Friday, August 26, 2011

Farm Visits August 25, 2011

I just can’t believe it is the end of August already; the summer is just flying by. I have a few farms which I have not visited yet this year so I really need to step it up a bit.

Today is the perfect day to visit farms, the weather is beautiful. I am heading south on 71 highway to visit Gayle and Gary Beachner in Butler, MO. In addition to their farm in Butler, they also farm a large section of land in Odessa, MO where most of the produce is grown. The Butler location is mainly greenhouses where they start their plants and grow greenhouse tomatoes. This is also where most of their asparagus comes from in the spring. When I arrived no one was home and thanks to a dog protecting the farm I was unable to get out of the truck. If you look closely you will see him eyeballing me from the front porch. Every time I tried to step out of the truck he came barreling towards me so I will have to settle for just taking pictures from my truck. You will find Buds and Berries at the Market every Saturday (stall 101-104) and Sunday (stall 69-71).

I have a new vendor to visit in Kansas City, Kansas so I thought I would stop in Belton on the way by and visit Peter and Susan Kohl, KC Buffalo. Usually I am out this way in the early spring and don’t get to see all the baby buffalo. Susan informed me that 53 babies were born so far this year and they are expecting a few more late births. Peter has really expanded his heard, when I first started as Market Master Peter had about 150 head; today he has about 250 head of buffalo roaming his farm. In addition to selling at the City Market the Kohl’s also have a store on their property where customers can stop by and purchase meat on weekdays. It is so worth the drive. KC Buffalo is at the Market every Saturday (stall 87) April through October, and the first Saturday of the month during the winter.

Last stop today is to check out a new farm in Kansas City, Kansas. Abdul Khalifah sent in his application a few weeks ago, I must visit all new vendors farms before they are allowed to rent stall space at the Market. I had a terrible time finding the intersection the farm was located at; I had to call Abdul a couple times. In the end I had to drive into another person’s driveway and follow the gravel drive back to the field behind the house. Abdul told me that he does not use any pesticides and had just gone out that morning to cut down a path to get to the back of his field. Abdul has 40 acres, 20 acres of woods and 20 acres for farming. Before I got out of the truck he warned me that his sheep had gotten out earlier that day and were still on the run. I started down the mowed path and realized that in some spots the weeds were over my head and sheep tracks were everywhere. I just knew at any moment one of the loose sheep would be bounding out of the weeds in my direction. I continued looking for watermelons, okra and tomatoes. I finally found the tomatoes just because I saw the stakes but they were not producing anything. I found a few okra plants which were just starting to bloom and I never could find the melons. Abdul will need to wait till next year’s market.

I won’t be doing my blog or visiting farms next week. September 3rd is the Market’s “For the Love of Meat” celebration and Labor Day weekend which is always super busy. I still have farms to check so will plan on visiting Odessa, MO on the 8th of September.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Farm Visits August 18, 2011

What a beautiful day to head out across the “Flint Hills” of eastern Kansas. For those who have never driven from Kansas City to Manhattan, Kansas you are missing some beautiful country. I stopped at a scenic viewing area just before I reached Manhattan to take some pictures, I am sure they do not do the view justice.

First stop today is at the farm belonging to Barbra Flores. Barbra’s farm has been in her family since 1930 and a fourth generation is now attending the market. Barbra probably farms the most acreage of any of the vendors currently at the market. With the help of her family Barbra farms approximately 300 acres just outside of Manhattan. When I arrived Barbra was just getting ready to leave so I was only able to chat with her for a moment. Since I have been to the farm a few times I just showed myself around. The first field contained long rows of watermelons, cantaloupe, egg plant, tomatoes, corn and assorted peppers. Barbra told me they had just dug up onions earlier that morning. Since Flores Farm is so large they do have employees who were busy sorting large bins of melons to take to some area grocery stores. In addition to this large field, they also farm another section of land about a mile away. In this field Barbra has more melons planted, sweet potatoes and squash. The rows seemed to go on forever. I had to look for the melons under the mass of vines but the plants were loaded. Barbra’s stalls 72-74 are located in shed 2 on both Saturday and Sunday. In addition to produce Flores Farm also sells live chickens, ducks and goats at the exit to the market from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. most Saturdays.

I will only be visiting two farms today since the first stop was 120 miles from the market. Since it is on my way home I will stop by Thane Palmberg’s Farm. Like Barbra, Thanes wife’s family has been coming to the City Market since 1932 and occupying the same stalls 18, 19, 20 & 21. Thane had just left to do some deliveries so I did not get to walk his entire property. Thane falls under the Farmer 100% Grower category, which means he only sells the produce that he grows. Many of the markets vendors supplement some of the produce they bring to the market. It has to be within our 500 mile radius and cannot be more that 50% of the produce they are bringing to the market that day. I am sorry I missed Thane; I will have to visit another time.

Next week I might visit a couple of the crafters that sell at the market.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Farm Visit and the Missouri State Fair August 10, 2011

I am very excited today to be heading to Sedalia to the Missouri State Fair. Tony Anderson, with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, contacted me back in February to see if I would be interested in being the judge for the Horticulture Contest at the State Fair this year. You Bet! For those of you who have never attended the fair, it is held every August in Sedalia at the fairgrounds. Sedalia is an hour and a half drive from the City Market just east on highway 50. When I arrived about 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning the fairgrounds were bustling with activity. Different organizations where busy hauling in their supplies for the 10 day event, August 11-21.

I met Tony in the Agriculture Building and got busy judging the basket category. There were three different basket categories, Farmers’ market/Community Garden, Commercial or Market Grower Basket and the Home Grown Basket display. I had to pick a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner with prizes ranging from $200- $30.

