Saturday, February 4, 2017

There has been a great interest in vending at the farmers market this year so I am trying to stay on top of things and checking new vendors as soon as I can. All vendors in the Artist / Crafter category must have their art work or handmade products approved by market management prior to renting a space. We do this to insure that the person selling the item at the farmers’ market is also making it. 

We received a new application from Jordan Long a couple of weeks ago. Jordan is fairly new to Kansas City and his day job is teaching art at an elementary school in Kansas. Jordan paints in acrylic and watercolors and in some cases creates custom canvases to enhance his subject matter.  I had a lovely visit with Jordan and his mother, who is visiting, about their family farm in Oklahoma. I do love talking about farms.

Jordan plans to sell his art at the Sunday farmers’ market in the very near future; he brings something very unique to the Market.
Next week the City Market will have a booth at the KC Lawn and Garden show at Kemper Arena, I am sure I will not have enough time to visit any vendors next week but I hope to get out to quite a few of our existing Artist / Crafter vendors workshops in the next few weeks. I need to get this done soon since it will be time to visit greenhouses before I know it which means spring is almost here, thank goodness!

Friday, January 27, 2017

It seems much longer than three months since I have hit the road to visit farmers and crafters, maybe it’s because winter seems like it will never end. I am getting an early start this year since we have had so much interest in how to become a vendor at the City Market. We have received numerous new applications for the Sunday and Wednesday afternoon market and many of these vendors have products that are ready now.

I have people ask me all the time if I work during the winter months. My job never slows down no matter the time of year. The winter months are spent on getting everything lined up for a new year.  Which means sending out contracts, attending conferences, promoting the City Market and lots and lots of meetings. I am always glad when I can get back to being out of the office, visiting vendors and enjoying the bustle of the farmers market.

Last weekend I attended the Missouri Farmers Market Associations annual conference which was held in Saint Louis, Missouri. I figured I might as well visit a few farms and an artist/crafter vendor on the way there and back. We have received two new applications from farmers who live in or near Columbia, Missouri. The Grow Bros. Natural Farm is located in Sturgeon, MO which is about 20 miles north of Columbia. Hubert and Nathan Shaw along with their business partner Christopher Edwards grow oyster mushrooms. They currently sell at the Columbia Farmers Market but are looking to expand their operation so have searched out an additional market. I met with Hubert who showed me the mushrooms they have growing in their basement. All of their mushrooms are grown in straw bales which have had spores implanted, trust me Hubert did a much better job of explaining the process. They hope to add a new barn very soon to increase the amount of mushrooms they can grow to better keep up with the demand. I think their product will be a great addition to the farmers market.

I miscalculated a little so had to backtrack to get to Tutt’s Farm Fresh in Columbia. I met Kevin and his wife at a conference I attended a couple weeks ago in St. Joe, Missouri. During the summer months they operate a roadside stand located next to their farm fields and greenhouse. I was amazed when I walked into their green house and saw 2,600 pepper plants which were covered in beautiful red, green, yellow and orange bell peppers. What a difference a greenhouse makes. They also had a few radishes ready to harvest and sweet potatoes stored over from the fall. The trick with holding sweet potatoes is to not wash them until you are ready to eat them. In this case a little dirt is a good thing. I will be stopping by the Tutt’s farm again in the spring once they have their other crops in but for now they will be bringing peppers, sweet potatoes and radishes to the Market.

 After a wonderful three days in St. Louis, great information to get me excited about the upcoming season and a chance to visit with other market managers and vendors from the state I headed home but had some time to visit with two other new vendors on the way.I had to take a slight detour to get to Sedalia but it was worth the time. I found a great place to have lunch and got a chance to meet Carol Jasper. Carol has been soaping for the last twenty years but has started making soap full time the last three years. Her soap operation has taken up the majority of her kitchen and the back room of her home. I was so impressed with the list of soaps she makes and how organized she was. When visiting a craft vendor I am always looking at their supplies and work area, Carol did not disappoint. Carol has her soaps in local shops, does a nice mail order business and sells at the Missouri State Fair. Since her schedule is a little busy she will be selling at the Sunday Market off and on through 2017. Carol said this shouldn’t be a problem since her soaps lasts a long time.

