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.