Judging the baskets was a little tough but nothing compared to judging the tables of produce. There were nine categories to judge, Vegetables, Heirloom Tomatoes, Root Vegetables, Pumpkins/Squash/Gourds, Melons, Tomatoes, Sweet Corn, Most Unusual Fruit or Vegetable and Fruit. My favorite categories to judge were the Melon and Tomatoes since I just had to try them all. The winning melon was WONDERFUL! It took about two and a half hours to work my way through the categories and I had a great time.

Before heading out of the fair I took a few minutes to walk around the grounds and check out all the rides, assortment of food and the animal barns. I am sure the place will be hopping when the gates open on Thursday. For more information go to

Since I was already half way to Fortuna I thought I would visit one farm before I headed home. Not too far off highway 5 south of Tipton is a beautiful nursery ran by Betsy Nolt. Betsy’s specialty is crape myrtle’s, she has 53 varieties in all colors and sizes. The plants have really been struggling with all the heat but still looked beautiful. The butterfly bushes were covered with butterflies; the picture does not do them justice. Betsy is really struggling with coming to the City Market or not. It is about a 3 hour drive and she will have to pay a driver for the day add that to the price of gas and stall fees and you really would have to sell a lot of perennials and house plants. Hopefully things will work out; I think Betsy and her family would be wonderful additions to the Market.

Time to head back to Kansas City since I have a long drive ahead of me. Not sure where I will be heading next week, possibly Manhattan Kansas.

Friday, July 29, 2011


I made a mistake when I listed Dan Heryer and Brook Salvaggio's web site. The correct web site is

Farm and Crafter Visit July 28, 2011

I was a bit of a lite weight this week and opted to stay close to home and inside as much as possible. When the temperature gets to be 100 plus it is the perfect time to visit one of the markets contracted artist /crafter vendors. The vendors in this category are required to make the items they sell at the market so every now and then I stop by and watch them work on the items they sell each week. In addition to watching them work I also check to make sure they have the supplies it takes to create the finished product.

Terri Mick, Terri's Designs, is known at the market as the "embroidery lady". Terri makes beautiful purses, backpacks, diaper bags,aprons, embroidered t-shirts and sweatshirts. Each item can be made to order and even include the name of your favorite someone or your business. Terri is constantly coming up with new and unique items to bring to the market and has a very cute gift idea for Christmas. (Just a reminder, many of the craft vendors set-up at the market every Saturday through Christmas.)I was fascinated to see how Terri's embroidery machine works. I had always thought that you just needed to program the design in and walk away, I found out I was mistaken. Terri has to constantly monitor the machine in case the thread breaks or the color of the thread needs to be changed. Terri's work space is filled with piles of assorted materials sorted by color and theme, beads, purse handles, ribbon and a few unique items waiting to be turned into something wonderful. Terri is at the market every Saturday on the east side of the market square.

I really hated to leave Terri's air conditioned house but I want to check a farm today before I go home. Dan Heryer and Brook Salvaggio better known as the owners of Bad Seed Market located in mid town have been coming to the market off and on since 2008. Dan has had an abundance of produce so has been coming to the market on Sunday for the last few weeks. When I first met Dan and Brook they were farming in a residential area on Bannister road. Due to many zoning issues they opted to relocate to an area a little farther out of the city. In doing so they were able to have some livestock and expand the amount of produce they are able to grow. I was very upset to hear that they lost their goats to a pack of wild dogs this year. There seems to be so many ups and downs in farming. As Dan walked me through their fields it was pretty evident that the heat and deer are taking it's toll on their tomato crop. We were both surprised to see a deer in the middle of the field in broad daylight. Dan will be at the market this coming Sunday, you can't miss his stall, his display of fresh produce is always very nice. For more information about Bad Seed visit their web site at

If you are looking for fresh corn, tomatoes, peppers or green beans you will need to visit your favorite farmers' market this weekend. The heat and lack of rain is destroying many of these items. The only thing that seems to be doing really well are eggplant, squash and okra.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Farm Visits July 21, 2011

I was really hoping the weather would break before it was time to go out and visit farms this week, but no such luck. I only have two farms to check today, both are located north of Kansas City.

My first stop is east of Trenton, Missouri off highway 65. Lewis and Marie Kamphefner were regulars at the market quit a few years ago, you might remember Strawberry Lane Farm. Marie's family has farmed their land since 1898 and has seen their share of floods due to the "Muddy Creek" which meanders through their farm. Years ago the creek was straightened and does not cause too many problems anymore. Strawberry Lane sells at the Saturday Weston Farmers' market and plans to sell at the City Market on Sunday's once their tomatoes start to ripen. In addition to tomatoes their acorn and zucchini squash are doing well, bugs are starting to feast on the leaves of their Kohlrabi and they have planted a second crop of cucumbers and assorted onions. I had a hard time seeing the row of carrots due to the tall weeds but in this heat the weeds helps to protect the plants from the scorching sun.

I really enjoyed my visit with Marie and Lewis who sent me on my way with a very tasty loaf of chocolate zucchini bread which I need to remember to get the recipe for.

My second and last stop of the day is in Hale, Missouri. There is really no good way to get to Hale without doing a lot of backtracking. Bryson's Farm Fresh produce is a family operation and today Joe's son and grandson were on hand to show me around. The heat is definitely starting to take its toll on the tomato plants in the green houses. The plants are looking a little ruff but are covered with green tomatoes. The black berry bushes look great and are thick with berries. Joe will be transplanting more bushes next spring so hopes to continue to increase the amount of berries he can bring to market. Yesterday they spent hours watering their cantaloupe field, they do not have water available for their watermelon crop so will more than likely loose it. Many of the vegetable plants are hiding among the weeds which seems to be the case with most farmers that do not use pesticides or at least very little. Joe is in the farmer with local supplement category at the market, so 50% of the produce he sells can come from neighboring farms. An Amish family provides Joe with some of the supplemented produce he brings to the market.

