Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer has officially arrived and today was the perfect summer day. I love this time of year when I travel through rural areas and the farms are bailing hay and cutting wheat, there is just something calming about it. I had planned to head north of Kansas City today but after double checking new vendor applications a little closer I realized I would be traveling down 71 highway again. For some reason I was thinking El Dorado Springs was north of the river.
Every year I also try to visit the vendors who are in the farm category with baked goods. These are vendors who have licensed kitchens on their farms or in their homes. Mike Pallo and his sister Pam fall under this category. When they first started coming to the Market in 2009 they were renting a commercial kitchen from a church which was not very convenient and they had trouble booking times that worked with their schedules. Pam had an area in her basement which they were able to convert into a licensed kitchen and equip the space with ovens, commercial refrigeration, mixers, prep tables and a three compartment sink. Mike was also lucky enough to find a rolling machine which really helps when he is making their wonderful povitica bread, since it needs to be rolled out very thin. After moving their operation to their own kitchen Mike and Pam were able to add a few new items. They now make a variety of caramels, which Mike was preparing to do when I arrived. My favorite flavor is the one with sea salt. Last year they expanded to freshly made soft pretzels with Mike’s “secret recipe” mustard for dipping. Pallo Povitica is at the City Market every Saturday throughout the year, they set up in the heated farmers shed during the winter months. During the summer months you will find them in the third farmers shed located on the north side of the Market in stall 141. For more information visit their web site at

After leaving Raytown, Mo I headed south to El Dorado Springs which is east of Nevada. I have never been through El Dorado Springs before and was surprised to find out it was a fairly good size town. I am always glad to find an abundance of restroom options since they are often very far and few between. Mike and his wife Krystal are new to growing for markets, they have always grown their own garden to provide food for their family and friends but never on a large scale. This year they decided to farm their 8 acres to sale at a farmers market. This is a big task considering Michal works full time and Krystal takes on line collage courses and takes care of their two adorable children. Michael was at his day job when I arrived so Krystal and the children walked with me through the fields. They are really keeping ahead of the weeds, everything looked wonderful. This year they planted mostly sweet corn, which should be ready to harvest any week now. They staggered their plantings but everything caught up so it might all be ready at the same time. In addition to corn they also planted water melons, cantaloupe, squash and green beans. The Williams family will be renting space at the Sunday farmers market if not this week definitely by the 5th of July.

I had to rethink my day so decided to head to Debbie and Hank Hubbard’s farm on the way back to Kansas City. The Hubbard’s have a few locations they farm. In the spring they mainly have bedding plants from their greenhouse at their home which is located in Adrian, Mo. Debbie also has a licensed kitchen where she cans pickles, pie fillings and tomatoes. Vendors who sell canned items have to complete a Better Processing Cource and send in samples of their products ph levels to be tested. By the time I made it to Adrian, Hank and Debbie were at their other location in Cleveland, MO which is about 26 miles from their home. This is the location where they grow tomatoes, mainly Jet Star and Beef Steak, and a huge amount of pumpkins. As we walked through the tomato field Hank showed me a few damaged tomatoes. Apparently wild turkeys like tomatoes but they don’t eat the whole thing just the middle. At their other location they also have peach, plum, nectarine, and cherry trees. The Hubbard’s are at the market most Saturdays and Sundays. On Saturday you will find them in the middle farmers shed in stalls 58 and 59, Sunday they are in the 1st farmer shed in stalls 18 and 19.

I won’t be visiting any farms next week since it is the 4th of July weekend and the holiday falls on a Friday. For all of you planning cookouts for next weekend sweet corn is now in season and field tomatoes are also starting to come on. I think I have a BLT in my future.

Sweet Corn Relish
·        6 ears of sweet corn
·        1 red bell pepper
·        1 red onion
·        2 Tbsp. minced flat leaf parsley
·        ¾ cup sugar
·        2/3 cup cider vinegar
·        1 Tbsp. mustard seeds
·        1 tsp. kosher salt
·        ½ tsp. cracked pepper 

·        Using a sharp knife, remove the corn from the cob and boil in salted water until tender.
·        Drain then cool to room temperature
·        Meanwhile, chop the pepper and onion then place in a large bowl
·        Add the parsley, vinegar and spices. Stir in the corn and chill for several hours.
·        Serves 4 to 6


Sunday, June 22, 2014

This week’s trip is one of the farthest I will do this year. By the time we got home we were in three states, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas, for a total of 636 miles and 15 hours. I always take a little company with me on this trip just in case I need a relief driver so Deb Churchill, Property Manager for the City Market volunteered.

We started by working our way south on 71 highway to Carthage, Mo to visit Craig Hansen, Hillside Farms. Craig has one crop, elephant garlic, and has spent much time researching the best growing method for garlic and after much trial and error produces a wonderful product. The garlic is planted in the fall using compose that he starts in the spring and makes out of turkey manure and wood-chips, I was surprised it did not have a bad odor. (Yes I smelled it!) This year’s crop is almost ready to harvest. Once the garlic is harvested the tops are cut off and the outer skin is peeled away to allow the bulb to dry. This process is always done with gloves since the garlic oil can burn your skin after handling the bulbs for prolonged periods of time. The drying process is done on large specially designed racks with multiple fans operating at all time to keep the air circulating. If all goes well Craig plans to be back at the Market on Saturday July 5th. Craig’s stalls are located in the 2nd farmers shed space 89. 

