Friday, May 28, 2010

Farm Inspections May 27, 2010

Since I will be checking farms in Kansas City Kansas today I decided to stay at the office part of the day to get caught up. Many of the vendors who sell at the market live in Kansas City Kansas, which makes my day much easier. I left the office about 12:00 p.m., headed west on I- 70 to 57th street to check two waiting list vendors, Yia and Vanna Her, who farm the same section of land together. Luckily Yia was at home and explained which section was hers and which section belong to Vanna. Yia was not pleased with the way her garden looked. Nothing was coming up the way she had hoped it would due to all the rain we have been getting and the cold temperatures earlier in the month. She hopes to have something ready for market by Mid June, Yia fears it will not be a good season.

Five minutes later I arrive at a large parcel of land which is farmed by four different families. I always take a minute to enjoy the sight of this farm. You cannot see it from the road since it sits down in a valley, but when you walk to the top of the hill it is quite a sight to see. It reminds me of a beautiful patchwork quilt. The land is owned by Cha Vang and sectioned off for each family, all of which have stalls at the Market. Cha Vang is in stall 123 on Saturday and 75 on Sunday. Chou Lor sets up in stalls 121 & 122 on Saturday and 79 & 80 on Sunday; Yee Vang is in stalls 66 & 67 on Saturday and 76 on Sunday. Chiong Vang also has a small plot in addition to the 2½ acres located behind his home. Cha was also not happy with the condition of her fields.

I then headed to 67th street which is the location of Chiong Vangs 2 ½ acre farm. We walked to the back of his property so I could see everything which was planted not thinking about the hike back up the hill. Everything was planted and looking pretty good considering the lower section of his property had been pretty muddy.

One more stop in Basehor, Kansas and I will call it a day. Not too far off K-7 is a very nice garden located behind the Her home. No one was anywhere to be seen so I took pictures from a distance. Xa Her is a Saturday waiting list vendor who has been coming to the market for a few years now.

I will probably continue to check farms in Kansas again next week. About one third of the farmers selling at the City Market farm in Kansas.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Farm Inspections May 20, 2010

I am sure everyone is sick of all the rain but trust me no one more than the farmers. Everywhere I go I see vegetable plants sitting in greenhouses waiting to be planted. And the farmers that were able to get their fields seeded have watched the seed wash away. Everyone needs a few dry sunny days with a light breeze, I don't think that is asking too much.

Today I headed out in the rain towards Saint Joe, Missouri to visit Randy Kahler. Kahler Family Greenhouse is usually at the Market April through mid June unless he has sold out before then.Randy has one greenhouse and a roadside stand in front of his house where he sells bedding plants. I don't think Randy will make it to mid June this year, his green house was getting pretty empty, and this was before he loaded up for the weekend.

My next stop is only a hop skip and a jump to King City and Lost Creek Farm. Donna and Darrel Clausen have a licensed bakery on their farm. Donna does most of the baking but Darrel has been known to help. In addition to the bakery, Darrel farms, and in spite of all the rain has managed to get quite a few things planted. They will be bringing white and red radishes to the market this weekend to sell in one of their stalls and bakery items in the other two. Donna's pies are wonderful, my favorite is her cherry pie.

While visiting King City I had to stop and take pictures of all the wind generators that have been erected since my visit last year. Donna told me there are 100 in the area. They are amazing to see.

I then headed down H highway through Amity and took a quick look at The Crowther Farm and then off to their bakery, Bread of Life, in Stewartsville. Everyone was very busy baking bread so I tried to stay out of their way and just enjoy the wonderful smells. Amanda and Bethany are at the Market every Saturday through December in shed two stalls 82 and 83. Bread of Life will also be at the Market on Sundays this year in stall 111.

I headed south down K highway to Gower, Missouri. If you are ever out for a drive around Mothers Day weekend you will want to stop at Comanche Acres Iris Gardens ( I was lucky enough to visit this year when Jim's 17 acres of irises were in full bloom, what a sight to see. Jim thinks they will be in full bloom for at least another week.

