Friday, July 26, 2013

I couldn’t wait to check farms this week, the Market got its new truck on Friday and it is AWSOME! The truck has air conditioning and a radio and a whole lot more. I will need some practice on parking it so for now I make sure I have plenty of room.

For my first trip in the new truck I decided to stay a little close to home plus I didn’t get out of the office till noon.  There are three vendors who live in the Parkville area so I will start there. Lloyd and Adie Horn, Dry Lake Farms, actually live in Farley which is next to Parkville on 45 Hwy. To get to their farm I have to drive on top of the levee, no room for error there or I would end up in Lloyd’s fields. Everyone but me knew that Lloyd takes an afternoon nap after working in the fields, so of course I woke him up. Lloyd has stalls at the Market in the 100% category and the Farmer w/ Local Supplement category. In addition to selling produce, Addie has a commercial kitchen at their home and also makes wonderful cinnamon rolls, pies and cookies which she sells most Saturdays. While Lloyd was waiting for his tomatoes to start producing he has been purchasing greenhouse tomatoes from O’Neil, NE which is within the markets 500 mile radius.  This morning, before I arrived, Lloyd had started picking his own tomatoes and will have a few varieties this weekend including cherry tomatoes. He tried raising a new variety of yellow cherry tomatoes this year but said no one will buy them because they are a little ugly. Well I had to try one, ugly or not, and they were really good. Sometimes you have to stop shopping with your eyes, if you don’t you could miss out on something wonderful. I am a little late getting to Lloyds this year so his spinach, lettuce, broccoli and onions are done. The onions of course have all been dug up and are being stored in Lloyd’s garage; they are the candied onion variety and are wonderful roasted. He also is growing eggplant, cabbage (about done for the summer), potatoes, okra and squash.  I had to show Lloyd the new truck before I left and thankfully it started to rain as I pulled out. As you can see from the pictures the ground is cracking, everyone is desperate for rain. Dry Lake Farms is at the Market every Saturday in the third pavilion, north side of the Market, in stalls 125-128.

By the time I drove the short mile to the next farm it was raining pretty hard and of course I forgot to bring an umbrella. So please excuse the pictures because I was dashing from row to row in one field and in the second field I just did a slow drive by. Michael Pearl is fairly new to the City Market and will be selling on Sundays when he starts this season. Michael and his family have planted watermelons, tomatoes, squash, sunflowers, green peppers, assorted squash, cucumbers and onions. Everything was looking pretty good so I expect to see him soon.

My next stop was only a few miles away along highway 435. Floyd McFarland, or Davie to his friends, and his son Mike operate McFarland’s Plant Farm. Floyd has been coming to the market since he was just a toddler so has seen a lot of changes over the years and has some great stories. When I pulled into their drive it was raining really hard so I parked the truck and ran along the tree line to snap a few pictures without getting totally drenched. Floyd’s wife was watching me from her living room window and could not figure out who was running around out there. I caught up with Floyd, who was also taking cover from the rain in his basement. They have had another tough year due to the lack of rain, their peppers are really struggling. I have heard from many of the farmers that they have to get the tomatoes out of the fields before it rains too much or the tomatoes will crack. Apparently the plants are so in need of moisture they take in too much at one time, which causes this to happen. I am sure everyone was busy picking tomatoes as fast as they could yesterday. Mike and Floyd are at the Market every Saturday early spring through late fall in pavilion one, south side of the Market, in stalls 0-2. In addition to assorted plants they also sell tomatoes, egg plant, beets, okra, assorted varieties of peppers, onions, beans and cabbage.

