Whether you’re looking for fresh, local produce to cook at home or a quick and easy bite, check out our farmers markets.
By Julie Fustanio Kling
Fresh produce at the Jackson Hole Farmers Market. Photo by Ryan Jones
IT’S WEDNESDAY EVENING and you’ve just hiked Snow King with your friends. Your legs have the happy burn that comes from hiking in the mountains, and you’re starving. Arriving back at the mountain’s base with a serious appetite was part of the plan, though. Jackson Hole has two weekly farmers markets, and one of them, the Jackson Hole People’s Market, is every Wednesday evening at the base of Snow King Mountain. Wandering around the booths of the more than forty-five vendors, it’s dawning on you that the hike up and down Snow King might have been the easiest part of this adventure. How to choose between momos (traditional Nepalese dumplings), pork belly tacos, noodles, pulled pork sandwiches, and stir-fried rice? (And that’s not even half of what’s available!) Maybe you should just go straight for a cupcake and a beer?
Jackson Hole’s farmers markets—the second one is the Saturday Jackson Hole Farmers Market—are not just about shopping for produce you can cook at home later. (Although both offer ample opportunities to do that.) Every year, more and more vendors offering prepared foods attend the markets. Because the Wednesday market coincides with dinner and the Saturday one with breakfast/brunch, the prepared offerings of each differ. But both now have enough diversity that even the pickiest eater won’t be disappointed, unless of course they get there late (prepared items do sell out).
The chefs at the Saturday morning Jackson Hole Farmers Market often arrive at the same time as the farmers—around 7:30. The former set up their temporary kitchens while the latter unload produce from their trucks. A Saturday tradition for many local foodies, this market began in 2000 under the elk antler arches on the Town Square. Founded by local business owner Jim Darwiche as a way to gather community together around flavors, it is the oldest farmer’s market in the state of Wyoming. Since then, it has become an incubator for some of the valley’s best bites. “It allows new businesses to get the community behind them so they know they can be successful here,” says farmers market spokesperson Jenny May Shervin.
“I give 110 percent of all my love and respect to the local farmers and what they can do,” says private chef Eric Wilson. “The food just tastes better.
Before it had three cafes around the valley, Persephone Bakery had a booth at the Saturday farmers market. When Persephone first began coming, it was one of the only vendors doing sweet treats. Now on any given Saturday you can pick between Nom Nom Doughnuts (try an apple fritter, blackberry chocolate sprinkle doughnut, or chocolate s’more doughnut), Baker’s Gonna Bake, Cream + Sugar (we haven’t yet had a flavor of their ice cream or ice cream sandwich we haven’t loved), and Hannah Cakes, among others.
The markets aren’t all sweets and baked goods, though. Sweet Cheeks Meats, which opened a permanent space in November 2016 has been at the Saturday farmers market since 2015. “The farmers market is where our business started,” says butcher and co-founder (with wife Nora) Nick Phillips. “We’re one of market success stories, and we’ve been back every summer since.” Sweet Cheeks still serves the sandwich it unveiled in 2015: the Sunnyside Swine—maple bacon sausage with egg and cheese on a house-made buttermilk biscuit. They also always do some kind of biscuits and gravy, although “we’re always changing up the type of sausage we use in it,” says Phillips, whose last job before butchering was as a hydroelectric engineer at the Palisades Dam. “Last summer we also did our Royale with Cheese, a smashed burger with fried egg and our Nasty Sauce.” As yummy as Sweet Cheeks’ food is, Phillips says he eats elsewhere Saturday mornings: “I always try to get to Rosa’s Tamales before they sell out for the day.”
To wash your food down, look for Teatonic Kombucha, Big Hole Smoothies, Ascent Kombucha, Snake River Brewing, and Roadhouse Brewing, among others. (Vendors at both markets are always changing.)
While the number of vendors doing prepared foods has grown, that doesn’t mean there are fewer opportunities to buy produce to cook at home. Follow the lead of the many local chefs who shop at the Wednesday and Saturday markets. “I give 110 percent of all my love and respect to the local farmers and what they can do,” says private chef Eric Wilson. “The food just tastes better. There’s no real mystery. Vegetables are fresh, right from the dirt. They are insane.” Phillips says, “We shop for the butcher shop and our catering operations at the farmers market. Before [the public] shows up, we’re over talking with our farmers and trading with them. We build the menus for our summer events at the farmers market and love cooking with this quality of produce. The cheeses Lark’s Meadow Farms makes are wonderful.” Local chef Eric Smith loves cooking with meat from Purely By Chance, a farm in Alta, Wyoming, that raises grass-fed chickens, eggs, and pigs. It sells its meat at both markets (and is often on the menu at Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis, the Wild Sage, and Shooting Star).
Smith uses the diversity of producers at the farmers markets for recipe ideas. “You start seeing the food and you think of roasting fennel or pickling radishes,” he says. Jackson resident Sarah Warren says she wasn’t familiar with chard until she saw Cosmic Apple Gardens selling it at the Saturday farmers market about a decade ago. “Its vibrant color caught my attention,” she says. “Intrigued, I bought some and asked them how I should cook it.” That night Warren sautéed the leafy vegetable with olive oil and garlic. “I was a little worried my family wouldn’t like the taste since we’d never had it before. Everyone loved it, though, and now we get some every week it’s in season. I make a point to look for other produce I don’t know, too.”
The summer Jackson Hole People’s Market is from 4–7 p.m. Wednesdays between May 29 and September 18, tetonslowfood.org/peoples-market. The Saturday Jackson Hole Farmers Market is from 8 a.m.–12 p.m. Saturdays between June 22 and September 21, jacksonholefarmersmarket.com.
A basket of fresh loot from the weekly Jackson Hole People’s Market. Photo by Jonathan Crosby
Juan Morales serves a mango from Rosa’s Tamales stand during the weekly Jackson Hole Farmers Market. Photo by Ryan Dorgan
The Jackson Hole Farmers Market is Wyoming’s oldest. It started in 2000. Photo by Price Chambers