Next stop Platsburg, Missouri and George's Garden. George was not home but I knew he wouldn't mind if I looked around. Although there was a lot of mud George did have onions and leaf lettuce coming up which will be ready to bring to market next weekend. In addition to produce George raises beautiful succulents and cactus. Like many of the farms I have visited his vegetable plants were in small pots waiting for things to dry out so they could go into the field.

William and Clara Hanks also live in Platsburg so I did not have a very long drive to get to Windy Ridge. I had heard that a tornado went through their property last week but I did not expect to see so much damage. They lost one greenhouse completely, the second is badly damaged and the third needs quite a few braces and the plastic replaced. It is a wonder no one was injured and their house was still standing. The one upside is that their plants were not damaged, so all was not lost. They just hope they can get the rest of their crops in. Their son Bill and and Daughter in-law Jennifer are at the market every Saturday in stalls 63-65.

Next week I plan to head into Kansas and I am hoping for nothing but sunshine.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Farm Inspections May 13, 2010

I had planned to head north to Wathena Kansas and St. Joseph, Missouri this week but changed my mind with all the rain we got on Wednesday. I didn't want to take a chance in getting stuck in the mud. Instead I went to Platt City to visit Carrie Georges or as she is known around the Market, the "Dip Stick Lady". Carrie makes dip and bread mixes out of her licensed home kitchen. The dip mixes are packaged in straws with the precise amount of seasoning to add to a tub of sour cream. Carrie is at the market most Saturday's stall 53 and Sunday's stall 117. For more information visit her web site at

Next stop is Independence,Mo so I headed east on Hwy 92. Bloomers Greenhouse is located just south of the intersection of 210 and 291. I always enjoy walking through the green houses with all their wonderful fragrances and beautiful plants. Lauri had a great selection of very unusual plants, which I have not seen in the other green houses I had visited this year. You will find Bloomers at the market on Saturdays stalls 60-62 April through June.

If it drys out a little I will be heading to Saint Joe next week.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Farm Inspections May 5th & 6th, 2010

This week I will be checking farms for two days and visiting three states. By the time I get back I will have traveled 1100 miles.
I knew I had a long day ahead of me so I left Kansas City at 6:00 a.m. headed east on 50 hwy to visit a soon to be new vendor at the market. Jill Smith raises longhorn steers and will soon be bringing free range longhorn beef products to the City Market. Jill currently has approximately 57 head, 17 of which are calves. The star of her herd is “Bo” the bull. Although I arrived at Jill’s around 7:00 am she was kind enough to take me out to see the heard on her “gator”. I have never been in the middle of a longhorn heard before and it was very cool.

My next stop is an 83 mile drive to Osceola, MO and White Oak Berry Farm. Michael Goth had “gone fishing” so his neighbor and employee walked me around the farm. The strawberry plants were covered with green berries and should be ready to bring to market in a couple weeks. Michael also raises gooseberries and blueberries, both of which were thick with green berries. This should be a good year for blueberries. After much pruning Michael’s blackberries looked very healthy and one variety will produce seedless berries. Michael got back before I left without any fish. White Oak Berry Farm is in pavilion 3 stall 120 on Saturday and should be at the market shortly before the end of May.

Back in the truck I head west on MO 82 to Seneca, Mo which is just south of Joplin (114 miles). The Lee Family Farm has been farming for the past 12 years and have been selling at the City market for two years. The Lee’s are located in pavilion 3 stalls 116-118. They will be back at the market Saturday May 8th for the first time this season and usually are at the market every Saturday through October. The Lee family has a beautiful farm which is farmed by the entire family. Unlike most of the surrounding areas Seneca has been a little dry lately and Lor Ge is hoping for a little rain. They sent a bundle of freshly picked onions and onion tops home with me. Lor Ge told me the flowers on the onion tops are great in stir-fry, they give it a little sweetness. I will give it a try when I get back home. Time for lunch so I head into Seneca and find a great local dinner, I love dinner food and was not disappointed.

