Friday, April 24, 2015

My drive across 50 highway was beautiful. With all the rain we’ve had everything was bright green and some of the redbud trees were still in bloom. I am still visiting greenhouses with bedding and vegetable plants this week, for the most part, they will be selling at the market for seven more weeks. The exception is The Flower Farm, Keith Johnson usually stays through July.

Whenever I make the two and a half hour drive to Versailles I always think of the long days the vendors put in on Saturdays. They usually try to load their trucks the night before which means a late night. They need to arrive at the market no later the 5 a.m. so they can unload their truck and get set-up before the Market opens at 6 a.m. If you add a two to three hour drive home everyone is getting very little sleep and probably won’t get back home before 7 p.m. that night. Makes me tired just thinking about it.
After my two and a half hour drive I arrived at The Busy Bee, home and greenhouse of the Unruh family. Darrel, Diane and their children have been vendors at the Market since 2002. In 2013 they became contracted vendors so are in the 2nd farmers shed in stalls 60-63 every Saturday. I knew that the Unruh’s had been building a new home so was thrilled when Darrel asked me if I wanted a tour. The house is beautiful and will be completed after the flower season is done. All the children got to pick out their wall colors and I am green with envy of their kitchen. I had to get back on track. I strolled through their two large greenhouses filled with hanging baskets, succulents, a few tomato plants, and assorted trays of annuals. What a great way to start the day. Darrel and his daughters had just finished pulling freeze cloth off the plants located outside the greenhouse, there had been a threat of frost the night before. I was talking with Diane last Saturday at the Market about how they start their plants. They mainly start the plants with seeds or plugs.   Diane said they also propagate some of the plants. As I left Darrel was busy watering the plants which is a never ending task this time of the year.The greenhouses at their home is where they grow the plants, in addition to selling plants at the City Market they also have a retail location on 52 highway called The Busy Bee. I stopped by to say high to Diane on my way to my next stop.

Highway 52 Greenhouse is about 15 minutes from the Unruh’s retail location. As I pulled up I noticed the pieces of a new greenhouse laid out in the yard. Chris Pifer told me he loved growing tomatoes so much he bought a used super-sized greenhouse. Once constructed, it will cover ¾ of an acre and should house 6,000 tomato plants. If all goes as planned these plants should produce 1,200 pounds of tomatoes per week. Once the flower season is over Chris will start working on cleaning all the pieces and then painting each piece a bright white. This is really going to be something to see when it is completed. Chris hopes to have it up and tomatoes planted by October. I told him to call me when it is finished, I would love to see it. Chris has also constructed another building to house the furnace that heats there greenhouses. He installed a ramp to drive the front loader up to load sawdust into a hopper which has a conveyor belt that moves the sawdust into the furnace. He will install a second furnace house to provide heat to the new greenhouse, this will be much larger with a much taller stack. Chris currently has one large greenhouse where he has 500 tomato plants, they had just finished picking a couple rows when I arrived, the remainder where heavy with red and yellow tomatoes. He was experimenting with some grafted plants which were producing about 50 tomatoes for each plant, these plants were huge. Mrs. Pifer, Chris’s mom, oversees all the flowers they grow and does a really nice job choosing a mixture of plants for their hanging baskets and planters. In fact they were so nice I bought one while I was there. Chris showed me a bougainvillea he has been growing for three years, it was beautiful. He will be bringing this plant to the market this weekend. Chris Pifer has been a Sunday contracted vendor for a couple years, this year he also has a Saturday contract to sell tomatoes. Chris should be at the Market every weekend. 

My last stop for the day was a couple hours away but on the west side of the state. I will be getting back to Kansas City much later than I had planned, the upside is I will have missed rush hour traffic. Country Bloom Greenhouse is off of highway P in Rockville and has been a waiting list vendor for quite a few years. Waiting list vendors get a Saturday or Sunday stall if we have any available so the Klassen’s location will change every time they setup at the Market. Linferd and Judith have four greenhouses at their home all of which were filled with beautiful plants. Over the years they have added more and more succulents and are bringing beautiful moss baskets to the Market. Everything was in full bloom. 

I hope to finish visiting all the green house vendors next week so I am planning to head north to Saint Joe and Plattsburg. The Market will be bursting with flowers this weekend, my favorite time of the year.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

I picked the perfect day to hit the road, the weather was beautiful. All week I kept watching the weather and thought I would need to bring rain gear, so glad the weatherman changed the forecast. I am headed to Edgerton, Kansas where I have two vendors to visit who lucky for me, live on the same road. It is a perfect place for a day trip away from the city, within about two miles, there is a beautiful you pick farm, wonderful greenhouse and a winery.

Enright Gardens was my first stop, what a great way to start my day. The Enright family has been selling at the City Market for generations and has a wonderful selection of bedding and vegetable plants. The main greenhouse, which they use for selling flowers to the public was in full bloom and a sight to see. Everywhere I looked was a pop of color and a beautiful display. Enright Gardens consists of 18 greenhouses where they start the plants and then move them into the larger greenhouse to sell or move onto other wholesale destinations. One greenhouse is used strictly for growing tomatoes which they will sell at the City Market in a couple months. In addition to growing plants the Enright’s also operate a fantastic event space on their farm. They have a beautiful landscaped park, perfect for outside weddings and a great converted 5300 sq. foot barn for receptions or family gatherings. They did a great job renovating the space; it is really nice and elegant and even includes a dressing room for the bridal part.  Enright Gardens are at the Market on Saturdays and some Sundays April through around mid-June in stalls 48-51.beautifully landscaped park and have the reception in our new Banquet Hall.   Our 5300 square foot banquet hall includes new rest rooms and a dressing room for the

