What a difference a year makes, last year at this same time I was wearing shorts and a sun hat when I was checking farms. Today I had to pull out a sweatshirt. After checking messages and emails I finally hit the road about 9:00 a.m. which is perfect since I miss most of the traffic if I stall a little.
First stop today is Walker, Mo which is located about 80 miles south of KC off 71 hwy. Mark Curtis, Golden Rule Meats, was at work when I arrived but had given me directions before I left. I am all about land marks when I give directions so was happy to hear Mark tell me I would drive through a series of “S” curves and over a creek right before I reached the pastures where his cattle are being grass finished. Grass finishing cattle is the last stage of raising a beef animal, which is rare in the US. This is a little surprising since grass fed beef has higher levels of healthy omega-3 fats than grain fed beef. I visited two separate locations where the cattle were but could not get very clear pictures since they were in the rear of the field along the tree line and Mark has an electric fence, but they were there. I was so surprised when driving west on 54 highway after leaving Golden Rule Meats, Mark had a billboard advertising his grass fed beef, very cool. Mark is in pavilion one stall 17 every Saturday year round.
Next stop is a greenhouse in Rockville, MO. Linferd and Judith Klassen have been coming to the City Market since 2009 and are on the daily waiting list. This means they do not have contracted spaces, so could be in a different location each week. I was greeted by two dogs and the Klassen children who usually help their parents at the Market. Country Bloom Greenhouse sells bedding plants, planters, succulents and hanging baskets. They have a great selection of succulents which are plants with thick fleshy leaves and stems that can store water such as cactus or aloe plants. The Klassen’s have three greenhouses at their home and an additional retail location in Rich Hill. From the looks of their greenhouses I am thinking they will only be at the Market a couple more times this year before they sell out.
Hubbard Farms has been waiting patiently for me to get out to their farms so they can start selling at the Sunday farmers’ market. All new vendors must have their farms verified prior to renting stalls at the City Market. The first location I stopped at was in Adrian, Mo where I was greeted by Debbie Hubbard. Debbie showed me their three greenhouses which currently contain mostly bedding plants, tomato and vegetable plants. The vegetable plants are in the process of getting transplanted into the fields. Constructing two more greenhouses are on Debbie’s husbands long to do list which I am assuming will have to wait till all the crops get in. The Hubbard’s also have around 300 fruit trees, mostly peach but also plum, nectarine and cherry trees. In addition to growing bedding plants and produce Debbie also has a certified kitchen and has attended the “Better Process Control School “ which allows her to can pickles, tomatoes, salsa and beets. This is a very time consuming and expensive process so not too many vendors pursue this certification. Debbie hopes to sell at the Sunday Market all year and mainly selling greenhouse tomatoes, canned items from their farm and eggs during the winter months. I followed Debbie to their other location which is located in Cleveland, MO where she grew up, about a 25 minute drive. Hank Hubbard was busy planting tomatoes, they plan on putting in 7000 plants, things are a little behind schedule due to the late snow we had in April and May. I will probably visit them again in a month or so once they get all their crops in. Debbie will be at the Market for the first time this coming Sunday.
I had originally planned to go to Holden, Mo today but since I am so close to Belton I will wrap up my day by visiting KC Buffalo. I always like visiting Peter and Susan Kohl, they have a beautiful ranch and I love seeing the buffalo, from a distance of course. Susan met me outside their general store and explained that the fenced area closest to the store is where they keep the young buffalo. A little closer to their home they have an area for expectant buffalo that apparently get a little cranky right before they deliver, I get that. Most of the herd was out in a pasture along the trees so I could not see them. Usually the buffalo are in the large open range and can be seen from the road. After last year’s terrible drought Peter had to replant all the fields so has not let the animals in these areas until the grass grows in. He has had to continue to feed the animals purchased hay which is very costly but necessary. KC Buffalo is at the Market year round in pavilion two shed 87. For more information visit their web site at www.kcbuffalo.com
I am taking a little time off next week for the holiday so will not be doing any farm checks until June 6th; I need a little R & R to get me through the very busy summer months. The Market is a great place to get all of your food for the holidays. Broccoli, cauliflower, greenhouse tomatoes, asparagus, green onions, spinach, leaf lettuce and steaks are just a few things you will find this weekend and of course all the plants you will need to finish up your yards and gardens.