Friday, June 28, 2013

I thought I would be dealing with a hot humid day today but surprisingly a few pretty big storms started rolling in as I left the city. By the time I made it out to Buckner, MO the skies were pretty ominous and there was a few lightening strikes here and there. Standing out in the middle of a field when it is lightening is not really a smart thing to do so I probably won’t be lingering too much today.

The Frye’s, Mark and Marlin, have a farm just off 24 hwy in Buckner. They have a roadside greenhouse which has been evolving over the past few years and now is turning into a little general store. Marlin hopes to add bulk food items in the near future. Marlin met me in his golf cart to show me the farm which has been downsized over the last few years. This year they have planted the area behind their store and home only. Last year, or maybe the year before that, they installed raised beds for growing tomatoes; these had been grown in a greenhouse before.  The Frye’s have five rows of raised beds with the plants staggered for easier picking. The tomatoes are still green and will probably not be ready to bring to market for another two weeks. Marlin pointed out 40 small peach trees which should start producing fruit in another two years if all goes well. Mark and Marlin are in the supplement category and are currently supplementing tomatoes from Nebraska and peaches from Beckner’s Orchard in Lexington, Mo for their market stalls. They have recently planted eggplant, cucumbers, green beans, melons and squash but nothing is ready to harvest. Their plan was to put in pumpkins later today but the weather could keep this from happening. Farmers in the supplement category must grow at least 50% of the items they bring to the market each day; bedding plants make up the 50% of the items they are bringing to the market this coming week. You will find Mark Frye is in the first pavilion in stalls 27-29 and Marlin is in the third pavilion in stalls 129-131.

Although the weather is pretty crummy I have opted to keep on going so headed to Odessa, Mo to check out Pete Economides farm. Pete is known around the Market as the pepper guy, he sells mostly pepper plants and when in season peppers. Usually if there is a crazy hot pepper you are searching for Pete will have it. In addition to vegetable plants and peppers Pete also sells assorted house plants and assorted produce, Pete is in the 100% category. When I arrived at Odessa Greenhouse, off Hwy M, Pete and his wife were not at home but told me to feel free to show myself around. I was greeted by five very cute kittens that followed me wherever I went. Their greenhouse was jam-packed with house plants of all kinds, even some tropical’s. I headed down a path behind their house in search of their fields when a crack of thunder and lightning hit, I don’t know who jumped higher, me or the kittens. Time to move on, it was just a little too close for comfort. I got in the safety of the truck and drove to their second small field where they had been working the night before, things are looking pretty good. Odessa Greenhouse is at the Market on Saturday (stalls 105-107) and Sunday (stalls 87-89)


Last stop for the day is Pleasant Hill, Mo at the farm of Kaying Lor. They have had a lot of challenges this season; snow, flash floods and vandalism but are still persevering. In May the small stream that runs along their property came over the banks with a vengeance and flooded their entire six acre field. The water came so quickly and was so deep it was up to the window of their van in a matter of minutes. Kaying has replanted their field three times this year and is slowly starting to see the rewards. The flowers were beautiful but much shorter than in years past. They hope to be bringing long beans to the market early next month as well as miniature cucumbers. They currently have four varieties of spinach planted; only one variety is ready to harvest and sweet rice which should be ready in October. Kaying Lor is at the market on Saturday (stalls 53-54) and Sunday (stalls 30 & 31)  

I am taking a little time off next week to enjoy the 4th so will not be out visiting farms. I hope to be able to drive the new Market truck fairly soon and will head out to Oklahoma, Joplin, Columbia and Manhattan. Just a reminder the City Market is the perfect place to get everything you will need for your 4th of July gatherings.

Friday, June 21, 2013


My Day started off a little differently today, I went and test drove a few trucks. Within a few more weeks I should be driving a new truck to visit farms, I am so excited. The truck I currently drive has a lot to be desired, no air, no radio, holes in the seat, broken cup holders, no tailgate and reeks of garbage. Even the farmers make fun of it. What a great way to start the day.

Since I was so busy shopping I will only get to two farms again this week. I need to step it up a little if I am going to get all the vendors checked before the first frost. I will stay fairly close to KC today and check two vendors in the Saint Joe area.

John Goode from Wathena Kansas has been coming to the market for at least 10 years. During that time I have continued to see improvements to his farm. This year he received his organic certification from the USDA. Way to go John! This process is quite pricey, requires a lot of paperwork, inspections and is very timely, which is why many of the vendors don’t choose to go down that road. Over the last 10 years John has terraced some of his fields, added two high tunnels and one greenhouse and purchased a concession trailer so he can roast peppers by the bushel and sell them while at the Market. John uses this concession trailer and his generator as a cooler for his produce after picking, very clever. Today when I arrived John was busy harvesting lavender for a customer’s special order. He was nice enough to take time to show me around. Stacey, John’s wife, was busy in the field planting sweet potatoes. They had just planted various varieties of melons and pumpkins earlier in the week. The same day the Oklahoma tornadoes hit John had a terrible wind come through his farm and damaged two of his high tunnels, they  started making repairs yesterday with the help of a few of John’s friends from Jamesport, Missouri. All the plastic was ripped off and parts of the frame was twisted. John had to harvest all the produce in one of these tunnels so repairs could be made. What a setback. 