We continued south on highway 71 to Seneca, Missouri. Seneca is home to the Lee Family who have been vendors at the City Market for seven years. They are farming three locations this year, like many of our farmers they are expanding. In addition to the fields next to their home they have a field about a mile away and another near Freeman, Mo.   The Lee family grows a variety of eggplants which range in size, shape, color and flavor, a few I have never seen before. As always their field looked good. I am always amazed by the amount of rock they have to work around in the fields. You will find them at the Market every Saturday, up to the first frost, in pavilion three stalls 116 – 118.


Our next stop is Anderson ,Missouri which is a small town located on hwy 59. The Xiong family farm location makes me happy that we now have 4 wheel drive on the markets truck. The farm is located down a rocky lane, we had to stop and open a gate which is in place to keep in the cows, drive through the field and through another gate to reach the farm.  Nhia and daughter showed us through the fields pointing out many unique items they sell to various ethnic shoppers at the market. Some are used in salads, stir-fry’s, and for seasoning; many of which are very bitter and definitely an acquired taste. The purple peas where very beautiful and a favorite with many of the Markets’ early morning shoppers. These peas are not meant to be eaten raw since they are very bitter, but once cooked they are delicious. The Xiong’s have started farming a new section of land since we visited last year; they are farming approximately 6 acres with no more than 4 or 5 people to help.  Nhia is always looking for a new item to introduce to his customers a few I was not familiar with was chayote, moringa and dinosaur kale. The Xiong’s are at the Market every Saturday in pavilion two stalls 84-86.

After leaving Anderson we headed farther south to Summers, AR to the farm of Mainhia Moua, who happens to be Nhia Xiong's cousin. We found Mainhia and her husband busy in the field trying to finish up before a fast approaching rain storm hit. Their farm was beautiful with very few weeds, I was really impressed since they have had a lot of rain and heat, just what weeds like. Mainhia graciously showed us through her fields. The brussels sprouts would be ready soon, what a cool plant. They also were growing purple sweet potatoes, assorted peppers, beets, flowers and much more. The rain started to come in heavy so we ran for the truck. I hope we will see them at the Sunday Market soon but I would be a little surprised since it is at least a four hour drive to Kansas City.

Back in the truck we head NE to Springfield, Missouri. Deb and I wanted to visit the Farmers Market of the Ozarks Thursday evening market. This market is about two years old and is part of a brand new shopping center. Basically the shopping center was built with the farmers market in mind. This market is managed by Lane McConnel and was fairly busy for a week night. We looked like such tourist walking around taking pictures. I love to visit other farmer markets but never really am able to. There is another farmers market in Springfield, the Greater Springfield Farmers Market. Their Thursday market ended at noon so we were not able to get there on time.

We grabbed a quick dinner and headed home. We had a long day but I always enjoy visiting with the vendors away from the hustle of the Market. Next week I will be going solo and heading north of the river.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

It seems like it has been raining every Thursday for the last few weeks, I am so ready to have a sunny dry day to visit farms. I got a late start again this week so I thought I would visit two farms which are located on the same road in Pleasant Hill, Missouri. In the past I knew these two farms have had some issues with flooding from a nearby creek so I was not surprised to see a section of the road covered in water. I stopped where I was and called Kaying Lor to see if it was safe to cross over the creek since the water was not rushing. He told me that it was not a good idea and I took his word for this. Last year they were working in their fields and the creek suddenly rose and they had water up to the doors of their van, I wanted no part of that so gladly turned around.

Just up the road from Kaying Lor is the farm of Dennis and Youa Thao. They have two locations they farm in this area, one of which is on the other side of the flooded creek and the other is surrounded by bobbed wire and has a locked gate. Since I could not reach Dennis on the phone it looks like I will be heading back to Pleasant Hill in the near future.

As I head towards Leeton, Missouri I was sort of dreading the long uphill curvy drive I knew I would have to drive up to reach Janette and Don Neal’s home, especially since it was still raining. What a relief when I saw that the drive was in good shape. I found Janette busy baking bread to take to Sedalia to sale at their Friday farmers market, it smelled wonderful. Janette will bake bread on Friday to bring to the City Market on Saturday. The Neal’s put in a licensed kitchen a couple years ago in a n effort to extend their season, they are usually at the Saturday market during the winter. Janette quickly showed me what was left in their greenhouse and what they had planted in the surrounding fields, we did this as she watched the time so she would not burn the batch of bread she had in the oven. The fields close to their home get rotated every year and are currently planted with green beans, cherry tomatoes, okra, melons and a few more items which were just too muddy to reach. Janette and Don played tag team today showing me around. Don got in the truck and we drove to their main field which is about three miles from their home. This is where the bulk of their produce is grown. Don and I maneuvered around the large puddles and mud past 600 foot rows of beautiful cabbage, tomatoes, fennel, broccoli, watermelon, cantaloupe and purple kohlrabi.  Bristle Ridge farm grows a major amount of candied onions, 40,000 to be exact. The large onions were peeking out of the ground, I know what I will be buying on Saturday. The Neal’s sell at the City Market every Saturday and Sunday for most of the year and are located in shed 3 stalls 112-115 on Saturday and shed 2 stalls 57-59 on Sunday.

Next week we are off to Arkansas, Seneca, Anderson, Carthage and Springfield.