I am hot and dirty so very happy to head for home. Not sure where I will head next week, I still have some farms to check as well as crafters. Maybe I can visit a few of each next Thursday.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Farm Visits July 14, 2011

After a few very busy weeks at the market I thought I better get back on the road and visit a few farms. Today was a little challenging since I had trouble getting from point A to point B thanks to the Missouri River. Twice today I had to back track due to flooded roads.

I will be revisiting a few farms today since I visited them in the spring when most of their vegetable plants were still in the greenhouses waiting for the soil to warm up. My first stop today will be to visit a new vendor who has patiently been waiting for me to make it too his farm. Eric Lockard has been farming his farm in Higginsville for the last 2 ½ years and has three acres of corn ready to bring to the market. He had planted three varieties this season, one of which is already done and not a crop that Eric was very happy with. I was so busy taking pictures of the corn that I almost walked right into his electric fence. One of those times when it is obvious I am a city girl. Eric has been battling raccoons in his corn fields even with the electric fence; he has started setting live traps and has caught 8 so far. In addition to corn the Lockards have a small garden mainly for their own use. This garden consists of apple, pear and peach trees, blueberry bushes, tomatoes, peppers and his sons Indian corn. Eric will be at the market on the daily waiting list so his location will more than likely change weekly.

Not too far from the Lockard farm, just east of Higginsville, is Peacock farm. Betty’s farm is one I checked earlier in the spring. Betty was able to get a grant to have a commercial kitchen installed which she will be able to rent out by the hour. They are getting very close to getting it done, in fact tomorrow the lighting, floorboards and phone lines will be installed. Once the equipment is installed they will be ready to go. An open house for the kitchen is scheduled for August 6th and 7th. Betty’s husband Kenneth gave me the grand tour of the farm. Peacock farm has also been having trouble with raccoons, they are killing their chickens. They have caught two in their live traps but know there are many more still lurking around. I think the weeds are getting the best of Betty’s vegetables, but maybe they are also helping to keep the plants shaded. Kenneth had just picked zucchini yesterday; there were plenty of cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, fresh herbs, carrots and cone cabbage. In addition to vegetables Peacock farm also sells farm fresh eggs at the market, but with the extreme heat we have been having they are not laying very many eggs.

I wasn’t planning on checking a peach orchard today but I received a call asking me if I could check their farm since I was in the area. Sherry and Matt Thorp farm 10 acres of peaches in Waverly, Missouri and raise 23 different varieties. They normally sell most of their peaches at their roadside country store “Mother Earth” but due to all the flooding many of the roads are closed and customers are unable to easily find their store. Sherry had me follow her in the markets truck through the peach orchards, the peaches looked wonderful. Some of the trees were producing so many peaches that the branches were breaking off; Sherry told me they did not get pruned enough last year. As I stood in front of their home I noticed all the beetles flying around the yard. Matt told me they burrow into the peaches and do quite a bit of damage to the peach crop. If beetles weren’t enough they also have fruit bats which bite into the peaches and hang on, unbeknown to the person picking them . Okay maybe the raccoons aren’t so bad. Mother Earth is located just west of Waverly, Missouri on highway 24.

I had planned to visit Fahrmeier Farm today but part of 24 highway is under water so it can wait till another day. Due to all the roads and some bridges being out I have to take the long way to Buckner, Missouri and Frye Farms. I caught Marlin and his family taking a much deserved lunch break when I arrived, it was nice to have a chance to visit with them and have a nice cold glass of ice tea. Marlin showed me the greenhouse which was full of tomato plants, most of which were green since they had already picked some yesterday. Behind the greenhouse was a new area they were working on the last time I visited the farm. They had built planting beds which were now full of 1200 tomato plants and green peppers. The eggplant was not in planting beds and looked a little sad, they had been hammered with rain and not doing very good. Marlin will probably plant squash in its place. I was happy when Marlin offered to drive to the 10 acre field where they are growing pumpkins, cantaloupe and watermelons. His van had air-conditioning, my truck does not. The fields were too wet to drive into but you could still see the plants and rows. Hopefully the cantaloupe will be ready in the next two weeks. I almost forgot to mention that the Frye’s also raise sorghum and have an event on their farm the first of October where you can watch them turn it into syrup, so mark your calendars.

Next Thursday I will be heading north to Trenton and Hale Missouri. I am hoping the heat wave breaks by then.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Farm Visits June 23, 2011

I think everyone in the office was a little jealous today when I left to do farm visits since the weather was beautiful, much to nice to be inside. As I drove over the Broadway Bridge I couldn’t believe how much the river had risen since yesterday.

Today I am heading north to King City, MO. For those of you who have never gotten the chance to drive along 31 highway between King City and 169 you are missing quite a site, there are miles of huge wind turbines as far as you can see. I just think they are really beautiful to watch. Donna Clausen, Lost Creek Farm, told me they turn into the wind and turn off whenever there is a storm passing through. The ones located by their house are very quiet but Donna said they have a different kind down the road which are a little louder. I guess you would get use to the sound after a while. Donna was busy baking when I arrived and het kitchen smelled heavenly. Donna has an inspected kitchen located in a separate building across from her home. It is very nice and supper clean. Darrel has added a new building this year to house their chickens. As soon as they start laying they will be bringing brown eggs to the market. Donna had 20 minutes before her timer went off so she walked me through the six acres they farm. In addition to wonderful baked goods, her pies are to die for, they grow potatoes, green & red cabbage, snow peas, green beans, assorted greens, beets, onions and tomatoes. Their fields looked great thanks to a couple of the neighbor girls who help with the weeding. Lost Creek farm is at the market every Saturday in the first shed on the south side of the market closest to 5th street.

