Friday, July 19, 2019

A couple of weeks ago Gina and I did an all day road trip to the Joplin area. The City Market, farmers market, allows farmers to attend the market as long as they farm within 500 miles of the Market. Our vendors who travel from southern Missouri travel the farthest with the exception of Great River Maple; their farm is located 391 miles from Kansas City. I am not sure everyone realizes how many hours our vendors put in to get their produce ready to bring to the Market every Saturday and Sunday and then you tack on a three hour drive each way, I don’t know how they do it.

We always start with the farmer who lives the farthest out, in this case that is Nhia and Ying Xiong. The Xiong’s add something new every time I visit, this visit they added another high tunnel. To get to their farm we had to drive down a lane and through two cattle gates. The first time I visited them back in 2008 I was sure I made a wrong turn.

As always, Nhia and Ying were busy working in the fields. Nhia told me their day starts at 1 a.m. that is right 1 a.m., his day ends around 4 p.m. and they do this every day until the first frost. I always love walking through Nhia’s fields; he grows unique items and it is so interesting to hear how each thing is used. Gina and I tried an Asian cucumber while we were there and it was great. These cucumbers look more like a small melon and are ripe when they turn yellow. The key to eating them is to remove the skin and seeds; it has a sweet and sour taste at the same time. It reminded me of cucumber salad with vinegar dressing. Nhia and Ying grow a variety of vegetables and set up at the Market every Saturday in Stalls 83-86 located in the middle pavilion.

It was a bit of a challenge getting to the Lee’s farm. Anderson and Seneca Missouri received a heavy rain four days before we arrived which washed out culverts and a bridge in downtown Anderson. Our GPS took us down a gravel road that runs along the Buffalo River, trees were down and you could see how far over the banks the water had been, I must admit it was a little unnerving.

The Lee family also started vending at the City Market in 2008. With the help of grants, they have been able to add a high tunnel for growing tomatoes and a much needed well. The Lee’s take such pride in the vegetables they grow. You can see this as they walk you through their fields pointing out each row and telling us what it is. 

This area is very rocky and I am always amazed how well things grow in this condition. In addition to the area located next to their home, they also farm a plot of land located on the county line a few miles down the road. Like many of our vendors, they have a designated place for washing and storing the produce when getting it ready to bring to the market. 

The Lee’s, in addition to other vegetables, grow long beans, if you have not tried them you should. They taste like a traditional green been but are 12 to 18 inches long and grow on trellises. You will find the Lee’s in pavilion three stalls 116-118 every Saturday throughout the spring and summer.

Our last stop in this area is in Granby, Mo located southeast of Joplin. Ma and Teng Yang have a beautiful farm and sell at our Sunday market in pavilion 3 stalls 141 and 142. Like the Xiong’s and Lee’s the Yangs children have all grown up and moved away from the area or have gone off to school. This is a lot of hard work for two people to do. 

Teng walked us through the field while Ma was busy getting the vegetables they picked earlier in the day into the walk-in coolers. The Yang’s grow a wide variety of items including luffa. Before working at the Market, I never knew that loofa was an edible fruit. I always thought of it as a scrubbing sponge you use in the shower. Luffa is a subtropical vine in the cucumber family and is very popular in India, China and Vietnam. The fruit must be harvested when it is very young to be edible, when fully ripened it becomes very fibrous. I have yet to try eating loofa but it is on my must try list.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Deb Connors - Farmers Market Manager

While out visiting farms, we decided to take a slight detour to Grain Valley to visit Julie Brodersen. Cedarthorn Clay Creations. It has been a few years since I visited Julie’s workshop so was very overdue. Julie got her love of pottery from her grandmother; she took those happy memories and made it into a business. Julies home business has taken over her garage and basement, which allows her to have designated areas, set up for each item she makes. Julie makes all of her clay creations in the garage; I think my favorite thing is the small clay warming pies they are super cute and make great gifts.

The basement is where she creates all the rosehip potpourri, melts and candles. You can smell Julie’s booth at the market way before you ever see it. Customers choose and scoop the scent of their choice and can purchase a bottle of refresher oil to give the potpourri a boost when needed. All of Julie’s items have a rustic quality so fit with almost any decor.

No visit would be complete without heading to the backyard to socialize with the chickens. They each have their own personality and are probably the prettiest most spoiled chickens I have ever seen. They are truly living the good life in the chicken world. Julie is usually at the market every Sunday April through the end of August and back again in November. If you miss her at the Market, you can always visit her website and order on line.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

 Gina Levra - Assistant Farmers Market Manager

Hello folks! My name is Gina Levra and I am the new Farmers Market Assistant Manager. I am thrilled to be a part of a market that I have hung around for at least the last 18 years!I also had the privilege to work for a farmer in the summer of 2007. It was the best summer of my adult life!
Deb Connors is patiently educating me on all things Farmers Market. She has devoted 16 years to the Market and I have so much to learn. I could not have asked for a better teacher……

I made my first solo farm visit back in May to a beautiful place called Harvest Hills Farm outside of Mound City, MO! The roads to get there were mostly underwater, but once there, the absolute beauty of the place was a bit overwhelming at first. The farm sits on top of a hill with a perfect farm house, a "ferocious" guard dog named Henry and a family that made me feel right at home. I think I could have spent the weekend there!

Laura Kennesh and her brother Dylan showed me around their picturesque place. They are growing asparagus, cucumbers, garlic, green beans, peppers, potatoes, onions, squash, herbs, turnips, and other delicious produce. If we are lucky, we will be seeing some fresh local fruits as well.

It was a great visit and a perfect one for me to start on this journey. I am in awe of the hard work and tenacity of all of the farmers I have met and visited. This years’ weather has been devastating for so many of our farmers, and I can’t imagine being so dependent on what Mother Nature unleashes on us. All I can say is thank you for working so hard and providing the Farmers Market with excellent, local produce. Many thanks to Henry and the rest of the Kennesh family for a lovely afternoon. Welcome to the Market! Stop by and see Laura on Sunday’s. (this is her in the photo below)!