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King Family Farms prepping for another season of Gardeners' Market in Billings

King Family Farms prepping for another season of Gardeners' Market in Billings
Posted at 1:25 PM, May 16, 2024

BILLINGS — Starting on June 13, the Gardeners' Market, sponsored by Healthy by Design, will begin their 14th season of offering a free space for local vendors to sell fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables at South Park in Billings.

Clint and Kathy King run King Family Farms, a multi-acre vegetable garden in Lockwood. As Clint King prepares his garden for another season of selling produce at the Gardeners' Market, he always remembers who first started the business.

King Family Farms prepping for another season of Gardeners' Market in Billings
John King, in the orange Denver Broncos hat, with his father Clint King and their family at a market.

“Our son actually started it in 2009 when we moved out here,” King said on Wednesday.

His son, John, saw an advertisement in the local paper for the Gardeners' Market and wanted to participate. John started King Family Farms and the business grew rapidly.

King Family Farms prepping for another season of Gardeners' Market in Billings

“I retired from my state job in 2017 just to help him," King said. "Well, that winter, December 28, he was killed in a car wreck right here at the Lockwood on-ramp.”

King said it was hard for the family to continue the business the first year after losing their son, but they still carried on as a tribute to the one who started it all.

“For John’s sake just to, you know, he kind of earned it. He had a good thing going,” King said.

King Family Farms prepping for another season of Gardeners' Market in Billings

While the family farm may be growing more produce than they ever have before, King said they haven't changed their prices much since John first started selling vegetables.

Something that is appreciated at the Gardeners' Market, which was first started to offer affordable produce to the community.

Jenna Solomon, the Healthy by Design Gardeners' Market manager, said they first started the market when they saw that the community was not meeting the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

King Family Farms prepping for another season of Gardeners' Market in Billings

"Meeting the needs of our community and bringing fresh and affordable and accessible produce to our community," Solomon said. "We encourage everyone to come down and check it out, regardless of your needs."

Once the market begins, every Thursday vendors gather to sell a variety of goods from local honey and handmade soap to in-season fruits and vegetables. The vendors are encouraged to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP and double SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits.

“For many years now, WIC participants have had the option to receive WIC farmers market checks,” said Kate Monger, the RiverStone Health WIC and family services manager. “It provides them the opportunity to buy from our local farmers.”

King Family Farms prepping for another season of Gardeners' Market in Billings

Families active in WIC can receive $30 per eligible person for the summer to purchase fresh produce. The Yellowstone County WIC program serves about 2,500 people.

“The most rewarding parts of it is those young ladies with the WIC program because 99.9% of them truly, truly appreciate it,” King said. "I don't care if you're a millionaire or don't have two nickels to rub together, if there's something I have that you need or want, I want to be able to provide it for them."