Friday, May 24, 2013

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

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.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What a surprise I had today, the first Thursday in weeks without rain. I had to swap my rain boots for sunscreen. Since produce was so late getting planted this spring I am still concentrating on checking vendors who grow assorted flowering plants. A few weeks ago I received a new application from Gene and Penny Stormann from Topeka Kansas, so this is where I headed this morning. The Stormann’s specialty is daylilies, an astonishing 800 plus varieties. “Deception at Night”, “Static Shock”, “Journey to Oz” and everything in between. As I walked between the 15 beds dotted with tags listing each variety I kept thinking how much time went in to making all these tags. If I am in the area this summer I will have to stop to see the daylilies when they are in full bloom, I am sure it is a sight to see. Pleasant Hill Daylilies will be at the Market on Sunday’s, they sell at the Topeka farmers Market on Saturdays. For those of you interested in purchasing daylilies from Gene and Penny you will be glad to know that they have been certified by the Kansas Department of Agriculture Plant Protection Program, the inspector found the plants to be free from harmful plant pests, good to know.

For those of you who were at the Market last weekend you might have seen Washington Creek Lavender’s stall. John and Kathy Wilson, from Lawrence, have sold at the City Market for a couple years and have recently taken the plunge to give up their day jobs and start an Agra- Tourism Business. I found them busy working on their new barn which will house a store and a much larger drying area. John gave me a tour explaining where everything would be, the crowning touch of this new addition was the solar panel which will operate all the new 10 watt LED overhead lights which are very green and will save the Wilsons some money on their electric bill. Another new addition since I visited last year was a new hoop house which is used for raising plant starts. John was a little embarrassed because they have not had a chance to weed around the plants this week, all I saw was beautiful lavender plants. Last year’s drought really took a toll on some of their younger plants, which will need to be replanted this year. They currently have 7000 plants which vary in size depending on when they were planted. The Wilson’s have a new area ready for planting an additional 1000 new plants. They hope to have a grand opening in the near future for everyone to come out, enjoy the view and buy some wonderful, fragrant lavender products. I will keep you posted.

I had a little time left before I got back to the Market so I stopped by Sai Lee’s since it was on my way. Sai Lee has a large garden behind her home in Kansas City, Kansas and has been a City Market vendor for a few years. When I visit the vendors farms in KCKS I am always amazed how large their lots are behind their homes, they just go on and on. Although produce is way behind schedule this year Sai had quite a bit of lettuce and spinach ready to harvest for the Market this coming Saturday. She also had cilantro and onions that she will pick in the morning. Sai Lee is at the market most Saturday’s and Sunday’s.

Next week I will head south to check a few new vendors and a couple that are not so new. If you haven’t shopped for bedding plants or plants for your garden you will want to shop the Market this weekend. There will be a wonderful selection; I am sure the best selection anywhere in town. You will also find some really nice greens, lettuce, spring onions, greenhouse tomatoes and asparagus. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

I bit the bullet today and headed out even with rain in the forecast. I am really behind on my farm visits this spring. It seems like every Thursday it has been raining or crazy cold. Thank goodness it looks like we will have a nice weekend for Mothers Day. I think most of the Market’s 175 stalls will be filled this coming Saturday with a huge selection of bedding plants, hanging baskets, cut flowers and beautiful craft items. I am sure there will be something that any mother would love to receive on her special day. For those of you looking for something fun to do on Sunday, bring mom to the Market for lunch, to browse through the Community Yard Sale, shop the Farmers’ Market or visit one of the Markets unique shops.

Today I thought I would head south east to the Versailles area to check a few greenhouses. I originally had planned to visit Bob Lorance; you all might know him as the European cucumber guy. Bob has been a vendor at the Market for many years and raises his cucumbers hydroponically. (The cultivation of plants in a nutrient liquid with or without gravel or another supporting medium) I gave him a call when I got to Sedalia to see if he would be home( Bob is from Stover, MO)  only to discover Bob has decided to take a year off from the Market and switch over to growing green beans. He plans to return in 2014; Bob will be missed this year. 

