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Big Sky Farmers Market – The American Legion & Mutiara Pearls

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The American Legion Post 99

Treasure State Honey

PHOTO BY BELLA BUTLER

The Big Sky Farmers Market has been providing the American Legion Post 99 with a way to connect with the community—and raise money for their various causes—since almost the conception of the farmers market itself. Adjutant Capt. Jack Hudspeth says they started their booth selling local honey probably two years after the market started.

It all started with 6,500 beehives in Fort Shaw, Montana. Jim Savoy, manager of Treasure State Honey, was a good friend of Devon White, the owner of the Corral at the time, and would visit often. Eventually, the idea of providing the ranch’s honey for resale at the Farmers Market came to a vote, and to this day the little golden jars have been flying off the table perched in front of Choppers each Wednesday evening in Town Center.

The honey, it turns out, is award winning. According to Hudspeth, Treasure State Honey won an international competition in Istanbul, Turkey and won gold out of 100 entrants.

“You can basically say it is the best honey in the world if you want to look at it that way,” said Hudspeth.

For the American Legion, the table is about more than honey—on top of the sales benefitting the nonprofits they support, they’re hoping to grow their membership in both the American Legion and Sons of the American Legion. The local post provides funds for the Lone Peak High School Oratorical Contest, the American Legion baseball team, maintaining the white crosses along U.S. Highway 191, a scholarship program for the Friends of Lone Peak High School and support the Big Sky Food Bank, the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity.

As for the honey, apparently it helps allergies.

“We have one guy that comes back every year that says he had allergies since he was a kid and his mom gave him raw honey and he’s been better ever since,” Hudspeth said. Although he’s not sure of the science behind it and provided no guarantees, Hudspeth admits he puts a spoonful in his coffee everyday—just in case.

PHOTO BY BELLA BUTLER

William & Patea White

Mutiara LLC Pearls

PHOTO BY BELLA BUTLER

For William White, the magic of his booth at the Big Sky Farmers Market is connecting the perfect pearl with the person who will be wearing it. White and his wife, Patea, own Mutiara LLC Pearls, and specialize in sourcing the most beautiful and rare pearls Mother Nature produces. They act as both a provider for jewelers across the country, and design beautiful pieces of their own, all on display at their booth each Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Patea is from Tahiti French Polynesia and her friends and family have been harvesting pearls in Tahiti for many years. Armed with her background and inspired by the beauty that pearls provide a wearer, White started Mutiara after graduating from school in 2003. The two have been full time residents of Big Sky for three years where they raise their children, Ann Marie, 6, and Aitoa, 11.

Alongside pairing person with pearl, White enjoys educating patrons of his booth about the process of harvesting and culturing Tahitian black pears.

“The easiest way to describe it is it’s like surgery,” White said. “The farming process is very complicated and very labor intensive and science oriented. The production of a beautiful pearl is a phenomenon of nature.”

White says pearls are a unique piece to wear because they are organic, derived from a Black Lipped Oyster. He and his family also enjoy bringing a piece of Tahiti to the Big Sky community, so they can experience the feeling of an island from far away.

“The moments that I’ve been in involved in—whether it’s a special occasion, anniversary, wedding, whatever that be—that’s a really special thing to be a part of for me,” White said. “The emotions that a pearl a can bring out are wonderful.”

PHOTO BY BELLA BUTLER

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