I can’t resist stopping in Stewartsville on my way to Plattsburg. Just off highway 36is Bread of Life bakery. As always everyone was busy baking but took a few minutes to visit with me. Bread of life is a family bakery which has been part of the City Market for the past 9 years. They are known for their gluten free baked goods and they grind some of the flour they use in their breads. For more information about Bread of Life visit their web site at or stop by and see them every Saturday and Sunday in the middle farmers shed.

Once I get to Plattsburg and cross a few streams I arrive at Windy Ridge Greenhouse & Produce. William is busy mowing but takes a break to give me the grand tour. You might remember the pictures from my blog last summer when the Hank’s had a tornado go through their farm and destroy a couple of their green houses. The Hank’s will still have some beautiful hanging baskets available at the market on Saturday if you already forgot to water the ones you bought in early May. They will also have hibiscus and other assorted perennials. William is not really happy with his broccoli or cabbage right now but hopes they will perk up soon. His cauliflower has already started to turn a little yellow so they tied the leaves around the heads to keep it white; I learn something new every day. This year William’s son Bill, his wife Clara and daughter in law planted two rows of heirloom tomatoes, they looked great. Bill came across a cantaloupe seed which will produce after 54 days, so if everything is perfect in the universe the Hank’s should be bringing cantaloupes to the market the 2nd or 3rd week of July. A few of the plants already had a few small melons on the vines. William’s watermelon patch was looking pretty good depending on the variety and size of melon, each plant can produce 6 to 10 melons. I can’t wait till local melons make it to the market. If all goes well the Hank’s will get all their pumpkin plants in tomorrow. The farthest field had more tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers and squash. The Hank’s are at the market every Saturday in the middle shed.

Last stop for the day will be in Gower at the farm of Jim Hedgecock. Jim is expanding a little this year and adding heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers and squash to his stall on Saturday. Jim is known around the market as the “Iris Guy” since he grows acres of irises and has a big mail order business. Jim is in the farmer with local supplement category and supplements his stall with local apples from Lexington, MO in September. Jim had 70 tomato plants in the ground and they were looking pretty good. If all goes well he plans to add more vegetables next year. Comanche Acres Iris Garden is in the first shed on the south side of the market every Saturday.

Sorry for the lack of pictures this week, my camera decided not to work while I was at Lost Creek Farm, I will make sure it is up and going before I head out again.

I am taking a week off from farm visits next week since we are coming up on the markets “Groovalicious Fruit” celebration and 4th of July weekend, which is always really busy. After the holiday I plan on rechecking some of our vendors which I visited in the spring.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Farm Visits June 16, 2011

Today I head south for my yearly visit to southern Missouri. Each year I receive more and more calls from farmers who live in this area. Many of them have relocated to this area from Minnesota, I am sure it is for the longer growing season and to escape the long cold winters. Deb Churchill, Property Manager for the City Market, will be co piloting for me today.

I always try to plot out my day ahead of time so the last farm I visit is on the way home. First stop today will be in Diamond, Missouri about two and a half hours south of Kansas City. A Mouacheupao has patiently been waiting for me to check her farm so she can start selling at the market. When we first pull into her drive I am thinking we have the wrong place, we drive past many commercial chicken houses before we spot the farm. A Mouacheupao shows us the three plots of land she has planted. The first section has a few rows of corn, onions and squash, she will be plowing up the unused section to plant another crop of tomatoes, hopefully by June 22nd. The second section is a little larger and planted with green and yellow squash, kohlrabi, cabbage, cucumbers, beets and a lot of potatoes. A has been gone for a few weeks visiting her son and was surprised how much things had grown and that her plants had not been watered. The last area is mostly flowers and an assortment of vegetables way too numerous to mention. A Farm will probably start coming to the market the end of June on the daily waiting list.

Next stop Seneca, Missouri which borders the Oklahoma border. James and Mai showed Deb and I one of their fields which is always very well maintained and pretty weed free. Deb could not resist taking pictures of the cow pies we had to maneuver around; you don’t see that in the city. In addition to the field we looked at they have a field at the back of the property and one down the road a piece. Mai told me they planted additional produce this year to sell to Freedom Hospital in Joplin. The only damage Lee Family Farm had the day of the Joplin tornado was hail damage to their plants, but it did not cause too much damage. The Lee farm grows a wonderful selection of produce, even one plant that no one can remember the name of. The leaves are used as tea or a great addition to chicken soup. They apparently planted it once and now it comes up sporadically in the field. The Lee family is at the market every Saturday in stalls 116, 117 & 118.

Back in the truck and head down the road to Anderson, Missouri and the farm of Ying and Nhia Xiong. I have been visiting their farm for three or four years and it gets bigger each year. The first time I visited this farm I had a terrible time finding it. You have to drive down a grassy lane, through a cattle gate and through the field before you come to the farm. Nhia has three separate fields located on either side of his property. When we arrived they were busy picking green beans, which from what I hear from all the vendors this is one of their least favorite things to pick. Nhia has lined all the rows with black plastic to help cut back on the amount of weeds they have to deal with. Everything looked beautiful and they also grow the “no name plant” and can’t remember what it is called. Ying and Nhia drives three hours to the market every Saturday and are located in stalls 84, 85 & 86.

