Sunday, May 24, 2015

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!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Due to meetings this morning I only had a few hours to visit farms so I stayed close to the city. We have two new vendors who will be selling produce and vegetable plants at the Sunday farmers market both live in the Kansas City area, perfect stops for today plus one of them would like to start this weekend.

What a wonderful surprise I got today when I arrived at the Reeder’s home in Kansas City, Kansas. The Reeder’s operate a school from their home called “Little Sprouts” As part of the children’s education they teach them how to plant vegetable seeds and grow them into plants which are then put into the garden to be harvested. The seeds are started in a small greenhouse behind their home, they grow tomato, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage plants which they will sell at the Market.

The Reeder’s back yard was just beautiful! It made me want to go home and plant more flowers. In addition to the raised beds for their vegetables they also had a house for chickens and a few goats. The eggs from the chickens are for their own use and the goats are just fun. I just had to take pictures of all the children’s little rubber boots they wear in the garden, too cute! Once the boots are worn out they are used as flower planters and hung on the fence. What a wonderful place for children. Natalie told me the children love watching the vegetables grow and picking them to see who found the biggest one. Natalie will have vegetable plants for sale at the market on Sunday.

Marie Chang’s farm is on south east side of Kansas City, Missouri, not too far from what once was Banister Mall. Marie has recently moved to Kansas City from Joplin and is growing vegetables with her mother Neng. It was pretty muddy in their fields so I stayed along the edges but could certainly see they had a head start on getting their vegetable plants in. They farm 5 acres which is sectioned off for green onions, lettuce, bok choy, spinach, kale, beets, peppers and herbs. They won’t be ready to come to the market for a couple of weeks but I am sure we will see Marie very soon at the Sunday Market.

The Market will be very full of vendors this weekend with or without rain in the forecast, AGAIN!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Today I opted to stay at my desk and catch up on my emails and phone messages. This was an easy decision to make since I knew all the farm fields would be a muddy mess. I have been stuck in the mud more than once while checking farms in the spring.

This weekend is the perfect time to visit the City Market; the Market will be in full bloom.  We have twenty two vendors with bedding and vegetable plants, cut flowers and herbs. Bird’s Botanicals has a beautiful selection of Orchids and carnivorous plants. 

If you’re looking for something a little different for your mom check out the craft tents located on the east side of the Market on Saturdays and under the farmers sheds on Sunday. All vendors in the craft category must make their items and be the person selling them at the Market.  You will find soaps, scrubs, potpourri, candles, melts, yard art, purses, apron, jewelry, tag art, unique wine sap buckets, and flatted wine bottle, tie dye clothing. Let’s hope Mother Nature cooperates this weekend so all the vendors can come out. Handmade items and rain and wind just don’t mix well.

Strawberries are coming into the market this weekend and should be in abundance by next week, they just need a little more sunshine.

Strawberry Spinach Salad
6 cups baby spinach
1 ½ cups fresh strawberries
½ cup red onion
¾ cups pecan halves
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Bake pecan halves in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes, cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Wash berries and then remove tops and slice. Slice the onion thinly. Add spinach, berries, onions and pecans to dressing and toss to coat. Serves 2.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

My plan for today was to visit the last of the Markets greenhouse vendors that grow bedding plants so I headed north. At one time we had quite a few vendors coming down from north of the river but as the years have passed the number has dwindled. Some vendors have passed away, others have retired or given up farming completely. As I drive past certain areas they look familiar and I realize I have been here checking a farm at one time or another.

I decided to hit the farthest farm first and work my way back to Kansas City. First stop Wathena, Kansas and Goode Acres. John Goode is not a greenhouse vendor but does sell bedding plants / hanging baskets that he purchases from the Amish owned auction in Jamesport, Mo. John is in the Grower with local supplement category so can supplement no more than 50% of what he brings to the City Market each Saturday, bedding plants are part of Johns 50%. As I rounded the corner heading up to the farm I spotted the newest addition to the farm, sheep. There were two of the cutest babies but every time I tried to take a picture the adults surrounded around them, darn. I need to say John does not sell meat at the Market, I think he has sheep to keep his hillside trimmed. I am a little early in the season to see an abundance of produce but they have planted tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, broccoli, beets, parsnips, onions, kale and potatoes. They are harvesting a few strawberries, very few, an assortment of fresh herbs and Swiss chard. Part of Johns 50% that comes from his farm is BBQ wood which he cuts , bundles and brings to the market. You can choose from hickory, apple, pear, peach, cherry and oak. You will find Goode Acres at the City Market every Saturday April through October in the first covered farmers shed in stalls 6-7-8.

I always love the drive on 169 between Saint Joe and Plattsburg, it is a little hilly and there are some really beautiful houses along the way. The Hanks family, William, Clara, Bill and Jennifer have been vendors at the market since 2006, their stalls are located in the first farmer shed in stalls 32-35. They are the only vendor that raises bedding plants and also grows produce. Their four greenhouses were full of beautiful plants and they were busy with customers most of the time I was there. I believe they are the only vendor bringing rose bushes to the Market and they have a nice selection. William showed me the fields they have planted, they missed a Saturday at the Market so they could plant. They have cabbage, broccoli, kale (which is ready to pick) and cucumbers which got hit with frost so needs to be replanted. They have another field ready with plastic to plant watermelons as soon as they get the chance. Last year they had a high tunnel put in for planting tomatoes, this is not heated like a greenhouse and the sides can be raised as the weather warms up. This allows you to get the plants in early since they are protected from frost, which means earlier tomatoes. For more information or for directions to their farm visit their web site at

I’m not sure which direction I will head next week I will need to check my list. I also have new Sunday waiting list vendors that I will need to visit before they are allowed to rent a space and I have a feeling everyone’s produce will be coming on at the same time.

Next weekend is Mothers Day; the City Market is a great place to find beautiful handmade items, cut flower bouquets and hanging baskets. The Market is open on Saturday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.