Friday, June 26, 2015

Today I thought it would be nice not to drive quite so far so I stayed in the south Kansas City and Bonner Springs area.

I made an appointment with Anna Sajovic, a new artist crafter vendor who makes unique items out of vintage album covers. Anna recently moved into a new home and had a really nice work area in her basement. The walls were lined with old vinyl albums, card stock and other equipment needed for binding and cutting stationary. Anna has been in business since 2013 selling her items at various arts and craft shows. She uses vintage album covers to make note pads, clocks, journals, memory books, luggage tags, book marks and tote bags. They are very cool and can even be special ordered. Anna will be selling at the Sunday market throughout the year when she is not booked at another craft show. For a look at what she will be selling visit her web site at

Once I was able to maneuver through all the crazy construction on 435 I arrived in Bonner Springs at Walt and Karlon Sephen’s home. The Stephens bring a great assortment of items to the Saturday and Sunday farmers Market. Walt is a bee keeper and has hives at his home and on other farms in the area. Walt showed me a few of these other locations, he drives a large loop checking on the hive throughout the summer. In the late fall Walt loads up all the bees and transports them to Texas for the winter. He has found he does not loose as many bees during the winter when he does this; it is well worth the effort. If you have bees it helps to have fruit trees and Walt has a great assortment of peaches, plums, nectarines and apples which he also sells at the Market. Karlon Stephens makes soaps and lip balms from the honey and honeycomb they collect from the hives. She also makes homemade sauerkraut which was fermenting in crocks on the counter. All the cabbage they use is from Debbie Crum’s farm and is pesticide free.  You will find Stephens Orchard and Apiary in stalls 141-142 on Saturdays and 67-68 on Sundays.

After jumping on 435 again I turned off on Holiday drive and arrived at the property that Randy Tillery farms. I found Randy resting under a shade tree after spending the morning replanting hundreds of pepper plants. As we walked through his fields Randy pointed out all the varieties he had planted and the struggles each has had this spring. Although we have had a wet spring his fields were bone dry now and he was in dire need of rain. Randy’s fields always look good when I visit and today was no exception. Tillery Farms first day back at the Market will be tomorrow and you will find them in stall 46 and 47. They will start back on Sundays once their crops start really coming in, they will be in the same location.

I wont be visiting any vendors for the next two weeks since it is a holiday and I also took a little time off.

A couple weeks ago I visited Washington Creek Lavender in Lawrence, KS, they were closed due to
flooding so I couldn't see the lavender. Jack sent me photos of everything in full bloom, darn I missed it.

The rain last night and this morning flooded some of the the vendors farms who come to the City Market. What a struggle the weather can cause.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The rain has finally stopped so I feel better about heading north of I -70. It is a little steamy today but I am not going to complain. I am heading up to Hale, MO for my first stop, never a really direct way to get there so I always opt to head up I-35 to 36 Hwy. Once I head south on 65 the road goes past a lake, from the looks of things if I would have come to Hale last week the water would have been up to the road.

Joe and Juby Bryson have been farming for years and now with the help of their family they have increased their farm by 30 acres. Joe was off with his son when I arrived so Pat showed me around the farm. In addition to having five greenhouse for planting and two for starting plants they also have a walk in cooler. Having a cooler is super important so you are able to drop the temperature of fruits and vegetables after you harvest them. The cooler was full of pie cherries, peaches which are part of their supplement product and come from Arkansas, green peas which were just picked yesterday, kalarabi and cabbage. When I arrived they were busy picking tomatoes from their greenhouse, they were even picking cherry tomatoes. It was a little steamy inside, perfect for tomatoes, not so much for people. They had another greenhouse where they were growing green beans. The plants were doing very well and producing a lot of beans. The third greenhouse was used for planting early squash such as zucchini, these plants were almost done and others had been planted in the fields. We strolled down each row of cabbage, kohlrabi, garlic, onions, broccoli, Swiss chard and squash. The additional 30 acres had been planted but things had to come to a halt with all the rain they have had so they have plants in one of the greenhouses just waiting to be transplanted. The new field had potatoes (Yukon gold, fingerlings, blue and red) Beets, bell peppers, purple hull peas, beets, sweet potatoes, turnips and squash. I was amazed when I saw their blackberry bushes, in years past the weeds were so high you could not tell what they were. Someone had really been working hard. In addition to blackberries they also have gooseberries, blueberries and mulberries. The Bryson’s have planted blueberries, gooseberries and rhubarb in big plastic tubs, I was so surprised to see how well the plants were doing and how much fruit was being produced. Bryson’s Farm Fresh Produce is at the Market every Saturday and Sunday and are in the Farm w/ Local Grown Supplement category so they can supplement up to 50 % of the produce they bring to the City Market. For additional information visit their web site at

I left Hale and drove west to Brunswick which is about a 40 minute drive and has a population of 859. Brad and Allison McGill are new vendors that will soon be selling at the Sunday Market. Brad was not at home when I arrived but told me to take a look around; their yellow lab kept me company. Behind their home they have a section cleared out with produce planted. The hill was pretty steep and wet so I did not take a chance getting closer. Behind their barn Brad had a greenhouse filled with tomatoes that were doing very well. Hazel Hill Hobby Farm is also in the Farmer w/ Local Grown Supplement category.