We start heading east to Fairview, Missouri, I have two farms located here. Ton and Helen Cha have two locations they farm, the first field was planted but was not yet producing any produce. Helen told me Ton was busy working in the other location off highway 86. Ton was busy picking the lasts rows of spinach before he tills it and replants. The Cha Family farm is definitely battling the weeds, and in some areas I think the weeds are winning. Ton had a new hoop house that was full of tomato plants covered with tomatoes which should be ready to pick next week. In addition to growing produce Ton also has three turkey houses where he raises turkeys for Butter Ball. The Cha Family Farm comes to the market on the daily waiting list so their location varies week to week.

The second vendor who lives in Fairview is Mailor Vang. Mailor has been to the market a few times this year and will probably be coming again this weekend. Mailor has just added a new section of red raspberries to her field in addition to the 30 or so bushes she already had in last year, they should be coming on soon. As with all the vendors today the list of vegetables they raise are way too long to put in this blog. Although their farm was not as large as some of the others I visited today, she has a nice variety and things were looking pretty good. Like Ton, Mailor is also on the daily waiting list.

I want to check a vendor in Purdy, Missouri which I checked last year and really did not see much produce planted and what was planted looked really bad. I was a little scared to get out of the truck since I had two dogs standing at my door, one of which did not look to friendly. I could not get a hold of anyone in the hose so had to check things out from the road. Things looked much better this year. Mai Thor Yang has not come to the market yet this year but at least I know she actually has something growing this year.

Last stop in Sarcoxie, Missouri and a new farmer who contacted me on Wednesday, luckily I had already planned to come down this way. Cha Fue Lor is originally from Kansas City but moved to Sarcoxie about ten years ago. This is his first year planting produce on his 40 acre farm and has really done a great job. He is a little discouraged since he had planned to sell his produce at the Joplin Farmers’ Market, but since the market was destroyed in the tornado he has not had a market to sell at. I hope he does well at the City Market. Cha also grew the “no name plant” and can’t remember what it is called; I think it must be a secret. We were just getting ready to walk out of the field when Cha showed me a plant that looks like corn but is actually sticky corn and the ears are sometimes black, I can’t wait to see this at market.

By the time we got back to Kansas City we had driven 475 miles and had been gone for 13 hours. Boy I am ready to call it a day. I am not sure where I will be heading next Thursday but I am sure it will be a little closer to home.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Farm Visits June 9, 2011

Today I am staying pretty close to Kansas City but will visit eight farms. My first two stops will be in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

Randy Tillery’s farm is located along the Kansas River which I am sure he is hoping will stay in its banks this summer. Last year when I visited Randy’s farm he had so much standing water in part of his field that a family of ducks had taken up residency. This year it looked beautiful, as did all the farms I visited since weeds have not started to take over the plants yet. No one was working in the fields yet so I just roamed through the rows enjoying the cool breeze and the sight. Randy has a great variety of produce planted but is known for his melons, assortment of peppers and sweet potatoes. Randy has not yet started coming to market this season but should be back towards the end of June in stalls 46 and 47, just look for the green umbrellas.

My next stop is actually near downtown Bonner Springs. I was a little leery getting out at Herb Lee’s farm, I was not sure if his dog was friendly or not so I gave him a call and luckily he was home. I don’t get much of a chance to visit with vendors when they are at the market since everyone is way too busy, so it was nice to have a chance to chat with Herb. Herb’s family has been at the market since he was a small toddler; he is now in his 70’s. He use to farm 30 acres but since he has gotten older has downsized to farming 8 acres and leasing out part of his land. Herb used to be a big sweet potato grower but will probably not plant any this year, he does have potatoes from last fall which he has stored in his basement over the winter. Herb was a little late getting his plants in but has greens ready for market. You will find Lee’s Vegetable Wonderland in the middle shed in stalls 57, 58 & 59 most Saturdays.

Now I head towards Kansas City, Kansas to check a new vendor, Nhiaxiong Herr. They are not home but give me permission to walk back to their garden. Nhiaxiong has not started coming to the market yet but should be ready latter this month. Nhiaxiong has everything planted on a hill side, from the road you would not even relies there was a garden there. Nhiaxiong will be on the daily waiting list on Saturday and maybe Sunday. They have eggplant, squash, green onions, cilantro, lemon grass, zucchini, okra, cucumbers and cut flowers.

Just down the road I stop at the new location of Hmong Vaj Vang Farm. Last year Chiong farmed on the north side of KCK, this location is much larger, about ten acres. What a beautiful farm, a mixture of vegetable plants, herbs and flowers. Chiong gives me a tour and explains some of the plots are tended by family members. They all get together to tend their plots and to visit with their family. What a great way for a family to stay close. Trellises are ready for climbing squash, Chiong reuses the trellises each year, many farmers take them down each year, till up the ground and then reassembles them. What a lot of work! You will see pictures of vegetable plants that are covered with yellow flowers; Chiong lets the plants flower so they can collect the seeds for next season. Another interesting thing I learned today. Chiong grows sweet potatoes, not for the potatoes but for the leaves. He tells me they are very good. Vaj Vang Farm is at the Market every Saturday and Sunday, stalls 68 and 92 on Saturday and 86 on Sunday.

I always love visiting my next vendor; she grows the most beautiful flowers. See Vang is also in Kansas City, Kansas not far from Parallel Parkway. I was happy to see that See had expanded her garden this year to include more vegetables. This year her stalls will include Lettuce, green onions, sweet peas, okra, eggplant, squash and cucumbers. Enjoy the pictures of her beautiful flowers. See is at the Market every Saturday and Sunday in stalls 135 & 136 on Saturday and 82 & 83 on Sunday.

