Edible Bozeman

At 6:15 a.m. my eyes flutter open to birdsong and the blue glow of dawn. It’s Saturday: Market Day. I look out the window and see my parents’ light glowing across the farm. Dad has already loaded his truck, and Mom’s feeding her chickens. I need to hustle. Outside, my own flock begs loudly to be set free from the coop. They pile forth in a disorderly tangle of legs and feathers. A Silkie hen trails behind with our pug, Luna, as I gather buckets of tulips and ranunculus from the cooler.

Once the van is crammed full of flowers, I grab a slice of my latest sourdough experiment and set off. The sun rolls over the Crazy Mountains, igniting the Bridgers in electric pink as I climb over Battle Ridge. Th e road winds through pine trees and meadows, clearing my mind before the coming rush.

In the parking lot, people tug carts and carry vegetables in the warm sunlight. I park next to my parents’ truck and help unload box upon box of flour, grains, and honey, then the buckets of flowers. Vendors scurry about the market in the last minutes before the bell. Then finally, it is time.

The band starts to play and people fill the empty spaces, making the market a vivid, tangible bustle of life. Small dogs peek out of backpacks and little children home in on bright colors and pleasing textures. A curly haired girl reaches up for a bag of chickpeas. Her mother asks her to put them in their market bag. The girl obliges reluctantly as her mama pays and asks about cooking instructions. I catch the little one’s attention and give her a tulip’s side shoot. The stem is too runty for a bouquet and is grateful to be placed in the hand of an appreciative toddler.

A young man asks about baking with whole grains, and I say it requires patience and an openness to flavor in your bread. “The extra nutrients bring subtle new flavors like warm popcorn, sweet marshmallow, and cool earthiness.” His petulant friend quizzes me on our farming practices, then asks why I grow flowers, too, if I’m so obsessed with health and nutrition.

I’m ready for the predictable question, and reply, “Being in the presence of flowers helps your body create chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, and they lower stress.” Before he can respond, two ladies hover toward the flowers. Their soft murmuring cements my point, and we all relax.

Local chefs stop and recount their latest flavorful schemes. Our mouths water as they explain new menus crafted with our products. Next, a woman buys honey and asks if she can find any dairy products at the market. Her family has made a commitment to eat within 50 miles of home for the next six months. We send her down the aisle toward local cheese.

When an older gentleman asks for a definition of regenerative agriculture, my dad replies in his 1970s SoCal drawl: “It’s about not disrupting the ecosystem the way conventional agriculture does. Instead, we try to grow in harmony with what’s already here. We love how it reconnects humans with nature, family, and our community.”

As I pack up at the end of the day, I think about how well people in Bozeman are executing these goals. We have a network of producers working hard to bring fresh, considerately grown food to customers. And they in turn support us. This exceptional reciprocity is what makes Bozeman a local foodie’s paradise.

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