I always know when I am getting close to Union Star; I see the wind turbines in the distance. No matter how many times I see these I always have to stop and take pictures. Today the wind was barely blowing so they were hardly moving at all. So cool!
Donna and Darrel Clausen’s farm and commercial kitchen is located in King City, MO. Darrel met me when I pulled in. One of the many things I like about visiting the farms is to have the chance to actually visit with the vendors. The weekend market gets a little hectic so I very seldom get a chance to catch up with them. Darrel talked about the struggles he has had growing vegetables this year. He could not remember a year when they had so much rain this late into the summer and such large amounts of rain each time. He has replanted things many times this year and some vegetables, such as okra, he has just given up. Darrel recently attended a workshop on how to grow elderberries and since has planted a 1/4 acre. The plants will start yielding fruit next year and in three years they should be producing an abundance of fruit. If things goes as he hopes he might opt to switch over to elderberries entirely. Elderberries can be made into so many things that it will open up so many options for them and for the items they can sell at the winter market. Although Darrel has struggled this year he has managed to save some of his crops and has broccoli, cabbage, carrots, dill, assorted peppers, green and yellow beans, purple hull peas, and tomatoes and with some luck fall squash.
I found Donna busy baking in the kitchen. They have a separate building which houses a licensed kitchen so they can bake pies, breads, cookies and cinnamon rolls to bring to the market. Today she had just finished baking and wrapping cinnamon rolls, the kitchen smelled wonderful. Donna was mixing up key lime bread while we talked and popped it in the oven. I will have to buy some on Saturday since I do love key lime anything. Donna plans to make elderberry jam once the plants start to produce. Lost Creek farm is at the market every Saturday in the 1st pavilion located on the south side of the market, stalls 9-10-11.
After leaving King City I headed back towards Saint Joe to Wathena Kansas. I had visited Goode Acres earlier in the spring but with all the rain we had things were not really doing very well. John was not home but his wife Stephanie showed me around. Goode acres is very hilly, as is most of the Wathena area, the ground was trenched were the heavy rain ran off the fields. Even with the rain things were looking pretty good. Stephanie has been picking blackberries every day and the red raspberries should be ready soon. John grows a lot of peppers in various varieties, he will be bringing a pepper roaster to the Saturday market in the next few weeks. Customers purchase peppers which are then roasted, put in a bag and taken home, the smell in the market is wonderful. In addition to peppers they are currently harvesting onions, eggplants, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, rosemary and basil. John Goode is at the Market every Saturday in stalls 6-8 on the south side of the Market.
My last stop for the day is also in Wathena, Kansas. Jarred Juhl has been a vendor at the City Market since 2004 and also sells at the Overland Park farmers market. Jarred will start selling at the City Market this week; he is very late starting because of all the rain. The plants just were not producing produce as fast as they should. Jarred’s farm is spread all over so I did a lot of off-roading today. We road through some of the fields in a four wheeler checking out the corn, tomatoes, melons and the list just goes on and on. Jarred is even experimenting with growing cotton to sell as an ornamental, very cool! Today I was very glad the City Market has a truck with four -wheel drive since I had to use it a couple times before we made it through all the fields. Before I headed back to KC I got to meet Jarred’s wonderful family which was a great way to end the day. Juhl Truck Farm is located in the 3rd pavilion on the north side of the Market in stalls 138-140 on Saturdays. He hopes to start back at the Market on Sundays very soon, stalls 22 and 23.
Next week I have a very busy day planned. The City Market is hosting the 2016 National Association of Produce Market Managers (NAPMM) conference in April. This conference includes farm tours so we will be visiting farms that will probably be part of this tour. It should be a fun day.