Friday, September 19, 2014

I had to switch up my schedule this week and visit a farm on Wednesday. I was in Columbia, Missouri for a meeting so decided to visit DanJo Farms while I was there. The drive to Columbia was not very relaxing; the rain was really coming down for at least half of the trip. At one point the rain was so heavy I decided to pull off at a gas station till it let up. Things dried out once I got east of Higginsville, thank goodness.

DanJo Farms is located in Moberly, Missouri, just north of Columbia. Dan and Joanne Nelson have been contracted vendors at the City Market since 2012 and drive over to Kansas City every Saturday year round. The Nelsons do a little bit of everything at their farm. They have a licensed kitchen and bake sourdough, sweet and artisan breads, rolls and cookies, which Joanne and her son were working on when I arrived. They also grow a variety of produce to add to their stalls including fresh herds. Their vegetable plants were still producing a little but like most farms this time of year summer crops are slowing down and the fall crops are getting rotated in. They had a terrible beetle infestation in their kale and since they opt not to use pesticides, the rows of kale were totally destroyed. Tucked away behind their vegetable rows are a few honey hives, I usually keep a large distance between the bees and myself, you never know when they are having a bad day. Dan also brings meat and eggs to the market. They raise beef, turkeys, pigs, sheep, ducks and chickens, a real menagerie. All of their animals are fenced but have plenty of room to roam, the chickens, turkeys, ducks and a pig greeted me when I arrived. I was afraid I would back over them when I left but they all stayed clear of the truck. Joanne told me they have about 30 turkeys which will be ready in time for Thanksgiving, once they put on a little more weight. They do take orders.

DanJo Farms is in the supplement category at the Market so they are allowed to purchase no more than 50% of the items they bring from another local farmer or from one of the local produce auctions. The Nelson’s supplement jams and jellies, pickles, salsa, mustards, fruits and some vegetables. You will find DanJo Farms at the City Market every Saturday year round in the middle farmers shed in stalls 78-80. For additional information visit their web site at

Next week my schedule is a little crazy so I will not be able to do any farm visits but plan to get back on the road the following week. I visited with most of our vendors last Saturday and some of them plan to keep selling at the Market till at least mid to late October, the date of the first heavy frost will affect this. Many of the vendors plan to stay through Thanksgiving and others will stay till Christmas. The City Market is open year round so please continue to support our vendors and small family farms.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I was back on the road again today after taking a week off last week for a much needed break. I can’t believe I actually needed to wear a jacket this early in September, it was a little chilly.  I have a new crafter vendor to check today in Lake Lotawana, Missouri and a farm in Richmond, Missouri.

Jeffery Morlan lives just around the corner from one of our long time vendors, Gayle and Mike Pappas. I would have visited with them today since I was so close but they were working at their store in Zona Rosa where they mainly sell calendars. I will have to stop by another time. Jeffery prints photos on canvas stretched frames which he builds in various sizes. He will be working with his father to put some of his original art work on a few items. Jeffery also makes coasters, mouse pads, pet mats and plant pads out of material that comes in big sheets which he cuts to the desired shape. This foam material is covered in cloth so it can be printed on. Jeffery has a very large printer and other equipment so he can make a large number of items fairly easily. His equipment is spread around his basement, shed and back deck. Jeffery will be coming to the Market on Sundays starting this week.

After crossing back over I-70 I headed north to Richmond, this area is beautiful to drive through. I met Keith Calvert in his driveway when I pulled up, he was just getting in his truck to leave so our visit was short. Pulling into his drive it was obvious he is growing a lot of green beans and corn. His corn is pretty much done and he opted not to plant a late crop this year. He is happy he made this decision with the cold spell we are having. If he had planted another crop he might not have gotten much of a yield for all his time and money spent. He is hoping the rain in the forecast holds off so they can get in the fields and pick beans for this weekend. In addition to farming Keith also runs a bird hunting preserve on his farm. With the cold snap he is getting bombarded with calls for reservations. Keith sells at the City Market on Saturdays during the middle of the summer once his first crop of corn comes on and while he still has plenty of green beans. His stall is located in the middle farm shed in stall 68. For more information visit his web site at

I have visited most of our vendors in the farm category this year but still have a few more to get to. I am running out of time and have already driven almost 5000 miles since April. If we get the heavy frost which is predicted we will see some vendors start to drop out. It depends where they live and what they are growing. Let’s hope the weatherman is wrong, it is just way too early for a frost. 