My next stop is only about a 30 minute drive to Anderson, MO. Ying Xiong is the owner of this farm and has been in the area for about two years after moving from Minnesota. Since my visit last year Ying has really expanded his operation and has added a green house. All his plants are in and look very healthy. Ying and his wife Nhie have been coming to the market for the past few weeks with onions, assorted greens and lettuces. In addition to growing produce they also raise cattle and have about 60 head. Ying and his family are on the market’s waiting list so will be in a different location each week.

Now I head east of Joplin to Fairview, MO and the farm of Ton and Helen Cha (35 miles). As with many of the new farmers selling at the market the Cha’s operation has also expanded. They have doubled in size since my last visit due in large part to Helen’s parents doing a great deal of the growing. Ton is mainly in charge of taking the produce they grow to the market. In addition to selling produce he also raises turkeys for Butterball. They have added strawberries which were ready to pick so I had to sample one or two.

Only a short 9 mile drive and I am in Purdy, Mo to check a new vendor who has just applied to be a vendor at the market. Mai Thor Yang has planted a few plots but much of what she has planted has been beaten down by the rain. I don’t think she will have enough produce ready this year to justify driving so far to sell it. They have additional acreage which they plan to farm next season to help supplement their income from raising commercial chickens. They have three chicken houses behind their home.

My next stop is to Cleveland, Arkansas to visit the farm of Bill & Audrey Sturtevant. Cleveland is located north of Conway, AR this is a 4 hour drive most of which is sharp 35 mile curves. I had hoped to make it to their farm today but did not get in their area till after dark so will visit them first thing in the morning. I had a little trouble finding a hotel so had to drive past my cutoff to Conway, AR.
Up at 5:00 am and off to see the Sturtavant’s. Cedar Rock Acres has been at the market for four years and is best known for their wonderful grapes, blueberries and strawberries. This season their strawberry crop is not producing as much as they had hoped so Bill will probably not be selling strawberries at the market this season. Blueberries will be ready the first of June and grapes in July. Bill and his son Sheldon are very excited about a new variety of green grape they will be bringing to market this season, they will be sweet and seedless. Cedar Rock Acres is best known for growing the Mars variety which is similar to a concord grape but seedless and a little sweeter. Audrey provided me with a quart of strawberries to snack on, there is nothing better than fresh picked strawberries.

I am back in the truck for four more hours heading north to Gentry, Arkansas (197 miles). I will be meeting five new vendors who all rent a section of land from Dao Moua. Each farmer has their own section of land, similar to a community garden plot but much larger. Houa Lor also farms a section of land in Garfield, AR. Dao Moua, Houa Lor, Me Lor, Xong Lee and Blia Lor are all Hmong farmers originally from Laos. (Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and People's Republic of China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west) Everyone was hard at work when I arrived and were a joy to meet. I look forward to seeing them at the market.

It is getting late in the afternoon and I am heading west towards Tulsa, Oklahoma (73 miles). After maneuvering through all the construction I arrived at a fairly large farm operation, The Yang Farm. I was lucky enough to catch Ying Yang’s daughter at home and she was nice enough to give me a tour of their five hoop houses and gardens. They had a very nice farm and a nice variety of produce.

One more stop and I will be heading back to Kansas City. I have to backtrack 18 miles to Claremore, OK and the See Lao Farm. They have a large backyard garden which even includes about 10 peach trees. I am not sure that they will have enough produce to justify such a long trip to the market.

If I don’t make too many stops I should get back to the market by 9:30 p.m. It has been a great trip, beautiful scenery and great to be able to meet and visit with such wonderful hardworking farmers. Next week I will be heading north.

Farm Inspections May 5 2010

This week I will be checking farms for two days and visiting three states. By the time I get back I will have traveled 1100 miles.

I knew I had a long day ahead of me so I left Kansas City at 6:00 a.m. headed east on 50 hwy to visit a soon to be new vendor at the market. Jill Smith raises longhorn steers and will soon be bringing free range longhorn beef products to the City Market. Jill currently has approximately 57 head, 17 of which are calves. The star of her herd is “Bo” the bull. Although I arrived at Jill’s around 7:00 am she was kind enough to take me out to see the heard on her “gator”. I have never been in the middle of a longhorn heard before and it was very cool.