I am so glad I saved Hemme Brothers Creamery for the end of my trip, you will find out why a little later. The Hemme family has been farming in Saline County since 1848. The farm is still a family operation with David’s four sons splitting up the responsibilities; crops, heifers, cows and cheese making. David gave me a tour of the creamery; they will not be making cheese until Tuesday so it was pretty quiet. What a beautiful spotless operation. I was really impressed with their product and facility. I was able to try “Quark’ for the first time, I had no idea what it was. It is a spreadable cheese which is very popular in Europe and is pretty much a staple on every table. I am now a fan, I tried it on an English muffin, so good. The creamery also makes various flavors of cheese curds and apple wood smoked cheddar, their cheese has a very distinct taste.  I left the creamery and was just in time to see the cows being milked. David had me follow him into the milking area which is below the cows so the milking machines can be attached to each cow. It was amazing to watch the cows walk in, on their own, in a row, angle themselves and back up into position. You might be guessing where this story is going, one of the cows let loose and I got a little splattered, thank goodness there was a shield or I would have had a cow pie on my head. I must admit this city girl had to swallow hard. If David is able to get all of his Kansas City permits lined up by Saturday he plans to be at the Market on the 28th.

This winter has been much colder than last year so we have all of the farmer market vendors in the third pavilion located on the north side of the market on Saturday and Sundays, they will spread back into two pavilions in a couple more weeks. The vintage sale is taking place in the first heated pavilion on Sundays during the winter. The Farmer Market hours November through March are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. The Wednesday market will kick of on June 7th from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. In a couple weeks you will start to see the farmers market vendors start trickling back in, I can’t wait.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

What a beautiful day to visit Farms. Today I'm making a really big loop around the Kansas City area I'm going to start my day in Edgerton Kansas. I am meeting Steve and Andrea Myers the owners of Be Love Too Farm, their specialty is growing sprouts. I'm really excited to visit with this new vendor today since they have an item we don't currently have available at the Market. The Meyers have found a way to grow sprouts year-round in their basement which is perfect because they can control the temperature and the humidity. Their specialty is wheatgrass, sunflower shoots and pea shoots but they will eventually add mung bean shoots, alfalfa shoots broccoli shoots, clover shoots, radish shoots and fenugreek shoots this year. Be Love Too Farm is a non-certified organic sustainable farm. The Myer’s anticipate selling at the City Market starting in November and will remain at the market throughout the winter. In addition to selling their sprouts they will also be selling farm-raised mushrooms from Wakarusa Valley Farm located in Lawrence, Kansas. Wakarusa Valley Farm was a very popular vendor at the market last year so I'm very excited that we will once again have their wonderful product at the market.

After leaving Edgerton I headed towards Weston, Missouri to visit with Don Browning who owns Centennial Iris Gardens. I thought this would be a really easy visit since Don grows all of his irises, mums and lilies in the front yard of his home in downtown Weston, I was mistaken. Weston, Missouri unbeknown to me was preparing for their annual Apple Festival.  Between the roads being under construction, no street parking and all their parking lots being barricaded I was unable to get anywhere close to Don’s home, not for the lack of trying. I thought I could park out and walk in but that was not an option especially when driving the City Market purple veggie truck. My next course of action visit  Google Earth where I was able to see he does indeed grow plants in his front yard.  Don will be coming to the Market within the next few weeks on Sunday and possibly Saturdays later this year. For additional information about Centennial Iris Gardens visit his web site at