Next week I am heading to Columbia, Missouri for a state wide meeting but should be able to get one farm visit in while I am there, DanJo Farms is located just north of Columbia.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Last week I went north to Nebraska, this week I changed directions and headed south. Weather wise it was a perfect day for a drive, not too hot and dry. Although the farmers who live south and east of Kansas City could really use some rain. Joe Waltman from Buffalo, Missouri told me he has not gotten more than a drizzle of rain for at least 8 weeks. It all depends where you live in the state.

If you follow my blog every week you might remember Matt and Nora Trammell who grew pink oyster mushrooms in their apartment in Overland Park. This year they have expanded their operation and moved to Warrensburg, which was my first stop today. I waited for Matt to come outside before I got out of the truck since they have to very large German shepherds who weren’t barking or moving, they were just watching me. I am not one to take chances so I just stayed in the truck. Turns out they were two sweeties who just liked to be petted. Matt’s mushroom operation has really expanded with the addition of more space. They now have a large shed which houses the mushrooms that are ready to produce. Matt explained that they have tried numerous containers for growing the mushrooms and have found that plastic ice bags and straw seem to work the best. They start the process in their basement which has the perfect amount of natural light and dampness. There is a lot more to growing these beautiful mushrooms than I can begin to explain but Matt and Nora are always more than happy to explain the process and even sell starter kits so anyone can grow these wonderful mushrooms at home. With the addition of more space they have also started growing Lion Mane and shitake mushrooms. For more information visit their web site at The Trammell’s are not at the Market every week since they don’t always have enough mushrooms ready to sell. You can reach out to them on their web site for possible days they will be coming to the City Market. When they have a bumper crop you will also find them at the Saturday Overland Park Market. The following recipe is off of their web site, it sounds like a keeper.

Kale Salad
1 pint oyster mushrooms, sliced
Feta cheese, crumbled
Avocado, sliced
Walnuts, chopped
Cucumber, slices
Red onion, slivers
Balsamic vinaigrette
Combine ingredients to taste, use as much or as little of what you want.
Tip: I like to braise my mushrooms with the onions and a little wine for extra flavor. Then I sauté my kale for a few minutes and toss everything together. Yummy!

Due to the long distance I was only able to check two farms today. The second and last stop was in Buffalo, Missouri which is located north of Springfield. Joe Waltman farms about 4 acres consisting of a variety of items ranging from vegetables, blueberry bushes, azaleas and ornamental shrubs, he has a little bit of everything. Luckily Joe has well water available for watering his vegetable crops, without it everything probably would have burnt up by now. Joe, like all farmers, are always experimenting to see what will work best for their soil and their growing preference. Joe has found that a black materiel similar to what you put down in your flower beds works best for him and unlike the black plastic you see in many fields is reusable year after year. The black cover helps keep the moisture in and still allows the air to circulate. The best advantage, it controls the weeds, Joe hates to pull weeds. This is obvious when we got to the blueberry bushes, but in Joe’s defense the weeds are helping to protect the young plants from the extreme heat from the sun, weeds are not always a bad thing. Joe’s vegetable field looked beautiful despite the lack of rain. He grows three varieties of cantaloupe, various tomatoes including heirlooms, eggplant, pumpkins, cucumbers, butternut squash, leeks and the list goes on. I did find out an interesting fact today, blue berry bushes can live for 100 years if taken care of properly. Joe will be a waiting list Sunday vendor who we hope to see at the market in the very near future. In addition to selling at the City Market Joe is also a vendor at the Greater Springfield Market on Saturdays.

I have decided to take a few additional days off next week so will not be visiting any farms on Thursday but will be back at it for the month of September. Have a safe holiday weekend and don’t forget to swing by the City Market for all your weekend supplies.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Early morning start to today’s trip, we needed to be on the road by 6:00 a.m. As with most of my really long trips I had company today. Justin Cottrell, one of the owners of KC Commercial Realty Group, the company that manages the City Market and Deb Churchill Property Manager for the Market will be riding along. By the time we all got back today we had driven in four states, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. Farm vendors who sell at the City Market are required to farm with-in a 500 mile radius of the City Market. Our first farm was a short 237 mile drive so we were only able to visit three farms today.