As I get closer to Tillery’s Farm the rain has stopped and I am walking through dry hot dusty fields. The heat and dryness of the fields are causing the lower leaves on the tomato plants to turn brown. The ground is so dry and hard Randy can’t pull the carrots without them breaking. Even with all the challenges Marsha and Randy have managed to have things looking really nice. They had beautiful big onions peeking out of the ground just waiting to be dug up. I am always amazed how well okra and eggplant do when it is dry and hot, cucumbers not so good, the heat just burns up the vines. Randy is having some unwelcomed visitors to his farm that has a sweet tooth for watermelons, especially the very sweet yellow variety. From the tracks in the fields he is pretty sure the culprits are deer. If they don’t damage all the melons in the mean time he should be bringing watermelons to the Market next week. I am partial to the seedless watermelons Randy and Marsha grow.  Tillery Farms will be at the Market every Saturday through October, if Mother Nature is kind this summer, in stalls 46 & 47 between the first and second pavilions. You will be able to purchase potatoes, squash, greens, beets, peppers, cantaloupe, onions, kale and sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts a little later in the season.

The weather looks beautiful for the weekend and all the vendors will be on sight so stop in and stock up on wonderful summer produce before summer passes you by. Take a break from shopping and stop in at one of the Markets unique restaurants for lunch. The City Market is a great place to spend the day.

Farmers’ Market Salsa
½ c. fresh corn (cooked then chilled)                     ¼ c. green peppers, diced
½ c. canned black beans, drained & rinsed            1 tablespoon lime juice
½ c. fresh tomatoes, diced                                     ¼ c. picante sauce
¼ c. onion, diced                                                   2 clove garlic, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Drain before serving. Makes 4 -½ cup servings. Serve with fresh vegetables or low fat baked tortilla chips. Recipe provided by the University of Missouri Extension.

Friday, July 19, 2013

I think instead of the “Dog Days of Summer” the saying should be the “Cow Days”. I had to stop and snap this picture.

I was a little sentimental when I started today since this will be the last day I drive the old City Market truck to visit farms. The new and much improved truck should be ready by the first of next week. I have been driving this truck to farms for the last nine years and even though it is gross, beat up and missing things such as air conditioning and a radio, I feel a little sad but only a little.

Today I will be staying south of I-70 and visiting Pleasant Hill, Holden, Leeton and Warrensburg. As I reread the directions Dennis Thao gave me I realized I had been to that location a few weeks ago. It turns out that he farms the land next to Kaying Lor and her husband Cher Chee. This was the farm that had been flooded the end of May. Dennis had replanted this area twice with no luck so chose to plant a third time on higher ground about a mile up the road. This plot is small so they won’t have much to bring to the Market this year but have plans for next season to expand on the high side of the creek between two ponds so they will have access to water. They are hoping to have enough produce ready in the next couple of weeks to attend the Market on Sundays. Today they had been picking long beans and sent me home with a bag to try. I munched on a few as I drove and I think they are a little sweeter than the green beans we usually eat. In addition to long beans they have planted tomatoes, Asian sweet potato leaves, okra, onions, several varieties of beans and squash. I can’t imagine how frustrating and costly it is to have your crop destroyed. At least they aren’t giving up!

If you are regulars at the market you might have seen Jill Smith, Hartland Longhorn Beef. Jill has been a vendor for a few years and as you can guess from her business name she sells grass fed longhorn beef. I gave Jill a call before I arrived to see if she was home to show me the cattle, unfortunately she was not but explained where to look for them. I think they had much more sense than I have; they were all hanging out in the shade just chilling.  Jill is a waiting list vendor at the Market, which means she does not have a contracted stall so will usually be in a different location each Saturday. If you have trouble finding her just stop by the yellow information tent and we can point you in the right direction.

