Thursday, August 19, 2010

Farm Inspections August 19, 2010

I am getting close to finishing up my farm inspections for this season. To date I have visited 80 farms since April 1st. Today I visited Pumpkins Etc. and Grandma Dings Fudge which is located in Platt City, Mo. The fudge part of the business is ran by Kathy and Bill Wright and their daughter Jane or as they are known at the market, "The Fudge People". Kathy and Bill were on vacation so their daughter Jane showed me around. Jane was just starting to determine what fudge needed to be made for the weekend. My favorite is rocky road and their hand made turtles but I think most children enjoy their fudge cones.

If you want to purchase fudge you will have to get it within the next few weeks since the Wright's will be away from the market getting things ready for their annual pumpkin patch. The mums are almost in bloom so we must be getting close to the end of summer. In addition to fudge Bill and Kathy also grow blackberries,tomatoes , green beans, herbs, summer squash, lettuce, greens and cucumbers. Most of these items are already done for the year. If you would like more information and directions to their pumpkin patch visit their web site at

Although I am only checking two farms today I have quit a drive since the second farm is in Rayville, MO, just east of Excelsior Springs.If you are looking for a great place to get a fire oven pizza, try a little local wine and have a beautiful view Van Till Family Farms & Winery is the perfect place. When I first started visiting Cliff and his family in 2004 they had just built the bakery, since then they have added a restaurant, covered patio, vineyard and have started making wine. Today they were busy building a small walking bridge which will be perfect for wedding pictures and will lead visitors out to the pond. They were also busy harvesting their Mars and Reliance table grapes. Although they have expanded into great pizza and wine they have not forgotten how they started by making wonderful artisan breads. For more information visit their web site at

The weather will be heating up again tomorrow so plan to visit the market early on Saturday morning and bring your reusable bags.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Farm Inspections August 12, 2010

I visited farms close to the market this week so I could work on clearing off my desk and get ready for the weekend.

A short 15 minute drive from the market and I was at the farm of Por & Chaxamore Huns in Kansas City, Kansas. No one was available to show me around but I have visited a few times so knew my way around. Like many of the farmers I visit there are numerous bee hives which are placed on a farm by a bee keeper to help pollinate the plants and also provide the bee keeper with wonderful honey. Huns gardens had quite a few and the bees were very active. It appeared that weeds had overtaken much of Pors's farm but after a short walk I could see there were quite a few flowers, sun flowers, bitter melon and hot peppers.

My next stop is just west of Parkville at Dry Lake Farms. I tried not to keep Loyd and Addie to long since they were on there way to the hospital to wait for the arrival of their first grandson. Addie gave me a quick tour of her licensed kitchen where she makes wonderful pies, cookies and sweet rolls. She was particularly proud of her commercial stove which will hold 20 pies. Loyd has had a terrible season this year and you can tell he is really disgusted. Dry Lake Farm runs along a levee, this spring the corp of engineers needed to lower the water level so they flooded out most of his farm for a few weeks. Loyd said the plants can handle a couple days but not weeks so he lost much of what he had planted. Today they started about 6 a.m. picking cherry tomatoes to start to get ready for Saturday's market. Loyd had already plowed under his beet and cabbage crop which was destroyed by the water. Along with baked goods Loyd and Addie will have onions, tomatoes, okra and potatoes at stall 126-128 on Saturday.

Floyd & Mike McFarland's farm is just down the road from the Horn's farm. It seems like every time I visit Mc Farlands Plant Farm the city is doing construction around the entrance of his drive, today was no exception. I found Floyd and his son Mike busy picking cherry tomatoes. The weather was already heating up. Mike has made a fence out of fishing line to help keep deer out of his fields. it is amazing that although a deer could go through the line they turn around when they feel it. Por Huns had soda cans tied to line to keep deer our of his fields. Floyd took a little brake and walked me around his fields. Even with the extreme heat his tomato plants didn't look too bad. In addition to cherry tomatoes they will be bringing tomatoes, okra, eggplant, peppers and onions to the market on Saturday. You will find them in stall 0- 1 - 2 on the south side of the market.

I thought it would be nice to get a brake from the heat and check on a artist/crafter vendor. Sarah Biondo lives in Kansas City, Missouri and works out of her home. Sarah usually sells crocheted items in the fall and winter. This time of year she makes "Granny Greens Laundry Soap" and embellishes hats. Sarah was working on a shawl which she was making on her loom. She also has a knitting machine which she is not too sure she likes, I think she would rather do it the old fashion way. Like most crafters Sarah's supplies have found a way to take over her house, lucky for her she has a basement.

