Friday, August 11, 2017

I had a very short trip today since all of the farms I am visiting are located in the same large field. We have four vendors who rent a parcel of land located north of I-70 in Kansas City, Kansas. I sometimes have trouble determining which plot belongs to which vendor but today I lucked out and Vang Thao and family were on sight and was able to help me.

Vang Thao Garden has been vending at the City Market since 2014 and sells at the Sunday farmers market. Like many of our vendors, Vang Thao grows a variety of flowers to sell as bouquets at the market. The type of flowers in the bouquets will vary depending on the season. You will currently see bouquets that contain zinnias, cockscombs, cosmos, dhalia, gladiolas and sunflowers Vang Thao’s Garden had them all. As with all of our vendors this time of year they were busy trying to stay on top of the weeds, lots of rain and heat makes for very healthy weeds.  In addition to flowers, they also grow squash, cucumbers, assorted peppers, okra, long beans, water spinach, bitter melon, basil, dill and tomatoes that had yet to start producing. You will find Vang Thao Garden in pavilion three stalls 129 & 130 every Sunday through the first frost.

Located on the north side of the property on a steep hill is Youa Vangs plot. This is a very challenging section of land for growing vegetables, especially with all the rain we had this summer. Youa had  a little lettuce that was still producing since it was located in a shady part of the field, I was actually a little surprised to see this with all the heat we had a few weeks ago. Although Youa has struggled this year, she had Asian melons, lemon grass and a few flowers that she can bring to the market on Sundays. You will find Youa’s Farm in pavilion one in stall 6.

Across the drive is Amy Lo’s plot, which takes up the width of the property. Amy was not on the property when I arrived but I have been visiting her garden since 2011 so knew exactly where it starts and ends. Amy also sells cut flowers and had the same variety of flowers as Vang Thao with the exception of bachelor buttons and marigolds. She has added more tomatoes this year, which were just starting to turn red, field tomatoes, are really starting to come on now. Amy also grows a variety of vegetables that she brings to the market every Saturday through the first frost. You will find Amy in Pavilion two stalls 53 and 54.

Located at the back of the property is Pheng Hers plot. Pheng and her family have been farming for six years and started vending at the Sunday farmers market their first year. They have since been able to get a Saturday contract and are now selling on both market days. Pheng sells a mix of cut flowers and vegetables and has a second location where she farms which I still need to visit this summer. I cannot believe how fast time is ticking by this year. You will find Peng her is pavilion three on Saturday in stall 131 and pavilion one on Sundays in stall 10.

I headed across town to Independence, MO to visit with a new applicant for the artist crafter category. Before a new vendor gets approval to sell at the City Market, I am required to visit their workshop to verify they personally make the items they would like to sell. Sam LaSala has a workshop where he draws designs and screen-prints them on t-shirts. Vendors who purchase pre made t-shirts are required to create the design themselves and the design must encompass at least 50% of the shirt. Sam spends  quite a bit of time drawing and cleaning up his designs before screen-printing them to a t-shirt but the designs are not large enough or detailed enough to cover the shirts so is not something we will allow at this time. I was glad to hear that he plans to work on this and I will revisit him once he makes this adjustment, and so, you could possible see Art Space at the market in the near future.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The weather this last week has been a little crazy and have caused some major issues for a few of our vendors. The extreme winds we had last Saturday can cause a lot of damage to a greenhouse or high tunnel, not to mention it is very hard on some plants. Many of the rural areas had flooding on Wednesday night, I know of at least one vendor in Odessa who had a portion of his field under water Thursday morning. Farming can be such a challenge especially when Mother Nature is in a mood.

I have been keeping super busy traveling around Kansas and Missouri the last few weeks visiting with new vendors and those who have sold at the market for a few years. Earlier this month I drove to Garden Plain, KS which is located on the other side of Wichita. It was a long drive but the day was beautiful and I love driving in the Flint Hills. I stopped at a scenic pull over to stretch my legs only to find out it was a cattle crossing where the cattle would get herded over the highway, it was very cool.

I think I got a little off track, the vendor I was visiting was Rhonda Loehr, the owner of Hill Top Farm. Rhonda is fairly new to farming, she has been growing thirteen acres of watermelon and cantaloupe since 2013 and has been learning by trial and error. This year’s crop was just getting ready to harvest but the extreme heat has been taking its toll on the plants, it was 97 degrees when I arrived. If they have enough product to bring to Kansas City you will see Rhonda at the Sunday market.

The day I visited Don Stucker in Blue Springs I had planned to make a day of farm visits.   The storms caused a change in my plans, the rain was a little extreme and the highways were backed up so I opted to stop in Blue Springs in the morning and Odessa on my way home once the rain let up. Don and Tracy have been selling microgreens and baby greens at the Sunday market for a couple weeks. If you are not familiar with microgreens they are almost any green vegetable or herb that has edible leaves and is harvested when the first set of true leaves sprout. Microgreens have a very concentrated taste and the health benefits are similar to sprouts but will vary depending on the type of plant. The variety of micro greens and baby greens Don is currently growing are sunflower, mustard, broccoli, kale, sweet lettuce, radish, carrot, peas, wheat germ, amaranth and spicy salad mix. As with many of our vendors Don and his wife have day jobs but love the flavor and health benefits of microgreens and want to share this with others.

On my way home that night I stopped and visited with Colin Douthit who has a farm in Odessa, Mo. Red Team Farm raises grass fed and grass finished beef, pasture raised pork, pastured poultry and free range chicken eggs. All of their chickens, in addition to eating in the pasture, are fed non GMO grains. Colin raises a smaller heritage breed of cattle called Irish Dexters. They are shorter and very stout, I couldn’t believe how thick their necks were. As we were standing among the cattle in the field I suddenly felt something nudge my arm, it was the bull wanting me to pet it. He was very docile and became my new friend. Red Team Farms hopes to start vending at the Sunday Market next month. For additional information visit their web site at

Monday, July 24, 2017

Stephen's Orchard & Apiary

Sarah here! While out checking a Youth Market vendor’s tomato plants, I stopped by Stephen's Orchard & Apiary a few Tuesdays ago to take a look around. Walt and Karlon Stephen are both a joy to be around at the market and I was really looking forward to seeing their place! Walt let me know ahead of time that they wouldn't be able to meet with me, but encouraged me to still stop by.

City Market’s Property Manager, Deb Churchill, came with me to Bonner Springs, Kansas to walk around the Stephen’s orchard and see the hives Walt keeps on property. The apple trees in the orchard were heavy with delectable looking apples. Surely they will be ready to bring to market in the upcoming weeks.

The hives were quite active, Deb and I decided we would be better off staying away from them since Walt was not there to advise us. The Stephen’s keep about two dozen hives on their property and have hives on other nearby farms as well. Having bees on the farm helps pollinate crops that would otherwise have to be pollinated by hand. I fully appreciate bees even if I am a little afraid of them stinging me.

While the Stephen’s market table is filled with tasty looking jars and bottles of honey, you’ll also see beeswax soaps, lip balms, and other body products that Karlon and her daughter Michelle make using some of the byproducts from the hives.

Find Stephen’s Orchard & Apiary at the market on Saturdays in the north pavilion stalls 141-142 and on Sundays in the middle pavilion stalls 67-68. See you at the market!