In his main greenhouse they were still harvesting a variety of herbs, kale, garlic snips, lettuce, beets, cucumbers, small bell peppers, rainbow chard and cabbage. Closer to the house he had a row of rhubarb which looked very nice. Stacey told me the red raspberries should be ready in about a week and the blackberries in two to three weeks. They also have a few flowers to sell and BBQ wood which they split, chunk and bag.

John is in the Farmer w/ Local Supplement category so can also sale produce purchased from the local auctions or another farmer as long as it is harvested no more than 500 miles from the City Market. So the tomatoes you see John selling at the market are supplemented, at least for now. He did have field tomatoes, eggplant, celery and a wide variety of peppers and squash planted; they just are not producing yet. Did I mention they have also started raising ducks so will sell duck eggs at the Market this year.

Stacey has added three short hair sheep to the farm but these are not for eating, my first clue was the name tag on the fence. Once you name them they are very hard to eat. Rocket was very friendly but must have had the munchies; he kept chewing on my shirt and clipboard. Goode Acres is at the Market every Saturday in stalls 5-8, you can find more information at

Fifteen minutes later I arrived at Natures Choice located in St. Joe right off 169. As I pulled in the drive I could see everyone was hard at work in the very large berry patch Fred planted last year, it looked great.  Not a surprise since Fred Messner is a master at what he does. If you are at the market and have a question about growing produce Fred is the “go to guy”. Fred explained the painstaking care they put into training this year’s vine to go one direction for easier picking and next seasons vine on the opposite side of the plant. They do this with various lines stretch from end to end of each row at various heights and with special clamps so not to damage the plant. After the berries are harvested this year the old vines will be trimmed back and the new vines will be trained for next season, very time-consuming and fascinating. 

Helen Messner had to show off her new toy for getting around the farm. (See Photo) It was really nice to get a guided tour with a little shade. Fred got a little carried away this year planting potatoes, they have an acre planted. That is a lot of potatoes. Their fields and greenhouses are full of tomato plants 1,000 plus in the field, 500 cherry tomato plants in the greenhouse and an additional large amount in another greenhouse. They have been super busy since they also have row after row of other vegetables as well.  Last year the Messner’s had solar panels installed so run everything off the grid, what a great operation. 

Fred and Helen have a farmer in training working with them this year. Chris Padgett raises chickens and turkeys on their farm. All the chickens are fed a non-GMO organic blend of local grains with probiotics, vitamins and trace minerals. Chris starts with day old Cornish cross chicks, at three weeks he moves them into portable field shelters where they are allowed to range on fresh pasture daily. These portable shelters are moved every two weeks to a fresh plot. He currently has 1000 birds, 80 chickens for laying eggs, 20 ducks for laying eggs, 200 chicks which will provide eggs by late September and another 600 for meat. What a very cool operation. Fred and Helen Messner will be selling chicken and duck eggs at the City Market in the near future. Chris has a guard dog in training to protect the chickens from predators such as raccoons and opossums; now he is just a very adorable pup. He is a Great Pyrenean mix, which many of the farmers use for protecting their livestock.


Fred and Helen are at the Market every Saturday and most Sundays. Saturday stalls 12-14 and Sunday 60-62.

I will keep you all updated on my new ride and of course will have pictures. Hope to see everyone at the Busker Festival tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The festival will take place in the north east corner of the Market along 3rd street. For more information visit the City Market web site under events.

Friday, June 14, 2013

What a perfect day for visiting farms, sunny, breezy and 85 degrees. I always try to check farms that are fairly close to each other and in the same general direction. Today I headed to Fort Scott and Westphalia which are both located in Kansas. Fort Scott is about 94 miles from the City Market off 69 Hwy.

