Friday, April 26, 2013

I had to skip farm visits last week due to the rain. The City Market truck is a little scary on wet roads and does not have working defrosters so better to skip a week. The Market is looking for a sponsor for a new truck so if anyone knows of a business looking to get their logo out there this might be the perfect opportunity.

What a beautiful day to visit farms, it finally felt like spring today. I had two vendors to visit in Edgerton, Kansas so made that my first stop. I met Frank and Melanie Gieringer at the Great Plains Grower Conference in St. Joe, MO in January and was thrilled to hear their farm was so close to Kansas City. Today I found them busy at work covering a new high tunnel they recently received through a grant. This will make their sixth tunnel which they use mainly for growing tomatoes, European cucumbers and sweet peppers.  High tunnels are great for growing tomatoes. You can put the plants in the ground, roll up the sides and have the plants protected from the elements. High tunnel tomatoes taste wonderful and make it possible to have fresh local tomatoes available much earlier. The Gieringer’s have approximately 1000 peach trees which were just starting to bloom and were beautiful. Melanie told me about every two or three years they plant an additional 200 new trees just in case they lose some to a late freeze or some weather related disease. In addition to peaches they have one acre of strawberries, 16,000 plants, oh my! Today the entire field was covered to prevent the plants from freezing. We took a peak under the cover and the blooms were still white so all should be good. If the weather remains warm they hope to have strawberries by Mothers Day, if not by the end of May. I can’t wait, we have seen a few years in a row that have been tough for strawberries. Let’s hope we see a bumper crop this year. If you like to pick your own strawberries Gieringer Orchard gives you that option. For more information visit their web site at

The next vendor just lives one mile down the road so I did not even need my GPS. I wish all the farms could be this close. Enright Gardens is one of the City Markets larger greenhouse vendors with 13 greenhouses and one high tunnel.  The green houses were bursting at the seams with beautiful flowers just waiting for the weather to warm up. I am sure I took way to many pictures today but I just could not help myself. A few years ago the Enright’s started grafting tomato plants and have dedicated one high tunnel for this purpose. The plants looked great and a few of them even had green tomatoes on them. I can’t wait to have a BLT once fresh tomatoes start showing up at the market. Sue and Bo Enright are at the market every Saturday, and maybe a few Sunday’s, now through June. You will find them on the east end of the second farmers’ pavilion in stalls 48-51. If you are looking for the perfect place to have a wedding or celebrate a special day Enright Gardens has the place. They have renovated a large building on their property which can be rented for receptions.  Next to the reception hall they have a beautiful garden, the perfect place for a wedding. For more information visit their web site at

This is the perfect day to visit greenhouses. It is so nice to see some color. I love visiting The Flower Farm; Keith Johnson has so many unique plants you just feel like you have been transported to a different place. The bougainvilleas were in full bloom and covered the ceiling of the main greenhouse. I am sure the pictures I took will not do them justice. Keith and Roberta have about nine greenhouses, four of which are attached to one another. I always like going into the house that is filled with tropical plants, succulents and cactus. I just need to make sure I watch the time because the overhead sprinklers go off every six minutes, I have gotten wet in the past. This year I have noticed a new petunia that always catches my eye, it is black with a bright yellow center, really different from the pastels you usually see. Keith is at the Market every Saturday through July in stalls 69-71 located on the west end of pavilion two. If you would like more information about The Flower Farm visit their website at

I had to lose my muddy boots before I got to my last stop for the day since I stopped by to see one of the Markets very talented artist/crafter vendors. Theresa Sullivan designs the most beautiful dried flower arrangements you have ever seen. Her new work shop, which she shares with her husband Jim, is located in a recently purchased home in Merriam, Kansas. The lower level is filled with Teresa’s creations. She has one area used for drying the flowers, another for any spray painting she needs to do and a room with a large work table where she designs the arrangements. Theresa has been at the Market almost every Saturday since the first of the year and will usually be located on the east side of the Market.

Vendors have been very busy calling in this week so we should have a wonderful selection of bedding plants, early spring greens, bakery items, free range meats, farm fresh eggs and beautiful craft items. The City Market is the place to be this weekend!

Friday, April 12, 2013

It is that time of year again to start visiting the vendors to verify that they are growing or making what they are bringing to the market if they are in the farmer 100% category.  Or at least 50% of what they bring to the market each day if they are in the farmer with local supplement category. All produce sold at the City Market must be harvested within a 500 mile radius of the market. I also visit the crafters at their workshops/homes to make sure they make the items they sell at the market.
I actually started visiting a few new vendors a few weeks ago but was unable to post it on my blog.  I was trying to change the look of the blog and archive last year’s information and messed it up. I am a little computer challenged at times.
Over the last few weeks I visited two new vendors in the artist crafter category. Belinda Riley is a retired art teacher in the Park Hill school district. She is one of the lucky artists that actually have a studio in her home. Belinda makes her own clay molds and creates wonderful pieces. Her newest creations are clay fruit which are fired and glazed, they are beautiful. Belinda also free styles the clay and can make a custom sculpture of your pet. For more information or to order a custom sculpture, visit Belinda’s website at .