Just down the road is Geiringer Farm which is made up of about 320 acres and has really grown since my last visit a couple years ago. The Geiringers grow mainly peaches, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes, European cucumbers, cauliflower, orange peppers and row crops. I wish I had visited last week, Melanie told me all the 1000 peach trees were in bloom, I bet that was a sight to see. I am always amazed when I visit farms and find out there are things involved in growing fruits and vegetables you never think about. When peach trees are in bloom you need to go through each and every branch knocking off some of the blooms, if you don’t do this the peaches will be really small. Each bloom could form a peach; in fact inside each bloom a small peach has already started forming. I am always learning new things. The Geiringer’s grow their 3000 strawberry plants on mounds covered with plastic and replant every year. Customers can come out and pick strawberries at their patch hopefully by mid May if the weather continues to be good. For information on their u-pick operation visit their website at

Just a short drive from Edgerton and I arrived at The Flower Farm operated by Keith Johnson and his family. Keith is also a long time vendor at the City Market and sets up in stalls 69-71 April through July. As always I found Keith busy at work watering plants. It was a little warm on Thursday and the plants were getting pretty big so would have to be watered twice that day. This is a never-ending task since Keith also has 18 greenhouses, although they are smaller than the Enright’s they are jammed packed with a wide assortment of plants including tropicals. The Flower Farm is my go to place when I want a house plant. Keith showed me a cactus he has had for twenty years that was in full bloom, which was rare, it was beautiful. I believe he said it was a star cactus. In addition to bedding plants, tropical’s, herbs, roses, ground cover and succulents Keith also has blooming trees and berry bushes such as gooseberry. Keith is one of the very few vendors that make his own organic potting soil with compose and then heats it to ensure there are no pests to harm the plants. I asked Keith if he sold the potting mix at his greenhouse but unfortunately he said it was quite the process just having enough for all the plants he sells, darn. I have bought potting mix in the past from stores only to have an infestation of gnats. For more information about The Flower Farm visit their web site at

My last stop for the day is in Blue Springs, MO to verify a new artist crafter vendor at the Market. I was excited to hear he did wood working since we currently do not have any vendor doing this. Thomas Padilla shares a workshop with his long time friend and has been learning the art of woodworking. They had just finished staining very nice mirrored shelves/coat rack, perfect for hanging in an entryway. Tomas had made at least 15 handled tool boxes perfect for holding three small plants, they were very cute. The workshop was stacked to the ceiling with various types of wood in all sizes and very nice equipment capable of doing any task. I was very impressed with the wooden boxes and picture frames made with various inlaid woods, they were quite beautiful. Thomas plans on coming to the Market next week if everything goes as planned. He will have an assortment of planters and pot hangers perfect for any backyard.

Next week I am planning to head to the Versailles and Rockville area so I am hoping for perfect traveling weather. I try to visit all the greenhouses in the next couple of weeks since their season at the market is fairly short. The Market should be loaded with flowers and vegetable plants next weekend and we are starting to see a little asparagus come in. Saturday the 25th is also the City Markets “Get Your Green On” recycling event. For additional information visit our web site at under events.

Friday, April 10, 2015

I am sticking close to Kansas City today but plan to really hit the road next week and visit farms all day. My goal is to visit all the vendors in the farm category every year so if I don’t get started in April this just won’t get done. This time of year I focus on vendors selling vegetable and bedding plants, meats and early greenhouse tomatoes. 

Today I visited a new vendor from Kansas City who loves to grow tomato plants but had to really think way outside the box. Kay Kilgore does not have a greenhouse so converted one of her bedrooms into a growing room. The space has large windows, good light and she keeps the space warm. Kay grows heirloom tomato plants which she starts from seeds and then transplants into red solo cups. She currently has about 700 plants in her small space, most of which are tomato plants with a few cauliflower, broccoli and burgundy okra as well. She hopes to have plants available throughout the summer and will be setting up at the Sunday farmers market in the coming weeks. Kay also has quit a few saplings planted around her yard and hopes to pot them up and bring them to the Market in September.

I wanted to make sure I made it to Huns Garden this morning so I could get a photo of all their tulips before they start cutting them to bring to the Market this weekend. Huns garden is located in Kansas City, Kansas west of 635. The tulips were beautiful! Chaxamone told me for some reason the tulip stems were a little short this year and she wasn’t really sure why. Short or tall they will still look beautiful in a vase. I am always sad that tulips have such a short season, so you better buy them while you can. Huns Garden is located in stall 76 this Saturday, for more information visit their web site a

I received an email on Thursday from Buds and Berries, located in Adrian, MO, along with some photos of the storm damage from Wednesday night. I am always amazed at the damage the wind can do. This time of year is very scary for farmers. Hail can totally destroy a crop or the plastic on greenhouses and high tunnels and the right gust of wind can do this to the frame of a greenhouse. Luckily no one was hurt and Gayle Beachner expects to have strawberries at the Market by mid May if all goes well. I am keeping my fingers crossed and can’t wait to buy fresh Missouri strawberries.

Just a reminder, the City Market shops and restaurants are open year round, seven days a week. The farmer market vendors are at the Market on Saturdays 6:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and on Sundays 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The City Market yard sale takes place every Saturday in the City Market Park and on Sundays on the east side of the Market Square.