My next stop is a little off the main roads in Leeton, Mo. Don and Janette Neal, Bristle Ridge, have been vendors for the past 5 years and attend the Market every Saturday and Sunday for most of the year, even in December. When they started at the Market they were strictly selling produce but since that time have added a commercial kitchen to their property and have expanded into baked goods. This expansion gives there stalls a nice mix of products and provides them additional items to bring during the winter months. I arrived at a pretty good time, Don and a couple of local Amish young men were just getting ready to head over to the Neal’s main field located about 4 miles from their home. Don was very happy to have the extra help today since they had been pulling onions since early in the morning. Don has planted 40 thousand candied onions, which are my favorite variety. Once the onions are harvested they have to be spread out to dry before bringing them to the Market. Don walked me through the fields pointing out the rows of eggplant, banana peppers, cantaloupe, watermelon, bell peppers and assorted squash. They have pretty much picked the last of their kale, broccoli and cabbage. These items will be replanted for the fall.  I then followed Don back to their house to see the rest of their fields. This area has many of the same items as the other area but has a very unwanted guest. Something has been destroying their watermelons. Whatever it is it bores a hole in the middle of the melon and eats out the center. (See the picture below) Don thinks it might be wild turkeys, the Frye’s were having a similar problem last year and the culprits were the coyotes. The Neal’s had a plant I had not seen before which looks similar to a tomatillo but is a ground cherry. You pull off the husk and you have a small yellow cherry which is delicious and very sweet. Janette had planted them for their own use but have more than they can eat so could possible bring some to the Market. Janette showed me her new commercial kitchen which is very nice and pretty large, I think I might have lingered a little too long; I was sucking up the air conditioning. On Saturday the Neal’s are located in the third pavilion stalls 112-115 and on Sunday in Pavilion 2 stalls 57-59. 

 On my way home I thought I would stop in Warrensburg to visit Doug Miller, Prairie Schooner Produce. Doug actually built a small replica of a prairie schooner which he sells his produce from. Doug was not home when I arrived but his fields are on either side of his house so I could pretty much see everything. In addition to conventional farming Doug also uses raised beds. (Raised garden beds, also called garden boxes, are great for growing small plots of veggies and flowers. They keep pathway weeds from your garden soil, prevent soil compaction, provide good drainage and serve as a barrier to pests. The sides of the beds keep soil from being eroded or washed away during heavy rains. The beds make it possible to plant earlier in the season since the soil is warmer when it is above ground level.) Doug should be showing up at the Sunday Market in the next couple of weeks with sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, turnips and melons. 

I have been waiting to do my longer trips once I got the new truck so hopefully next week I will head towards Columbia, Mo or maybe Manhattan, KS. The air conditioning will really be appreciated; it was a long hot dusty day today. I drove down so many dirt roads I looked like a raccoon when I took my sun glasses off.

Fresh Corn Salad
5 large ears of corn shucked                        ½ t. salt
½ c. small diced red onions                          ½ t. black pepper
3 T. cider vinegar                                         ½ c. julienne cut fresh basil leaves
3 T. extra -virgin olive oil
In a large pot of boiling water cook the corn for 3 minutes. Drain and immerse corn in ice water bath to stop the cooking and set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob. Toss the kernels in a large bowl with the red onions, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Serve cold or at room temperature.  Recipe makes six ½ cup servings.
Recipe provided by the University of Missouri Extension, family Nutrition Education Programs

Friday, July 12, 2013

For those of you who never leave the city you are missing out on how beautiful Missouri actually is. Once you get off the interstate the hills just roll and the landscape is truly beautiful. Last year at this time the fields were dry and brown, the corn fields were just dried out stalks. Today everything was green and thriving. It is days like today when I really appreciate what I get to do every week.

I visited three farms today, all of which were located north of the city. My first stop is in King City, Mo which is located on hwy 31 just south east of St. Joe. I always know when I am getting close to King City, they have mile after mile of wind turbines. I think they are beautiful and I love to hear the whooshing sound they make.

Lost Creek Farm is named after the creek that once ran through Donna and Darrel Clausen’s farm. When I arrived Donna was busy making zucchini bread for Saturday’s market and Darrel had just finished working in the fields. Darrel hires a few high school girls to help with the farm; they sometimes also help with their stalls at the Market. You can never have too much help since the work is never ending. Darrel drove me through his fields and pointed out what was what and the crop that was struggling and those that were doing well. All the heavy rain and wind they had in late May really damaged a lot of the plants and have caused everything to be late this season. His field tomatoes are just starting to turn red, the banana peppers were coming on and he had beautiful Swiss chard and onions. In a few weeks Darrel expects to have purple hull peas, his second planting of radishes, and shell peas. I thought everything was looking pretty good, Lost Creek Farm has a great selection of produce planted and should have something new each week. After my tour of the farm I checked in on Donna. The Clausen’s have a commercial kitchen separate from their home but located on their farm, this puts their baked goods in the farm category. Donna and Darrel bake assorted cookies, pies (her cherry pie is my favorite), cinnamon rolls and breads. The zucchini bread she was pulling out of the oven smelled heavenly. The Clausen’s stalls are located in the first pavilion on the south side of the market in stalls 9-11 every Saturday year round. For additional information visit their web site at