My next Stop was only a few blocks away at the farm of Choua Lor, John Vang and Cha Vang. As with Choing Vang’s family, many of the relatives’ have a section of land they farm with other family members. The Vang’s farm reminds me of a large patchwork quilt. The square sections of plants and flowers just flow along the hillside. It is really beautiful. I only saw one person in the field who was very busy working and I really did not want to disturb her. I have been at this farm many times so I just continued to follow the narrow path which leads to the bottom of the valley. This is why I truly love the days I visit the vendors farms. It is always very peaceful and the plants have a beauty all their own.

Cha Vang has another section of land behind their house but I need to get to Parkville, Missouri before it gets too late, so I will save it for another time.

I head south down 435 towards the 45 highway intersection, you can’t miss Floyd and Mike McFarland’s farm in the outskirts of Parkville, Missouri. McFarland plant farm is known for their flowers and vegetable plants in the early spring, but this time of year they are focusing on growing produce. I never stop by the McFarland’s when I don’t find them hard at work in their fields. (Except when Floyd is bowling) Mike has added Napa cabbage to their long list of vegetables this year, Napa cabbage is a brighter green than the normal cabbage you see. Floyd is trying something new this year, he is separating each variety of tomatoes he grows; I think he told me this would help stop cross pollination. I learn something new every week. McFarland Plant Farm is at the Market every Saturday through most of November if we don’t get an early frost. They are in the first shed closest to 5th street in stalls 0, 1 & 2.

My main reason for going to Parkville this week was to visit Lloyd and Addie Horn. Dry Lake Farm is named after the road the farm is on, the farm might be anything but dry in the next few days. The Horn’s farm along the Missouri River and live on the other side of the levee and a small lake. They lost their home in the floods of ’93 and stand a good chance of doing so again this summer. Addie has a commercial bakery in their home where she bakes wonderful pies, cookies and rolls which go very fast on Saturday’s. Lloyd has already rented storage units in town in case they need to start hauling out Addie’s baking equipment. I can’t imagine what it must be like to not be able to do anything but wait and hope we don’t get too much rain. Lloyd has planted 600 cherry tomato plants which should start producing in the next two weeks; he might not ever get a chance to pick them. If the flood waters don’t breech the levee the water could still kill his plants from underneath and rot the roots. With all this going on Lloyd was still his normal cheery self, and explained the two basic types of tomatoes were basically vines or bushes. Lloyd pointed out what he had planted in each row as we sat at a picnic table under a big shade tree. I just can’t get past the idea that this could all be gone within a week. If all goes well you will find Dry Lake Farm in the 3rd shed north side of the Market every Saturday and maybe Sunday, just look for the pies.

Let’s hope for just a little rain to make the crops grow but not so much that they wash away.

Next Thursday I will be heading down to Southern Missouri with Deb Churchill as my co-pilot.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I am so glad I wasn’t out yesterday doing farm visits with all the tornado warnings all over the state. I picked a beautiful day to be out of the office. I didn’t get going till late morning so will only visit four farms today.

Last week I stopped by Bao Vangs house but didn’t want to just roam around their back yard without anyone being home, so I went back today. Bao has a small greenhouse behind her home which is still full of plants they haven’t got in the ground yet. They have a large wood trellis which will soon support snake gourds and bitter gourds. Even though it is still early they have a nice selection of sweet peas, lettuce, Chinese cabbage and tall and baby bok choy. In addition to produce Bao will also be selling cut flowers at the market on Saturday. The cosmos are already blooming and are beautiful. I had to just stop and enjoy the beautiful fragrance of honeysuckle as I walked through their back gate. The fence was thickly draped with the beautiful vines full of blooms. The lower section of their property is planted with various flowers such as zinnia, sun flowers, gladiolas, bachelor buttons, crow comb and status flowers. They are just starting to come up; I would love to see the hillside when everything is in bloom. Bao will be a vendor on the daily waiting list so her stall will be different each week she is at the market. She plans on coming around mid to late June.

I thought I would be at my next location in no time at all. Little did I know that many of the streets in KC, KC don’t go from north to south without dead ending many times. After a few shout outs to Sai Lee for directions I finally made it to her house. Sai’s garden is located at the rear of her property. Sai is planning to come to the market this weekend with green onions, greens, lettuce, radishes and maybe cilantro. Over the next few months her tomatoes, green beans, chili peppers, garlic, lemon grass and assorted squashes should be ready. Lemongrass is a plant similar to thick grass which is used to give foods a lemon flavor; this is used in many Southeast Asian meals.

After grabbing a quick sandwich I headed north on I-29 to Wathena, Kansas. Wathena is home to two City Market vendors John Goode and Jared Juhl. I am stopping at John’s farm first and caught him just as he was getting ready to leave. Luckily he was able to give me a tour of his new hoop house. John was able to get a hoop house last year through a grant. John also received a grant to have his hillside terraced; I can’t believe the change in his farm. A few years ago Goode Acres expanded their operation to include cut apple wood which can be purchased in bags at the market. All the cold crops are located at the top of the hill and include green and red cabbage, collard greens, lettuce, snap peas and potatoes which are just starting to produce. The first hoop house we come to has rows of beats along the inner walls, dill, peppers and assorted herbs. The field next to the hoop house has plastic in each row which John and his help do by hand without the help of any machines; I am thinking that might be on the top of his wish list. The lower field has a cover crop in it right now but will soon be planted with winter squash. The farthest field from the house has been planted with 2500 garlic plants which are earmarked for various restaurants.