After a quick lunch break and some ice cream from Green Dirt Farms cute little restaurant in Weston I headed towards Buckner, Missouri.  I wanted to stop in to check Frye Farms tomato greenhouse one more time this season since this is the main item they sell at the City Market and many greenhouses have stopped producing by now. I found their road side store a bustle with activity, they were preparing for a busy weekend where they demonstrate how sorghum is made. It is pretty cool to see! Marlin had just picked the last of the greenhouse tomatoes earlier in the week so when these are gone they will be buying local tomatoes to resale. This is allowed in the supplement category but all produce must be harvested within 500 miles of the market and cannot be more than 50% of the product being sold by that vendor that day.  In addition to supplemented greenhouse tomatoes Marlin will also be selling fall mums at the Market.  You will find Frye Farms located in the third pavilion in stalls 129-131 for a few more weeks.

Today I took a little field trip on the street car to visit Annette “Gigi” Jones. Annette owns Zafar which is located in the Power and Light District in Kansas City. After some business adjustments to her salon/spa/boutique she is working on reopening her store in the near future but wants to sell her hand made body scrubs and Shea butter at the Sunday farmers market. Annette gave me a demonstration of how she makes and packages her fragrant body scrubs. She only uses scents which have a therapeutic or healing component to them and I must admit after trying some on my hand the results were very noticeable. Zafar will be at the market for the first time this coming Sunday in the third pavilion. For additional information visit her web site at

I am slowing down a little on farm visits but hope to continue visiting with the many artist/craft vendors who sell at the City Market over the next couple months.

Once again the weather looks beautiful for the farmers market this weekend. Just a reminder we are a year round farmers market so don’t forget to support local farmers, crafter and small businesses this winter!

Friday, September 30, 2016

It is the end of September and officially fall and I have yet to visit all the City Market vendors this year. So far this year I have traveled 4,151 miles and have checked 56 vendors farms or workshops. Much of this year has been spent visiting new vendors who sell during the Sunday farmers market. 

Last week I once again stayed in the Kansas City, Kansas area. Although the City Market allows vendors to participate in the farmers market from within a 500 mile radius of Kansas City many of our vendors farm and live just across the state line. Most of the vendor I visited on the 15th sell cut flower bouquets so I thoroughly enjoyed myself while walking through the rows of dahlias, zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, gladiolas and cockscombs.

See Vang and Nao Thue Thao have the tallest dahlias I have ever seen, See explained that she plants a special variety which is better suited to our weather. As we walked through the rows See was constantly clipping flowers to send back to the office with me, what a wonderful treat. I was fretting about getting them back safely. In addition to flowers See also grows eggplant, banana peppers, mustard greens, lemon grass and bok choy.  You will find See and her family at the Market most Saturdays and Sundays April through October. Saturday pavilion 3 stall 135 and 136 and Sundays Pavilion two stall 82.

I was barley back in the truck and I had arrived at Cha Vang’s. Cha farms this large plot of land with his son Chenou Vang and the rest of his family. I was amazed how his farm had expanded since my first visit a few years ago. Everyone was busy when I arrived so I wondered through the rows on my own. I love the trellises they make out of sticks to support the bitter melons, they are quite beautiful. Cha had rows of Moonshadow hyacinth beans which were climbing along wire suppor. I always thought they were poisonous to eat but apparently if you eat the pod when it is small and tender it is okay but as the pod gets older and the bean starts to dry it could be poisonous. I have one of these plants at home as an ornamental, it is very pretty and grows quickly. Cha also grows cut flowers, his gladiolas were beautiful. Chenou Produce is at the Market every Saturday and Sunday April through October. You will find them in the third pavilion in stalls 123-125 on Saturdays and in Pavilion two in stalls 76, 77 & 83 on Sundays.

My last stop for this day was at the home of Alissa Pang Her and Chao Her. They farm in the area located behind their home on a pretty steep slope. No one was home so I walked through only a portion of their back yard. I am always fascinated by the bamboo that is growing along the side of their yard; it spreads every year I am there. They still had okra to harvest, kale and eggplant along with zinnias and cock combs. Alissa Pang Her is at the Market most Saturdays during the summer and occasionally on Sunday.