Comanche Acres Iris Garden, located in Gower, Mo is my next stop. I normally visit Jim Hedgecock in May so I can see the iris when they are in full bloom; he has over 200 thousand bulbs planted so it is quite a site to see. Jim has been growing Iris for 33 years and has the largest operation east of the Rockies, quite an accomplishment. Jim will continue to sell iris bulbs through the season and rounds out his stall with an assortment of local vegetables he grows and supplements from other local farmers. Jim has planted cherry tomatoes which should be turning within the next week and a few other varieties that are also close to being able to harvest. I always learn something new when visiting farms, today I noticed quite a few of Jim’s onions were trampled down. I had to ask what had happened and apparently if you stomp on the tops it will produce larger onions. Jim and I are both a little skeptical but he felt it was worth a try. In addition to tomatoes he also had planted assorted squash, pumpkins and cucumbers. As we were walking around the farm I noticed Jim has two peacocks, the male peacock is white. I have never seen a white peacock before so had to get a picture. Comanche Acres Iris Garden is located in Pavilion one stalls 30 and 31 every Saturday. For additional information visit his web site at

Last stop for the day is Christopher’s Farm located in Lothrop, Mo. Tom and his wife were new to the City Market last summer and operate a 150 acre farm. When I arrived everyone was extremely busy but Tom was nice enough to take some time and drive me around the farm, this farm is very spread out so not one I would be able to see on foot. We started out with the two high tunnels ( ) which were packed with tomatoes, 800 plants. Ron, Tom’s right-hand man, was busy picking cherry tomatoes and is the face you will see at the City Market. Next we headed to the fields which contained 7 acres of various varieties of potatoes, 55 acres of squash and pumpkins, a large plot of Heirloom tomatoes (if you haven’t tried heirloom’s you really need to give them a go) a few fields of assorted melons, eggplant, peppers, okra, cabbage, beets, cucumbers and even celery. They really have it all. I was really fascinated by new variety of cauliflower they were growing. They actually raise four different colors, cheddar yellow, lime green, white and purple. What a beautiful salad these would make. Tom is not a big cauliflower eater so sent some wonderful samples home for me to try. My husband and I ate the cheddar one last night with our dinner, it was wonderful! Another new item Tom is trying this year is white sweet corn; it is suppose to be supper sweet and should be ready soon. Tom and Ron raise a lot of corn and should have it at the market through fall if we ever get some rain. For those farmers living north of the river it is very dry, the drought is not really over. Christopher Farms will be at the market every Saturday, their location will vary but they should always be in the second pavilion. If you can’t find them just stop by the yellow information tent and I will point you in the right direction.


I am hoping to have the market’s new truck to drive next week so will be heading to the Columbia area, I hope. 

Now that cherry tomatoes are coming on I thought you might enjoy this “Cherry and Grape Tomato Salad” from “In Season Cooking-Fresh From the Kansas City Farmers’ Market” published by Julienne Gehrer

Cherry and Grape Tomato Salad
1 pint red or yellow cherry tomatoes                                      ½ cup buttermilk
1pint red grape tomatoes                                                       4 oz. gorgonzola crumbles
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil                                                     6 Tbsp. chives
1 tsp kosher salt                                                                    6 strips crisp bacon

Cut tomatoes in half and marinate in olive oil and kosher salt for about ½ an hour.
Meanwhile mix buttermilk and gorgonzola crumbles in a small bowl. Mince chives, crumble bacon and add both to the bowl. Stir well and pour over tomatoes. Toss lightly. Serve immediately.