Back on the road I got on 24 Hwy towards Lexington, Mo, I have two farms to visit that are right across the highway from each other. Fahrmeier Farms has added a new road side you pick operation in addition to the family farm about a mile off of 24 hwy. I found Bret and Loren Fahrmeier in their blackberry patch visiting with Bill Hanks, another vendor at the Market. The berries look great and will be ready to bring to the Market this weekend. I had to try a few why we visited. The road side operation has strawberries (finished for this year), blackberries, and will have pumpkins and a corn maze in the fall. They use their store for their CSA members to pick up their produce for the week and also have a selection of fresh produce available. The location is easy to get to and not far from Kansas City, it makes a great day trip. I have one more farm to visit today and it is getting late, I will visit the family farm another time.

I jump in the truck and drive across 24 highway to Beckner’s Orchard. The Beckner’s have been providing some of the City Market vendors with peaches and asparagus for years. In addition to 90 acres of peach trees they also grow a wide assortment of vegetables to sell at area farmer markets. Jared drove me through all the fields for the grand tour. They had a crew of 15 sorting the peaches they had picked that day and thinning out the peach trees. Jared prefers to thin out the peaches after they start producing fruit, if this is not done the branches get too heavy and the peaches will be very small. This year they expect to have the best crop they have ever had and the season runs from June through Labor Day. The orchard consist of 30 varieties of peaches, they also have nectarines, plums, pears and apples. We drove along the corn field where they had corn planted in various stages so they will be able to have corn throughout the summer.  Jeff and Kelly Beckner will bring a nice variety of produce and fruit to the Market on Sundays starting this week. I also got a chance to visit with Mrs. Beckner, their very sweet grandmother.  

Not sure where the road will take me next week, I do have a new Sunday craft vendor to see so I might be staying a little closer to the city.  

Friday, June 12, 2015

I really dodged some rain drops today and ended up having beautiful weather. I hope the few dry days have helped to dry the farm fields out a little before we get hit with the next long stretch of rain. I feel bad for the farms located north of Kansas City; they got blasted this morning once again.

Today is pretty interesting. I am starting off by visiting a new vendor who grows peaches, plums, apples, cherries and pears. Before the day is over I will have visited vendors who sell buffalo, lavender and mushrooms, what a diverse group of vendors.

My first stop is in Cleveland, MO at Tubby Fruits Peach Orchard. I forgot to ask Mark Angermayer how their orchard got its name. I met Mark in the orchard where we looked at a wide variety of peach trees. Mark has done a lot of trial and error since he started growing peaches in 2004 behind his home. He has since expanded into a second location and has approximately 400 peach trees between both locations. Many of these trees Mark has started from grafting from other trees. Mark was pretty disappointed with the quality of peach from an early variety he had tried. The peaches are ready to pick this week and are supper juicy but they are not as sweet as Mark would like them to be so has opted not to sell them. Luckily the next variety should be ready in the next few weeks. Mark has chosen different varieties so he should have peaches early July through October In addition to peaches Mark also grows pears, pie cherries, blackberries, plums, a few varieties of apples and tomatoes. Mark will be selling at the City Market on Sundays throughout the summer and early fall.

Since I was so close to Belton I drove by KC Buffalo. Some of the heard were lounging in the field near the road so I was able to stop and snap a few pictures. Peter Kohl has been a vendor at the City Market for years selling various cuts of meats, summer sausage and buffalo jerky. In addition to selling at the City Market year round on Saturdays Peter and his wife Susan also have a small store on their property and their products are carried in some local stores as well. For more information visit their web site at

I had today marked on my calendar so I wouldn’t forget to visit Washington Creek Lavender in Lawrence Kansas when the lavender was in full bloom. I was so sad when I pulled up to John and Kathy’s driveway and saw a sign that the farm was closed due to flooding. I tried to give them a call to see if they thought it would be damaging the plants but I was in a dead zone and did not have phone service.  I visited their web site and got my answer all is not yet loss. The Wilson's sell their wonderful products at the Saturday Market as long as the weather is dry. Their product does not do well when it gets wet. For more information visit their web site at

We have another vendor who is in the Lawrence area so I headed to Wakarusa Valley Farm which is located fairly close to Washington Creek. I am guessing they named their farm after the Wakarusa River that runs through this area. I caught them at a bad time since Mark Lumpe was off the farm delivering CSA shares and Connor, who is the face you see at the City Market on Saturdays, was loaded up and heading out as well. Connor pointed me in the right direction and told me to just stay as long as I wanted. I roamed around but opted not to go in the greenhouses where they grow mushrooms since Mark was not there. I did see strawberry plants, tomatoes in the greenhouse and some fruit trees which Connor said are about 30 years old.  I walked through these areas last November and also plan to make an appointment with them to visit their new mushroom location in one of the caves in Kansas City. While I was on the road I received a call from Mark telling me they have not been able to get their vegetable plants in due to all the rain and will probably not be at the Market for awhile since the mushroom production has also slowed down. The weather is really messing things up for so many of our vendors. If you would like to learn more about Wakarusa Valley Farm visit their web site at

Blueberries and Peaches have started showing up at the Market. The Peaches are from Troy, Tennessee (475 miles) and the blueberries are from southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.

Next week I am heading north to visit a few new vendors and some of our contracted vendors in the area. I am hoping for a beautiful sunny dry day and no washed out roads.