Today is the day I head south to the Joplin area which means a really long day with a lot of driving. I can’t believe how cold it is today 45 degrees when I started out, is it really the end of May!
I will be making one big loop today so started in Carthage, Missouri at the Hansen’s. Craig grows one crop, elephant garlic, and he is very good at what he does. Since I usually just show up at the farms Craig was at work and his wife Kendra was visiting her mother. Since the garlic is not yet ready to harvest all I need to see is the field, once Craig harvests the garlic he will take the bulbs into his barn and place them on racks to dry, this is a very important step. As soon as the plants start to flower Craig cuts the flower of, which is edible, this allows the garlic bulb to increase in size. Otherwise the plant is putting everything into the flower. Craig will start harvesting the garlic next month and should have it dried and ready to sell by the last Saturday in June. Hillside Farm is located in the middle farmers shed in stall 89.
The Xiong family has been vendors at the Market since 2008 and is one of two familys who farm in the Joplin, MO area. To get to their farm you must first drive down a gravel lane, through a gate and through a pasture of cows. I have never arrived at the Xiongs farm when I did not find Nhia and Ying busy in the fields getting ready for Saturdays Market. Nhia walked me through his field explaining each row of plants, many I had never heard of. Some of the very unusual items are things his customers have requested and Nhia was able to locate the seeds. The Xiong’s farm has grown every year since they started selling at the Market and they even have peach trees now. Nhia doesn’t think they will have enough peached to bring to the City Market but he does plan to sell them at the smaller markets they sell at. Nhia has a walk in cooler so all the vegetables can be cooled after they are picked, this is a must. Nhia was fortunate enough last year to receive a grant to have a well drilled on his property; the pump is located on the south side of his fields. I am sure they haven’t needed to water much this year but by July and August this will be a game changer. Nhia has also participated in a food safety workshop to insure his produce and the handling of the produce is safe. The Xiong’s are at the Market every Saturday in stalls 83-86 and some Sundays.
The GPS thought I needed to do a little off-roading today and took me down some pretty muddy narrow roads to get to my next stop in Seneca, Missouri. I even had to drive through a few shallow streams, so glad I drive a truck. The Lee Family have a forty acre farm but only farm a portion of it. They also farm on their son’s property and the property of a neighbor. Their son Kong showed me around the farm pointing out the plants in each row. I am always amazed at the amount of vegetables they are able to grow in such rocky soil, I am sure it does major damage to their plow. Their lettuce, kale and Swiss chard look beautiful. We walked out to another field where they have potatoes planted, they aren’t quite ready yet but were doing very good. Like Nhia and Ying Xiong the Lee’s were also able to get a grant to have a will dug on their farm and have attended the food safety classes. Right now the Lee’s are only using a couple of their stalls at the Saturday Market but as their produce starts to come in they will be using all three stalls. The Lee’s are located in the third farmers shed located on the north side of the Market in stalls 116-118.
My last stop for the day is in Fort Scott, Kansas at the farm of Linda and Dennis Clayborn. They have been working very hard to meet all the states and cities guidelines for selling pork at the Market and will be bringing sausage and brats to the Market this weekend. They currently have 300 pigs who were not very happy to see me, they were a little grumpy and smelly. They have been super busy planting and are already picking romaine lettuce, kohlrabi, broccoli, kale, sugar peas, lettuce, beets, green onions, zucchini, potatoes, Swiss chard and spinach. I was surprised to see their field tomatoes were so tall and already producing green tomatoes to bring to the Market. They have planted 7000 tomato plants and 6000 assorted peppers, wow! The Clayborn’s have an abundance of produce already planted and still have more in the greenhouse to get in the ground. Linda and Dennis are at the Market every Saturday in stalls 92 and 99 and Sunday’s in stalls 39-40.
My Joplin trip is always a long day but it is so nice to get a chance to visit with everyone. It gets pretty hectic on the weekends and I don’t always get a chance to chat. I am taking a few days off next week for the holiday so won’t be visiting any vendors. The Market is a great place to get all your items for cooking out this weekend. Have a safe holiday!