Hope to see you at the Market this weekend. We should have a lot of melons.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Farm Inspections August 12, 2010

I rally had an easy inspection day this week since three of the farms I visited are within a mile of each other.

After answering a few e-mails and returning some phone calls I headed to Odessa, Missouri. My first stop was Busy Bee Acres which is operated by Bob and Liz Harrison. In addition to maintaining numerous bee hives and fruit trees Liz has a group of pet llamas which are strictly kept as pets. They appear to have it pretty good, they even have misters which help to keep them cool during the dog days of August. Liz gave me a tour of their licensed kitchen where they process the honey after it is harvested, very interesting to see. Bob was gone so Liz pointed me towards the beehives and fruit trees. I am sure I was stepping pretty high walking through the tall grass looking out for snakes, sometimes I can be such a city girl.

Out the Harrison's driveway and down the next road and I was at Buds and Berries. I visited Gayle and Gary's other farm in Butler, Missouri a couple months ago. If you have been paying attention to the weather you know that Odessa has really been getting hit with rain this spring and summer. The rain has just washed out all the rows between their melon crop.This makes it really hard to harvest melons, you can't drive your truck out their very easily. I spoke with Gayle at the market on Saturday, she ended up picking the melons and tossing them to Gary one by one. It makes me appreciate the melon I bought this weekend even more.

Just around the corner from the Beachners farm is Pete Economides greenhouse and a small area where he grows a wonderful assortment of peppers and beautiful sunflowers. Pete was working his day job but gave me the okay to walk around. I couldn't resist taking a picture of his pig. (Which I found out was the reason Pete couldn't make it to the market on Sunday. The pig got loose Saturday evening and Pete was up most of the night trying to catch it.)

My next stop was Lexington, Missouri. I felt a little bad dropping in on the Fahrmeiers this week since they had their annual "Tomato Day" on Saturday night. Every time I visit their farm I am amazed at all the changes they make from year to year. This year they were adding solar panels to their winery. Ron gave me a tour of their 12 high tunnels and where they keep their produce to keep it cooled down. The building was once used for keeping sows after they had a litter of pigs. If you have never visited the Fahrmeier Farms I would suggest you do so. They have live music and wine tasting every Thursday night. For more information visit their web site at

It was still pretty early so I thought I would get one more farm inspection in. I headed west past the Market to Kansas City, Kansas to visit the farm of Bao Vang. Vang's Garden starts along the road and just seems to keep on going. I am always surprised how much land lies behind many of the homes in KCK. In addition to growing your normal vegetables Bao grows bitter melons, Asian cantaloupe and Asian rice. I am anxious to see the rice after they harvest it and bring it to the Market to sell. Make sure you checkout the picture of their scarecrow. They are having major deer problems which even the most creative scarecrow can't seem to help them with.

I'm not sure where I will be heading next week. I still have quite a few contracted farmers to visit in addition to the Market's crafters.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Farm Inspections July 29, 2010

I am really behind on posting my latest farm inspection. On Thursday I headed down to Oklahoma again to check a new vendor that will be coming to the market on Sunday and hopefully Saturdays to sell free range pork, beef, chicken, lamb and eggs. Bob, Natash and their son Bobby Shufflebotham will be a great addition to the City Market. Welch, Oklahoma is about a three hour drive from the City Market and I picked a hot and stormy day to make the trip, but the experience was well worth it. Bob was born and raised on a ranch in Wyoming. After working as an Engineer in Russia for a short time decided to settle down in Oklahoma with his wife Natash and purchased 400 beautiful acres which include 7 lakes/ponds. They currently have 60 head of cattle which roam freely. It was so hot on Thursday that all the cattle where hiding out under shade trees scattered throughout the property. Bob and son Bobby gave me a great tour of all their hiding places while teaching me a little about coyotes and a family of badgers that call Oklahoma home. All the livestock are kept in separate large fenced in areas and roam freely. Enjoy all the pictures.

I visited a little longer than I had planned with the Shufflebothams so was only able to visit one more farm on my drive back to Kansas City. I stopped in Nevada, Missouri at another cattle farm. Mark Curtis raises black Angus beef which he lets graze in a couple different pastures. By this time it was raining and lightning pretty good so I was only able to get a few pictures. Mark will hopefully be ready to come to the market fairly soon.

Next week I plan to stay a little closer to home and visit vendors in Odessa. Plan on visiting the market on August 7th for Crazy Corn Days.