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.