Luckily Versailles is just a little east of Stover so was not out of my way at all. I had a new Sunday vendor to check whose road side stand and greenhouses were located on Hwy 52, I wish all the farms were this easy to find. Chris Pifer is a vendor at the Columbia Farmers Market on Saturdays and has been looking for a way to expand his business. The City Market, Sunday farmers’ market is the perfect way to do this. Chris specializes in very large hanging baskets. He starts them very early in his greenhouses with seeds or plugs. They were beautiful. His greenhouses were bulging with a wide variety of plants, herbs and ferns. The last greenhouse we went into was full of the largest tomato plants I have ever seen, the stalks were huge. It reminded me of Jack and the Beanstalk. Each plant had a cord that ran along the vine to the ceiling of the greenhouse and were secured with clips; this helped to support the massive vines which where weighted down with large vine ripe tomatoes. Chris had just finish picking before I arrived, it was a sight to see. All five of his greenhouses are heated by burning saw dust, which is very efficient, very green and saves him a lot of money compared to propane. Many of the farmers are getting away from using propane to heat their greenhouse; it’s a good thing.  If all goes well you will see Hwy 52 Family Greenhouse at the market in the near future.


Ten minutes down the road and I arrive at the Busy Bee road side stand/greenhouse. Busy Bee is owned and operated by Daryl and Diane Unruh also located on hwy 52 in Versailles. This location is strictly a retail space, their main greenhouses are on their farm a few miles away. Diane was busy getting an order together which was to be picked up a little earlier than expected so I just showed myself around.  Darryl also heats his two greenhouses with wood. In addition to bedding and vegetable plants Daryl will be bringing mums, straw, fall decorative corn and pumpkins to the Market in the fall. I was thrilled to see a hummingbird in their greenhouse; they are attracted to all the flowers. I am sure Diane was thinking “what’s the big deal” since they see this all the time. I just kept trying to get a picture.

I ran out of time today since it took me 2 ½ hours just to get to the first farm so I will just check one more location today. Mark and Esther Zimmerman have been waiting list vendors since I started at the Market. Zimmerman’s Farm Market is located at their home on E hwy just down the road from the Central Missouri Produce Action. You might remember I visited the action last September. Mark has five greenhouses filled with bedding plants, handing baskets and one dedicated to growing tomatoes. This tomato house is setup similar to the Pifers. All the plants are in the ground protected from the elements. Mark will be bringing tomatoes to the Market this coming Saturday. Unlike some of our vendors Mark has been able to get his crops in the fields. The covered rows you see in the pictures are being used to protect the delicate new early corn crop. The strawberry plants were flowering so strawberries are not far behind. Onions and broccoli were ready and all the other plants were just getting started. Mark and Diane were not at home but told me to just show myself around, the rain had stopped and the sun was out. It was wonderful just to walk through the fields. I love living in the city but it is always nice to get in the rural areas every week.


Next week I need to head to Topeka, Kansas to check a new Sunday vendor. I am hoping for a dry sunny day where I don’t need to wear my boots. Thank goodness I had them today it was very sloppy everywhere I went.

Friday, May 3, 2013

What is up with this weather? Talk about a total change from last spring.

Normally on Friday's the City Market phones are ringing off the hook with vendors calling to tell me they will be using their stalls on Saturday and Sunday. Today the phones have been ringing but only so the vendors can cancel for Saturday. The overnight temperatures will be to low for the vendors selling bedding plants to load their trucks on Friday night and the early morning temperatures will harm the plants when they are unloaded in the morning. Last Saturday vendors arrived at the market at 5:00 a.m., left their trucks loaded until it warmed up a little and went and ate breakfast, this is just not the norm. I received a call from a vendor this morning who had three inches of snow on the ground with trees and power lines down. Just unbelievable.

Many of the  vendors who sell craft items have also canceled for Saturday because they cannot risk having their items get wet. I can never remember a spring that has been this rainy and cold every Saturday.

I did manage to check one new vendor this week. Rachelle and Isaac Clark are from Liberty, Missouri and will be setting up at the Sunday farmers' market in a few weeks. Rachelle is a stay at home mom who is just starting her home business. She will be making a variety of children's items such as binkie buddies, unique personalized baby cloths and blankets. The Sunday market is a great starting point for new vendors just getting started. 

I am keeping my fingers crossed that next weekend will be sunny, warm and beautiful.I hope to get to Versailles, Missouri on Thursday. That was the plan for this week but it was just too rainy and cold.