When I first started visiting Goode Acres John had one small greenhouse behind his house, he has since added a hoop house and a green house. He hopes to add another hoop house yet this year. Goode Acres is at the market every Saturday (shed one), Sunday (shed two) and Wednesday (shed two) now through October.

I am a little leery heading out to Jared Juhl’s house. It is located on a dirt road and I am not really sure how much rain they got yesterday and if I will be able to get down it. Luckily the road was in good condition. Jared’s greenhouse door was open and the radio was blaring but I could not find Jared anywhere. After taking a few pictures I was startled when a not so happy dog came out of the tall grass next to the green house. I think I was a little too close to a new litter of puppies. I bolted to the truck and called it a day.

I won’t be visiting farms next week because of a short holiday work week,(yea!) a Friday night concert and the “Get Your Sweet on Celebration” on June 4th. Hope everyone has a safe and fun holiday weekend.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Farm Visits May 19, 2011

As I drove through the pouring rain this morning I had to keep telling myself we need the rain, but boy am ready for some warm weather. Today I am visiting farms belonging to new vendors. I decided to head to Fort Scott, Kansas first and finish up in Kansas City, Kansas.

Dennis Clayborn and his wife were looking for a Sunday market to sell at and thought the City Market would be a good fit. Clayborn Farms is located north of Fort Scott off 69 highway. Luckily when I arrived the rain had let up to a mist so I was able to take the grand tour. The Clayborn’s farm 160 acres and seem to be a little farther along than farms located north of Kansas City. Last year Dennis decided to change gears, sell his dairy cows and focus on growing produce. From what I saw they are doing a good job of it. I am always amazed when I hear how many vegetable plants a farmer plants. Dennis and Linda have planted 1100 bell peppers, 7500 tomato plants,14 eighteen foot rows of green beans, 7 rows of green onions all this in addition to okra, radishes, cabbage, cantaloupe, hot peppers, canning pickles, squash, beets and assorted greens. Dennis planted an early variety of corn which should be ready around the 15th of June, that is if the sun ever comes out and the temperature raises a little. No matter what, it always comes down to Mother Nature. I know I speak for everyone when I say we can’t wait.

Linda showed me a variety of sugar snap peas which are bushier plants so don’t need to be staked. The peas should be coming on soon. I am so glad I had my boots on today, I actually thought they were going to get sucked off a few times. I hope we don’t get too much rain; no one will be able to get into their fields. Dennis and Linda plan on being at the market this coming Sunday, look for them in the third shed.

Now I am off to Kansas City, Kansas and Amy X. Lo's farm. Her farm is up a lane which overlooks I-70. After walking through the fields I decided I would come back in a few weeks. All the fields are tilled, sectioned off and planted but nothing is really coming up yet. Again, we need a little more sun. I started to back down the lane and realized my next stop was at the same location. Pheng Her farms the front section and Amy farms the back. Pheng's specialty is cut flowers and herbs and Amy grows a variety of radishes, pickles, cilantro, green onions, peppers and lemon grass. I can’t wait to see it once everything comes in.

The one thing about having so many vendors in one area, I don’t have to drive far before I get to the next farm. Bao Vang came to the market last season but has changed farm locations. No one was home so I will come back again in a few weeks.

Last stop Vanna Her, I was sorry to hear that Vanna would not be coming back to the market this season. Last year her sister helped her with the farm but has moved away from Kansas City so she will just be growing vegetables for her and her family.

I am cutting my day short since I am almost out of gas, wet and muddy. I will head out again next Thursday, not really sure which direction I will be going, maybe towards St. Joe.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Farm Visits May 12, 2011

I missed a week of farm visits due to last weekend’s Flower Power Celebration which was a busy day at the market. I am back on the road today along with Deb Churchill who is the Property Manager at the Market. Deb goes on a few visits each year and I really enjoy the company.

My first stop this morning is in Hale, Missouri, I will be visiting Joe Bryson’s farm. Joe has been a vendor at the market for many years and has stalls on both Saturday and Sunday. Today Joe was hard at work along with his son and grandson. I had expected to be walking through a lot of mud today since we got drenched in Kansas City on Wednesday night but Hale just got a few sprinkles and a lot of wind. So it was no wonder they had their sprinklers going trying to perk up some of the plants they had just transplanted. In the first green house I found rows of garlic and red radishes, the next green house was full of tomatoes which were blossoming and covered with green tomatoes. Joe has been working for a few years on getting blueberry bushes going; they looked pretty nice this year. Their red raspberries and blackberry patches needed a lot of work which I am sure is not a very fun job. Joe has installed a new green house this year which is really nice and full of a variety of lettuce. The Bryson's have plans for expanding their farm a little more next year. Currently they have 30 acres but are not farming all of it. You will find Bryson’s Farm Fresh Produce in shed one stalls 36-38 on Saturday and shed two stalls 90 & 91 on Sunday. For more information visit their web site at

After getting back on highway 65 I headed north to Princeton, Mo to visit Tim and Maryanna Medford. Tim is fairly new to farming and is learning as he goes. Last year was High Point Farms first year at the market and such a success that this year they have increased what they have planted. In addition to summer and winter squash, Armenian cucumbers, oriental cucumbers, Swiss chard, kale, tomatillos, hot/sweet peppers and tomatoes Tim has added shiitake and wine cap mushrooms. The shiitakes might be ready by fall and the wine caps possibly by June. I thought it was very cool that Tim was capturing rain water to use on his plants and I loved the planting beds. The Medford family should be back to the market in a couple weeks in shed three stalls 132 & 145. For more information follow them on face book at "High Point Farms"

I want to start heading back to Kansas City so will stop in Jameson, Missouri next. I always get a little nervous when I visit Dan and Esther Hughes especially after a rain. The lane leading down to their farm is nothing like driving around the city and I never know if I will be able to get back up the hill. I found Ester busy in one of their two greenhouses getting ready for this weekend’s market. Songbird Creek Farm is located in shed two stalls 78-80 every Saturday and for the next two weeks they will be selling vegetable plants. Although they have already planted okra, cabbage, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, radishes, beets, Chinese cabbage and tomatoes (I know I am forgetting something!) they are thinking they might have a little gap before their produce is ready. As always it will depend on the weather.

