Friday, June 25, 2010

Farm Inspections June 24, 2010

What a perfect day to be out of the office checking farms. No rain, no storms, no mud and plenty of sunshine. Today I will be checking a new farm in Imogene, Iowa. For those of you who do not know where Imogene is, it is just a little north of the Missouri /Iowa line off highway 59. Razee's Berry Farm is much more than just a berry Farm. Aaron would like to continue to farm into his senior years so has chosen to grow everything in raised beds. He currently has 132 raised beds filled with soil he continues to feed throughout the season. Unlike many of the farms I visit which have weeds choking out the plants, Aarons beds were practically weed free. In addition to growing yellow & red raspberries, blueberries, radishes, rhubarb and tomatoes he has become quite the garlic producer. I was amazed to find out he grows 92 different varieties of garlic. I didn't know there were that many different varieties. Although Razze's Berry Farm is not certified organic Aaron does use organic practices except where his sweet corn is concerned. He rents a parcel of land near the Missouri line to grow sweet corn so if it needs to be sprayed due to a weed or worm problem it will not affect his other produce. Aaron currently sells at the Omaha market on Saturdays and plans to come to the City Market a few times this season on Sunday.

After a quick lunch break I veered into Kansas to see what John Goode was harvesting. Goode Acres is located in Wathena Kansas overlooking the Missouri river. From that vantage point you could really see how close the river is to coming over its banks. John added a large greenhouse last year and has received a grant this year to have a section of his land terraced. He hopes to have it finished in time for some late summer planting. John was getting ready to harvest Yukon gold potatoes which were looking very nice. He has been picking greenhouse tomatoes and lettuce for a while. His Napa cabbage is ready to bring to market as are his beets a few purple peppers and cucumbers. The warm humid weather has really started to make the produce shoot up the last few weeks. John had already planted melons, sweet potatoes, assorted herbs, celery, carrots, cabbage, assorted peppers, zucchini squash and okra. I plan another visit to see how the terracing turned out. Goode Acres is at the market every Wednesday (shed 2), Saturday (shed 1) and Sunday (shed 2).

I had planned to visit Jarred Juhl, who also lives in Wathena, but he wasn't available to show me how to get to his other farm locations. I will have to try again when I am out that way later this summer.

My last stop for the day is in St. Joe at Natures Choice. Fred and Helen Messner are Biodynamic farmers. Biodynamic farming is based on the work of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. In addition to organic practices such as crop rotation and composting, biodynamic farmers rely on special plant, animal and mineral preparation and the rhythmic influences of the sun, moon, planets, and stars. They are at the market every Saturday and most Sundays. Fred loves to talk to his customers and has a wealth of information when it comes to farming. They have been pounded with rain so much the last month that a few of their tomato plants keep ending up in their pond. But like all good farmers you just replant and try again.

Next week I will be heading to Buckner, Missouri.

Just a reminder, talk to the farmers when you visit the market. Don't be afraid to ask questions and get to know who is growing your food.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

City Market Farm Inspections June 17, 2010

Finally I am back on the road again. May and the first of June is always a little crazy at the Market so I needed a few weeks to catch up.

Today's first stop is De Soto, Kansas and Thane Palmberg's Farm. Thane is in the Farmer 100% category, which means he only sells what he grows on his farm. Thane's specialty is growing miniature vegetables, such as eggplant and squash. In addition to a wide variety of produce he also grows a very unique Italian squash which is always a conversation starter at Saturday's market. Thane's family has had stalls at the City Market since 1932 and are currently located in pavilion 1 stalls 18-21 every Saturday.

Since I am so close to Lawrence, Kansas I decide to stop by Anthony's Beehives just south of K-10. Anthony's Beehives is a family operation started by Anthony several years ago with the help of his parents Tony and Terri Schwager. Due to the hard winter we had this year they lost about half of their 200 hives. Tony told me they have recouped a little and currently have about 120 hives in Douglas, Leavenworth and Franklin county. You will find Tony at the Market most Sunday's in shed 3, stall 128.

Last stop for the day is right off 435 and Holiday Drive. This is a fairly new location for Tillery Farms. Randy and Marsha have been coming to the market for many years and are best known as the farmers with the green umbrellas. Like many area farmers they have been struggling to get crops planted between rainstorms continuing to blow through our area. Even with record breaking rainfall, comparable to the 1993 floods, Randy and Marsha only have a little standing water in their fields. Just enough to attract a few wild ducks which have decided to take up residents. Tillery Farms will start coming to the Market this weekend, just look for the green umbrellas.

Just a note, we will have the first sweet corn at the Market this weekend. If you remember the first week I started my farm inspection blog in April I visited Heck Family Farms in Westphalia, Kansas. The corn they started in their greenhouse is ready to pick, about two weeks early.

This week I stayed close to home, next week, if all goes well I am heading to Iowa, Wathena, Kansas and Saint Jo, Missouri.