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.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What a beautiful day to be out and about. Today Nathan, our City Market intern, went with me to the farms. The company is always welcomed and he takes better notes than I do. We did not travel very far today but were able to visit six farms. Although the City Market allows vendors to farm within a 500 mile radius, many of the Markets vendors live in areas surrounding Kansas City.

Our first stop is at Huns Garden in Kansas City, Kansas. Chaxchamone Lor has taken over running the farm since Pov’s new job does not allow him much time to farm. Walking through their fields I get the feeling that Chaxcamone enjoys growing flowers for bouquets much more than produce. The zinnias were beautiful and planted by color so each row was different. Most vendors buy their seeds mixed so the fields are variegated. She also had rows of cosmos and sunflowers. In addition to growing flowers Chaxcamone also grows Thai peppers, bell peppers, parsley, eggplant, carrots, watermelons, basil and tomatoes. They also had some melons growing but I was not exactly sure what kind they were, I will have to ask when I see them on Saturday. Huns Garden is at the Market every Saturday in stalls 75, 76, 77 and on Sundays in stalls 77 and 78.

About 10 minutes later we arrive at Randy Tillery’s farm. Randy farms a large section of land off 435 on the Kansas side. We found Randy out in the fields on his tractor and Marsha cleaning produce under a shade tree. The one thing Nathan and I will remember from this visit is the mosquitoes. Oh my, I thought they were going to carry Nathan away. They were large and weren’t really effected by bug repellent. Randy said they were picking water melons the night before and went through two bottles of bug repellent. Needless to say we walked threw his fields very quickly. Randy always has wonderful watermelons so decided to add a later crop to carry him into September but the deer seem to be getting to them first.  They had a great selection of assorted colored bell peppers. The weeds are starting to win the battle in the pepper field, the up side, the weeds help to protect the peppers from getting sun burned. As we raced through the fields swatting off mosquitoes we saw rows of summer squash, green beans, eggplant, corn, cabbage, okra, onions, melons and sweet potatoes. You will find Tillery farms at the Market every Saturday June through the first heavy frost in stalls 46 and 47.Randy also has been selling at the Market on Sundays in the same stalls.

Unfortunately the mosquitos followed us into the truck so we spent the next few miles swatting them. The cars behind us probably wondered what was going on. We headed north on 435 to 45 highway. The Market has four vendors who farm along 45 highway in Parkville, Farley and Platt City. We decided to go to Platt City first and visit the Oberdiek’s. Zachery Oberdiek sells at the Sunday Market in stall 84. They also sell at the Parkville farmers market on Saturdays. We found Zachery and his dad Gary just coming in from the tobacco fields. The Oberdiek’s farm 1000 acres, mainly in corn, soybeans and tobacco. The crops they grow for market are sweet corn, watermelons, summer squash and greenhouse tomatoes. I visited the greenhouse in the early spring when Zachery was bringing early tomatoes to the Market. His green house is very impressive. He has since replanted the tomatoes so should have tomatoes into late fall and early winter. Remember the City Market is open year round so vendors try to do new things that will extend their growing season.

A few minutes down the road and we arrive at Lloyd and Addie Horns. Addie sells wonderful homemade baked items at the Market every Saturday in stall 128. She has a really nice licensed kitchen on the side of their home. My husband and I are hooked on her little fruit pies. Addie also sells cookies, tarts and cinnamon rolls. It seems like I catch Lloyd napping every time I visit his farm. Many of the vendors work in the fields early in the morning and again in the evening when it is a little cooler. Lloyd walked with Nathan and I through the fields, he has row after row of various types of tomatoes. My favorite variety is the Juliet tomato which is bigger than a cherry tomato and smaller than a Roma, they are wonderful. Lloyd also grows okra, peppers, potatoes, sweet onions and red onions. He has started preparing the ground to replant his late summer/fall crops. Dry Lake Farm is at the Market on Saturdays through the first heavy frost located in shed three in stalls 125-128.

I could get use to these short little drives, about two miles down the road and we arrive at Michael Pearls garden. The weeds were defiantly winning the battle at this farm; it was a little hard to see what was what. The okra plants were huge and the okra was very large so very tuff. The water melons did look really good as did the eggplant. Michel also was growing tomatoes, zucchini, green beans and yellow squash. Michael is a Sunday vendor who would be in stall 15 but he has not yet made it to the Market this year.

Last stop for the day is at Floyd and Mike McFarland’s located at 45 highway and 435 in Parkville, Missouri. Floyd has been a vendor for many years and started coming to the City Market with his family when he was just a child. He now farms his land with his son Mike. Floyd drove us around his fields; he said his legs needed a rest. The fields were full of a variety of tomatoes. I bought yellow cherry tomato from Floyd last week and they were like eating candy. Floyd and Mike also grow assorted peppers, onions, cabbage, cucumbers and squash. The McFarland’s are at the Market every Saturday April through the first heavy frost. You will find them in shed one in stalls 0-2.

Next Thursday I will be heading north to Nebraska to visit a dairy farm where they make Jisa Cheese. This should be a fun day and a really nice drive.