After making it back up their lane I headed south on highway 13 to Kingston, Missouri. I am visiting a new vendor who would like to start coming to the market about mid June. All new vendors’ farms must be checked before they can ever sell at the market. Bruce and Linda Trammell are also fairly new to farming but seem to be off to a good start. Bruce already had 560 potatoes in and a high tunnel full of tomatoes. With the help of his wife Linda he was also able to get a variety of peppers and lettuce in as well. I got a little side tracked and had to take a picture of his beautiful horses. Watch for Tomatoes and More to be at the market soon.

Next week I plan to stay close to home and visit all of our vendors who live in Kansas City, Kansas.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Farm Check April 28, 2011

What a beautiful day to hit the road for my first full day of farm visits. I usually check vendor's farms or crafter's home every Thursday April through September. All new City Market vendors must be checked prior to renting a stall at the market. Continual farm checks help to insure that the produce you are purchasing under one of the three farmer sheds is local produce. Local for the City Market means within a 500 miles radius of the market May through September. In the winter months, October through April, at least 50% of a vendors produce must be within 500 miles of the market and 50% can be from Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas, Illinois and Oklahoma. This winter radius is necessary since the City Market is open year round.

My first stop today is at the farm of Don & Jeanette Neal. Bristle Ridge Farm is just south of Warrensburg in Leeton, MO. The Neal’s have been coming to the market since 2009, this year they have a Saturday and Sunday contract. Their Saturday location will be in the third shed on the north side of the market in stalls 113 & 114. On Sundays you will find them in the middle shed in stalls 57, 58 & 59.

When I arrived at Bristle Ridge Farm I found Don busy working on their new home. Last year while Don and Jeanette were at the Sunday market they received a call that their house was on fire. By the time they arrived back to Leeton they had lost everything. The new house is coming along nicely just not fast enough. Don walked me through their two greenhouses where they start the plants. They also use these greenhouses for the bedding plants and hanging baskets they bring to the market in the spring. We had to drive to another location about 5 minutes from their home where most of the crops are planted. Don was quite happy that they were able to get all the plastic laid even with the rain they have been getting. They have 80 thousand sweet onions planted which should be ready about the 1st of July, I can’t wait! They also had broccoli, cabbage and romaine planted.

It is still fairly early for vendors to have very much produce to bring to the market so you will find vegetable plants, potted herbs, eggs and bedding plants in their stall this weekend.

Next I headed north on Hwy 13 to Higginsville and Peacock Farm. Peacock Farms has been in Betty Mendenhall’s family since 1868. For those of you who visit the market regularly you have probably shopped in Betty’s stalls 15, 16 & 17 located on the south side of the market in the 1st shed. Betty has a very successful CSA which she has managed for years. Many of her member’s pick-up their weekly shares while visiting the market each week. Betty was not home when I arrived but luckily her dog was friendly and I could take a quick look. Most of what was planted was covered in an attempt to protect the tender plants for the cold. Her green houses, although small were full of leaf lettuce and plants. In addition to herbs, lettuce and plants Betty will also have fresh free range chicken eggs every week.

I got a late start today so will only be able to get one more farm visit in. Last stop Buckner, Mo and the Frye Family Farm. Marlin has been farming in Buckner for years with the help of his wife, sons, daughters and grandchildren. It is truly a family operation.

I found Marlin and two of his grandsons busy preparing the soil in numerous rows of raised beds. Once the soil is ready and the chance of frost has passed they will plant these beds with tomatoes. I never want to get in the way of a busy farmer so I had Marlin’s son Mark show me the four green houses which are also a part of their road side store. One green house was full of tomatoes already planted in the ground. The other two greenhouse had plants waiting to be planted in the fields and the last was filled with flowers.

Marlin and two of his sons, Mark and Jared, have stalls at the market. At this time Mark is the only Frye currently using his stalls on Saturday. You will find Mark in the first shed in stalls 27, 28 & 29.

Next weekend will be crazy busy at the market since we will be celebrating FLOWER POWER and Mothers’ Day so I won’t be doing any farm checks on May 5th.

See you at the market!

Farm Visit April 21, 2011

I can’t believe it is almost the end of April and I haven’t checked any farms yet. I got a call today from Por Huns who has a farm in Kansas City, Kansas. I had asked Por to call me when the 10 thousand tulip bulbs he planted were in bloom. His plan was that the tulips would bloom at different times starting the beginning of April and continuing through May. But Mother Nature had a different plan and they all bloomed at once. By the time I arrived at the farm Por and his wife Chaxamone had picked most of the tulips to bring to market this coming Saturday but I was able to get a few pictures. Por lets the tulips open and close one time before cutting them, this helps to make the color of the tulip much more vibrant. Although flowers were the main crop I saw when I visited the farm, there was already another crop planted which will come up after the flowers are done. This explains how the Huns family can start coming to the market in April and remain through October, very good planning.