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Early vegetable yield sells well at Jocko Valley Farmers Market

David Wolverton quickly sold out of tomatoes at the Jocko Valley Farmers Market outside of Hanging Art Gallery last week.

“People get crafty,” he said of the early vegetable yield at the market. “I can get tomatoes coming early in the season and keep them producing clear into November.”

The trick to his early yield was giving seedlings time in the bathroom.

“I start the seeds in a spare bathroom in my house,” he said. 

Taste was the reason he started growing tomatoes a few years ago. Bumper crops prompted him to share with friends, but before he knew it, he was buying a scale and sharing with everyone for a little cash at the market. This year’s market is doing well.

“We are already ahead compared to last year,” he said

Sprouting seeds indoors while the snow is still on the ground is a trick many farmers use to get an early yield. Lucy Mohler of Emmanuel Produce said she and her husband started seedlings in the basement.

“We moved them to the greenhouse from the basement,” she said of the seedlings.

Kathee Dunham owner of Sophie’s Farm and Orchard brought her kale, beats, peas and radishes to the market. She said a group riding on bicycles from Iowa to San Francisco stopped to help farm the vegetables in exchange for room and board.

“It’s a group effort,” she said of her organic produce.

Aprons, blankets, flowers and assorted breads were set up in stands alongside vegetable venders. Over the past few years, Roy Mills has been doing so well selling his artisan bread at the market that he is hoping to expand into his own bread shop. He makes everything from pastries named after a sasquatch’s toes to hollowed out bread bowls. When he isn’t making bread, he says he is pondering bread.

“I think about what else I can do with bread,” he said.

Judy Hirshberg, 6, enjoyed a dinner served by the Arlee Elite Girls Basketball team at the market. While eating, Judy watched her dad Larry Hirshberg provide musical entertainment under the newly built outdoor stage.

“Talking to people,” she said was a fun thing to do at the market.

Arlee Community Development Corporation President Donna Mollica said the stage was built in the corner of the market to give people a covered place to perform. She said the CDC continues to develop new things for the community.

“You have to keep pushing forward to survive in a small town,” she said.

The volunteer crew building the stage found a bit of luck while breaking ground on the project.

“Horseshoes were found in the ground,” Matt Brown said. The horseshoes were nailed upright to the side of the structure to keep the luck from pouring out. Brown says his musical group Sho Down plans to perform under the new stage on July 11 to generate funds for the building project.

“We built it on credit,” he said. 

Playwright William Yellow Robe stopped by to buy vegetables at the market and listen to the entertainment. He hopes to use the stage for plays this fall. He is working on the first inner tribal playwright center at the Hangin Art Gallery. 

“I’m hoping to get a lot of people involved,” he said, “a lot of native people that want to write and to share their stories, but it is very inclusive. Anyone in the community that wants to write is welcome.”

The market is open every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. through September. Dinner and music information for the week can be found on the Arlee Community Development Corporation’s Facebook page.

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