The next new vendor will be at the market on Sunday’s only. P. Jeanine Smith, Home Grown Art Gallery, hand paints lamps, picture frames, wooden boxes and vases. No two designs are alike. In addition to embellishing items Jeanine also does original paintings on canvas. Her art work has taken over her home so she definitely needs to get to the Market soon. For more information visit her website at


Last Thursday I stayed very close to the Market and checked two new possible vendors who had recently submitted applications for the Sunday Market.  Jennifer Lowe lives in Kansas City and grows English roses in raised beds in her back yard. She also wanted to sell bedding plants but this will not be an option this year since there were no plants even started. The greenhouse vendors who sell at the market start all the plants by seed or with plant plugs during the winter. Once the plants get large enough they transplant the plants into bigger pots. By this time of year the green houses are bursting at the seams with plants ready to bring to the Market.
Brenda Rogers grows lavender in Independence, Mo. She has about 80 mature plants in the field. Brenda harvested and dried the lavender last year and will be selling items made from that crop. Her booth will include lavender sachets, lavender by the ounce, dried bundles and arrangements.
Today had to be one of the coldest days I have ever checked farms. I made sure to only check nice warm greenhouses and a bakery today. The farmers’ market is made-up of mostly contracted vendors and a few waiting list vendors. The waiting list vendors rent the stalls that a contracted vendor chooses not to use that day. I try to check all the contracted and waiting list vendors at least once per year. All new vendors must be inspected prior to renting a stall for the first time. The first farm on my list today is a nice warm greenhouse in St Joseph,  MO. Randy Kahler has been a vendor at the Market for at least thirteen years. He had contracted stalls most of that time but has opted to be a waiting list vendor since he does not have enough plants to sell the required 12 times per year. He operates out of two greenhouses located behind his home. In addition to selling at the City Market Randy also has a roadside stand in his front yard. Randy was not home when I arrived but told me to feel free to show myself around. The greenhouses were so much warmer than the outside temperature my glasses and the camera lenses kept fogged up.  I love walking through the greenhouses this time of year. Everything outside is so gray and gloomy; it is great to see all the beautiful flowers in full bloom. Randy was at the market for the first time this year on April 6th, due to the extreme low overnight temperatures on Friday night he will not be able to take his plants out of the greenhouse, the extreme temperature change will shock them. Hopefully the weather will improve by next Saturday.


Only a short drive south east of St. Joe and I am in Stewartsville. For those of you who have never been to Stewartsville it is south of highway 36. This is where the wonderful Bread of Life Breads are made. Kathy Crowther and her family make the organic bakery items. If you are familiar with their stall you probably know Amanda and Bethany, they are the faces of Bread of Life at the City Market. When I arrived they were just finishing baking for the day and the smell was unbelievable. They will start back at the market this Saturday through November.

I have two vendors who live in Plattsburg, MO so will make that my last stops for the day. George Slusher has downsized his farm business over the last few years and has decided to specialize in growing cactus, onions, potatoes and tomato plants. That is when he is not fishing. His potted tomato plants are very health and have already started producing tomatoes. Talk about instant gratification. If you are a cactus lover, like me, you need to take a look at the beautiful pots George and his helper have put together. George is at the Market most Saturday’s and Sunday’s.

Last stop for the day is south of Plattsburg not far from highway C. Clara, William, Bill and Jennifer make up Windy Ridge Greenhouse and Produce, and trust me today I know how their farm got its name. I found Clara and William busy watering all the plants in the greenhouses and planting vegetable seeds so they will be ready to transplant in the field once the ground temperature warms up. Most crops can be planted if the ground temperature is at least 42 degrees and there is warm weather in the very near forecast. This has not been the case this spring; the weather is just all over the place. I was surprised that William had his cabbage planted; they just put it in last week. Cabbage handles the cold temperatures better than most plants. The Hank’s greenhouses, they have three, were overflowing with beautiful hanging baskets, assorted bedding plants and herbs. Just down the road from the main farm is Williams’s childhood farm, which is where Bill and Jennifer live. Bill has already planted onions and Jennifer is raising chickens so they can bring fresh eggs to the market. The chicken coop was pretty calm except for Bob the rooster, he was very vocal. Rumor has it, if Bob doesn’t calm down he might find himself at the dinner table. Bob will not be a guest! For more information about Windy Ridge Greenhouse and Produce visit their website at

Looking at next week’s extended forecast I am pretty sure I will be visiting more greenhouses next week. The City Market vendors are starting to come in more and more each week on both Saturday and Sunday.Make sure and check the City Market web site for a list of what’s in season.