Brainard, Nebraska is the home of Jisa’s Farmstead Cheese. The farm is owned and operated by Dave Jisa the only farmer we have coming to the Market from Nebraska. We all were exited to tour the farm and cheese processing plant. We were greeted by Julie Walsh who oversees the cheese making process and distribution of all their cheeses. Dave oversees the dairy farm which includes growing all their own feed, and the milking and care of all the cows. Lad Jisa’, Dave’s father, started the dairy farm in 1946 with just a few Holstein cows.  They currently milk 300 cows per day at 2:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. in the milking barn. (I no longer have any reason to wine about coming to work at 4:30 a.m.) Dave has about 800 cows and plans to add another 300 head, they are in the process of building a new barn to house them. Some of the cows are used for breeding others for milking and many are young calves. The entire heard is made up entirely of cow’s bread and raised on Dave’s farm and the cheese is made entirely from milk from his farm. I found it very interesting that they had to adjust the cows feed throughout the year depending on the season to guarantee the consistency of the milk. If the milk is not consistent the taste of the cheese won’t taste the same either. 

The cheese making area was super clean and everyone was busy seasoning and bagging cheese curds and making a batch of cheddar cheese. Jisa Cheese has a very small staff so everyone works very hard to produce the amount of cheese they currently make for grocery stores and schools. Most of their customers are located in the Kansas City area. Once the cows are milked, the milk is transported down the road to the processing plant where it is pasteurized before it is used to make the cheese. During the cheese making process the PH levels need to be constantly monitored, this is done by the cheese maker who we could see takes a lot of pride in the product he produces. Julie explained that the time will vary in making the cheese depending on the variety, cheddar takes the longest. I love meeting people who take such care in producing the food that comes to the City Market. Jisa Farmstead Cheese will be at the City Market for the next five weeks and possible into the fall and winter. You will find them in stall 137 in the 3rd shed.

We left at 6 a.m. and did not arrive at our second farm until 3:30 p.m., lots of driving time today. I always know when I am getting close to King City, Missouri; you can’t miss the mile after mile of wind turbines. I just think they are so cool and a little mesmerizing to watch. When we arrived at Lost Creek Farm we found Darrel and his son Todd busy in the fields picking purple hull peas and Donna had just finished baking zucchini bread and cinnamon rolls, the smell was amazing. The Clausen’s have an out building they converted into a commercial licensed kitchen. So in addition to selling produce in their stalls they also have baked goods all the way through Christmas. After leaving the kitchen Donna had to show off their new walk in cooler. Having a cooler is supper important; once the vegetables are harvested you have to get them cooled down. This is not true for tomatoes, no refrigeration for them. Earlier that morning they picked two large totes of green beans. After being in the truck most of the day it was a nice change to walk around in the fields. Darrel had a major setback earlier in the summer. His neighbor had his corn fields sprayed and the spray drifted into Darrel’s freshly planted fields a killed many of the tender plants and stunted his tomatoes. Luckily the company that sprayed attempted to make it right by them, but more often than not this is not the case. But like any good farmer Darrel pulled on his boots and replanted. Since everyone was busy we strolled through the fields on our own trough the tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, okra, peppers, green beans, cabbage and potatoes. Donna and Darrel are at the Market every Saturday in the first covered shed in stalls 9-10.

Last state and lost stop for the day is Wathena, Kansas at Goode Acres. John farms a beautiful section of land that overlooks the Missouri river and was once an apple orchard. He has since added three high tunnels and had the land terraced. The August heat has taken a toll on many of his plants, some of which he has started to replant. John grows 5 kinds of basil which looked to be doing pretty well. He had a few rows of an assortment of peppers and eggplant. His cucumbers looked to be winding down as did his tomatoes. John said he was getting ready to dig sweet potatoes which were located in the lowest field. Goode Acres is one of the few farms I visit that raises celery. Goode Acres sells at the Market in the Farmer w/ Local Supplement Category, which means he must grow at least 50% of all the items he brings to the Market. I will be visiting John’s farm again next month as I do with many of the vendors who sell in this category. You will find Goode Acres in the first covered farmers shed in stalls 5-8. For more information visit John’s web site at

On Thursday I will be heading to Buffalo Missouri to visit a possible new vendor and Warrensburg to visit a mushroom farm. The weather is supposed to cool down later in the week so I am anticipating a beautiful drive around the lakes.