Today was a real dog day of summer; I tried not to look at the rising temperature as I drove. As hot as it was it was nothing to compare with last summer. I remember how burnt all the corn fields were last year, today they were green and went on for mile after mile. I visited farms in Hale, Higginsville and Kansas City, so for the most part I stayed on the interstates and highways.
Joe Bryson and his family have been coming to the City Market for many years and are located in the first pavilion in stalls 36-38 on Saturday and pavilion two on Sundays. This time of year most of the farmers start planting their fall crops especially the vendors who sell at the City Market, since we are a year round farmers’ market. Joe has got most of his fall crops in with drip lines lining each row. Tomatoes are really coming on strong right now so if you plan on doing any canning, now would be the time. The Bryson’s had an abundance of tomato plants covered in green tomatoes, they had already picked for Saturday’s market. They were also picking green peppers, assorted hot peppers and really hot peppers and digging potatoes. About a mile from Joe’s farm, in downtown Hale, his son has a garden where he is growing all the summer squash, okra, green beans and more tomatoes. Joe is in the Farmer w/ Local Supplement category so is allowed to supplement no more than 50% of his produce each market day. Joe gets his supplemented produce from a couple of his Amish neighbors. As I was getting ready to leave the tornado sirens started to go off. I asked Peewee if they tested them on the last Thursday of the month since there was obviously no storm blowing in. He told me they go off everyday at noon and 6 p.m.; it is like a very loud dinner bell. www.brysonsfarm.com
From downtown Hale I just need to make a slight jog and I am heading south on hwy 65. My next stop is in Higginsville at Peacock farm. Peacock Farm has been in Betty Mendenhall’s family for generations (1868) and is on the registry as a “Missouri Century Farm”. Betty, as usual, was not at home when I arrived but her daughter greeted me and gave me a quick tour. Most of their early vegetables have been plowed under such as beets; radishes etc. but they are still harvesting tomatoes, green beans, long purple green beans, purple hull peas, assorted herbs and garlic. In a small greenhouse Betty also grows a variety of succulents which she sells at the market. A few years ago Betty put in a commercial kitchen on her farm, her hope was that she would rent it out to people producing products to sell at area farmers’ market, similar to what the Market does with the Farm to Table Kitchen. So far she has had no luck doing this so uses the kitchen for producing her own items such as jams, jellies and some baked goods. Betty is also in the Farmer w/ Local Supplement category and gets her supplemented items from the Amish action in Versailles, MO. Betty manages a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and has her customers pick up their shares at the Market on Saturday. Peacock Farm is located in the first pavilion is stalls 15 & 16 on Saturdays. www.peacockfarmsmo.com
I had time for one more visited so thought I would head back to Kansas City and stop at Urbavor before getting back to the Market. Urbavo is an urban farmstead operated by Dan Heryer and Brooke Salvaggio, they also are the owners of Badseed Market located in the Crossroads Art District (www.badseedkc.com ) Dan and Brook have been at the City Market since 2008. At that time they were farming in a residential area on Banister Rd and due to city ordinance issues were forced to relocate to their current location. Sometimes things turn out for the best since they now are able to farm 13.5 acres of what was once unused land. I was not able to get to their farm last year and I was amazed on how much things had changed. They have fenced in the property in order to keep the dear out, yes there are a lot of deer in urban areas, added about 84 fruit trees, 750 strawberry plants, blackberry bushes, expanded their vegetable production and are building an earth contact home. I wonder what they do in their spare time! Dan took time out to walk me through the fields pointing out what they are currently harvesting, what they have replanted and what is done for the year. Dan and Brook identify their method of farming as “beyond organic” practices and strive to be totally sustainable without tilling or sprays. I was fascinated to hear and see how Dan plants potatoes. Most farmers plant the seeds underground and then dig up the potatoes. Dan places the seeds on top of the soil and covers them with mounds of straw, when ready to harvest they just push away the straw and pickup the potatoes. This totally makes sense and protects all the beneficial organisms in the soil. When we reached the back section of the farm Dan pointed out how they are growing their beans, squash and corn, he called it the Native American System. The corn is used to support the pole beans and the squash is planted between the rows, very cool. They are growing a few unique varieties of radishes for the fall; one is called a watermelon radish because it is red inside. I can’t wait to try it. Urbavo is in the Farmer 100% category, they only sell what they grow. Dan and Brook are at the City Market every Saturday, during the summer season, in the second pavilion stalls 55 and 56. Urbavo does a beautiful job displaying their produce; it is a joy to see.
I am going to take advantage of the holiday weekend and take a few days off this coming week so will not be visiting any farms. When I get back I plan on heading towards Columbia, Mo. Hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday.