What a long...cold...winter! I visited with many of the vendors off and on throughout the winter and what struggles many of them have had. For those that raise live stock it was a constant struggle to keep the animals water from freezing and keep them safe from the extreme cold. Vendors who operate greenhouses struggled with the high price of propane and keeping their greenhouses heated. I am hoping for a mild spring this year, please no snow in May!
The City Market is a year round market, which many people don’t realize. We had farmer market vendors in the heated pavilion every Saturday this winter and even a few on Sunday. The number of farmer market vendors will increase every weekend as spring produce, vegetable plants and bedding plants become in season. If you’re not sure what items are in season in this area visit the City Market web site at www.thecitymarket.org and check out the “Harvest Calendar”. Some of the time frames may vary a little due to the weather and some items might show up a little early if the vendor has a greenhouse or high tunnels.
A couple of weeks ago I started doing a few farm visits. This time of year we receive a lot of new applications so I am usually very busy checking these new vendors. One of the City Markets newest vendors is Andy Grevitt owner of Anna Mae Farms in Drexel, Missouri. Andy is fairly new to the hydroponic world but has done an excellent job with his first greenhouse. When I visited Drexel Andy was harvesting basil, Chinese kale and bibb lettuce. Since that time he has been at the City Market twice, it was wonderful to see fresh produce again. Anna Mae Farms will be at the Sunday farmers market starting in May.
For those of you who are not familiar with hydroponic growing methods here is a little bit of information. “Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Researchers discovered in the 18th century that plants absorb essential mineral nutrients as inorganic ions in water. In natural conditions, soil acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir but the soil itself is not essential to plant growth. When the mineral nutrients in the soil dissolve in water, plant roots are able to absorb them. When the required mineral nutrients are introduced into a plant's water supply artificially, soil is no longer required for the plant to thrive.” (Information from Wikipedia)
On my way to Drexel I stopped in Edgerton, Kansas and visited Sue and Steve Enright. They own and operate Enright Gardens located on N 400 Road just west of Edgerton. In addition to having a wonderful selection of bedding plants, vegetable plants and assorted yard accessories they also operate an event space on their farm. Normally when I visit this time of year their greenhouse is bursting with beautiful hanging baskets. But this year, due to the extreme cold, they have just recently started planting the baskets. I was a little bummed out; I was in the mood for a blast of spring colors. I guess I will just have to be patient. (www.enrightgardens.com )
Last week I broke away from the office to visit a new vendor from Parkville, Missouri. Pamela Houck started a home business a couple of years ago making salsa. Her business is called Pammy Sue’s Kitchen and she currently offers ten different varieties of salsa with varying heat. All of the vendors at the City Market who make a processed food item are required to have a licensed kitchen and in this case Pamela had to also complete the “Better Process Control” classes. Pamela hopes to start selling her salsa at the City Market every Sunday starting in April. For more information visit her web site at www.pammysuesalsa.com.
I can’t wait to get back on the road again. Spring is finally here!