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.