The Fort Scott area received 4 inches of rain on Tuesday so I was expecting to see a muddy mess but things weren’t too bad apparently this has to do with the amount of sand in the soil. Dennis and Linda Clayborn own Clayborn Farms and were busy digging potatoes when I arrived. A creek runs along the east edge of their property and came over its banks on Tuesday covering a section of tomato and zucchini patches. The plants were looking pretty good, just a little muddy. The creek looked very calm as we waded through it but on Tuesday it washed an Amish buggy and family off the road, thank goodness all were rescued and were unharmed. I think I spent an hour with Dennis walking past row after row of tomatoes, cabbages, peppers, eggplant, onions, potatoes, kohlrabi, cantaloupe, watermelons, corn, sugar peas, garlic and pickling cucumbers. I hope I am not forgetting anything. I am always amazed by the number of plants that a farmer puts in the ground. Dennis and Linda planted 40 kinds of tomatoes for a total of 1800 plants, 1500 cabbage, 1400 broccoli, 5000 eggplant. That is a lot of plants and a crazy amount of work. Dennis showed me an area in an old milking barn where they store last year’s onions, turnips, beats and garlic on large orange racks covered in straw. He keeps this area dry, heated and circulates the air with large fans, this is why you will see him selling larger onions than some of the other vendors. As I learn more and more about farming and food safety I always ask the vendors where they wash their produce and where they get the water for their fields. Dennis and Linda wash all their produce with city water which they then reuse to water the plants. They also are lucky enough to have a 21 acre lake on their property which they pump water from for their fields. All their plants are watered at the roots, not on the plant, this is good to know. The Clayborn’s are at the Market on Saturday in stalls 99 and 100 and on Sunday you will find them in the first pavilion in stall 39. 

Once again I got a late start leaving the office so will only get one more farm visit in before heading back to the city. Next stop Westphalia, Kansas which is located just SW of Garnett and 63 miles from Fort Scott. The drive was beautiful; all the wheat was glistening in the sun and in constant motion from the breeze. I do love my job! When I arrived at the Heck’s farm Duane was not yet home so I roamed around checking his three greenhouses, two of which were bursting with tomato plants. Duane’s main crop is corn; you might say he is the corn guy at the City Market. I have been getting bombarded with customers wanting to know when fresh sweet corn will arrive, I knew Duane would be the one to ask. If all goes well he expects to have sweet corn by the second Saturday in July, he didn’t think he would have it by the 4th. What a difference a year makes, last year corn arrived at the Market the last week of May. The reason for the delay in planting was the late snow we had in April and May. The Heck’s will hopefully be at the Market on Saturday with tomatoes. They have three locations on Saturday in all three pavilions, stalls A, 52 and 143.

We should have a great day at the market tomorrow, just a little warm so come early. Green beans, onions, broccoli and Tennessee peaches are starting to show up this week. See you at the Market!

Friday, June 7, 2013

If you follow my blog every week you might remember two month ago I visited Windy Ridge Greenhouses in Plattsburg, Missouri. They were having issues with a very angry rooster named Bob; well I have learned that Bob did indeed wind up in the freezer. RIP

I feel like I am so behind checking farms this season but many of the venders are so much rain that they are unable to get into their fields to get their crops in. if they were able to get things planted  the rain keeps rotting the seeds and plants. The vendors located south of Kansas City have been getting hit the hardest lately so I thought I would stay north this week. I have two vendors I would like to get checked today the first vendor is in Pattonsburg, Mo and the second is in Hale, Mo. Pattonsburg is located north on I-35 about 70 miles and Hale Missouri is south of Chillicothe, there is just not a quick way to get to Hale so I will only be able to check two farms today.

Lyle Hoover is new to farming and this will be his first attempt to grow produce to bring to a farmers’ market. His farm, All Good Things, is located in a low area right off C highway. Lyle is doing better than most since he has two acres already planted although it is pretty muddy in spots. His plan is to plant an additional 3 acres in corn once things dry out a little. Lyle has never been to the City Market so is planning on visiting this weekend to see if the City Market will be a good fit for him. There are quite a few farmers markets in the Kansas City area so many farmers will sell at more than one Market or sometimes opt for a little bit smaller market located closer to their home. I am interested to hear what Lyle and his family thinks of the City Market after their visit. Although Lyle has his crops in it will be a while before he has produce ready to harvest.

I will have to back track a little to get to Hale and for some reason my GPS does not do a good job getting me to the Bryson’s. I have been there many times over the past 10 years; you would think I would know exactly how to get there. I found Ruby and Joe Bryson sitting in their road side stand which is a new addition since I visited last year. Joe’s son Peewee showed me around the farm today since Joe has been a little under the weather lately. They were busy picking sweet onions in the greenhouse when I arrived. The beets and radishes in this greenhouse were pretty much finished and turning to seed. The Bryson’s are in the Farmer w/ Local Supplement category so are allowed to purchase 50% of the items they bring to the market as long as they are growing no less than 50% of the items themselves. The purchased items must be harvested within 500 miles of the City Market.  This week they will have onions, last year’s potatoes they have stored in a cooler, strawberries and lettuce which make up the items they are harvesting from their farm. They will be supplementing Nebraska tomatoes which were purchase from O’Neil, NE which is 372 miles from the City Market. ( and blueberries from Harrison, Arkansas; which is 244 miles from the Market. Whenever necessary I will ask vendors for their receipts and also call the grower where the supplemented produce is being purchased. For additional information on Bryson’s Farm Fresh Produce visit their web site at

Next week I am heading south into Kansas, I am sure I will need my boots. One of the vendors in Fort Scott told me he has spotted quite a few snakes in his fields so I will without a doubt have on some very tall boots. See you at the Market!