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Farm Box: Year-round farmer's market in Joliet connecting local producers with purchasers

Farm Box: Year-round farmer's market in Joliet connecting local producers with purchasers
Posted at 6:27 PM, May 19, 2024

JOLIET — Fifteen years ago, Justin Dye had a dream to start a business with a farm-to-table feel, and three years ago, his dream became a reality when he started Farm Box.

“In college, I was looking at more farm-to-table operations and there really wasn’t a whole lot going on in our area at the time,” Dye said on Sunday. “(Farm Box) helps connect the local growers and producers with the communities that are around us, especially in the rural areas, where it becomes a little bit more scarce.”

Farm Box: Year-round farmer's market in Joliet connecting local producers with purchasers

Dye and his family set up a small-scale farmer's market in Joliet on Sundays, offering jams, fruits, vegetables, baked goods, mushrooms and other local products. They also offer lunch made with local meats and produce.

Farm Box: Year-round farmer's market in Joliet connecting local producers with purchasers

“It helps keep the money in the community,” Dye said. “The world of food's changing in so many ways. People are wanting source-ability. They want to know where their foods coming from and so we’re able to connect a lot of that.”

Farm Box: Year-round farmer's market in Joliet connecting local producers with purchasers

In peak season, Farm Box showcases up to 15 different local producers. A majority of the sales from Farm Box go back to the farmers and ranchers, with Dye keeping 25% of profits.

“We need people like Justin (Dye) to market our produce, get it out and teach people how to cook with it,” said Bonnie Martinell, the owner of Boja Farm.

Farm Box: Year-round farmer's market in Joliet connecting local producers with purchasers

Near Belfry, Boja Farm is a successful, chemical-free orchard that has been running for 28 years, but Martinell still appreciates Dye's work.

“A lot of the consumer doesn’t realize how much food is actually grown out their backyard, and that’s what Justin (Dye) is doing, is exposing people to that,” Martinell said.

Farm Box: Year-round farmer's market in Joliet connecting local producers with purchasers

Another producer who works with Dye is Speedy and Flo's Sweet Corn out of Hardin. While their family has booths selling their produce throughout Montana and into Wyoming, they still enjoy also dropping some corn off at Farm Box to sell in Joliet.

Farm Box: Year-round farmer's market in Joliet connecting local producers with purchasers

“When I went to Absarokee every Sunday, we’d meet up and I would just give him corn and that’s how it started," Flocelo Ramirez said. "(It's) better for both of us.”

Dye also offers delivery, bringing fresh, local products right to your door. He hopes to expand Farm Box with a mobile market to reach other communities.