetable growers apply these methods here so the good people of Montana can enjoy fresh vegetables year round.

Bringing my camera with me to farmers’ markets is commonplace. I like making ag related photographs at a good farmers’ market too. It’s one thing to show how food is made, but it’s also nice when I can show the final product. The myriad of vegetables at a farmers’ market offer tantalizing patterns to photograph. And all of the people crammed together offer a great opportunity to practice street photography, too.

Below is a small collection of 20+ photos of farmers’ markets. It is by no means a complete set, but rather a start. I plan to spend much more time at farmers’ markets making photos next summer and expanding this gallery significantly. I hope you enjoy what photos I have added to the gallery so far. And please check back next summer. I’ll be adding more.

Field of Fire
Photos Installed in Helena Office

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