Sunday, August 23, 2015

I had to catch up on a few things in the office today so got a late start. I have four farms I want to get to but I am pretty sure that won’t happen if I want to get back to KC before dark.

I always watch the weather when I visit Kaying Lor and Cher Chee Yang in Pleasant Hill, MO. Their farm is next to a creek which has a tendency to come over the banks when there is a heavy rain and the road can flood quickly. There have been years when I have had to turn around and come back another day. No one was there when I arrived so I slipped on my boots and walked through the fields. Their flowers were beautiful especially with the fields as their backdrop. Kaying sells beautiful cut flower arrangements at the Market. In addition to flowers they are also growing Water spinach, Thai peppers, long beans, rice, eggplant, okra and purple hull peas.  You will find Kaying and Cher Chee at the Market on Saturdays in the middle farmers shed and Sundays in the shed on the south side of the market.

I decided to keep heading north to Leeton, Missouri. Jeanette Neal has been wondering where I have been this year; I usually visit their farm much earlier in the summer. Jeanette, Don and their son Jeremiah handle the farming and Jeremiahs wife bakes all the bakery items they bring to the Market. She was busy baking cookies when I arrived. Usually when I visit the Neal’s are still farming some acreage they have a few miles from their home. This has been a rough year so they have finish digging onions and the field is done for this season. Closer to their home they are still harvesting cucumbers, eggplant, assorted peppers, okra, tomatoes and assorted squash. Jeanette also has some very beautiful aloe plants they will bring to the market as long as the weather stays warm.  In the next few days they plan to plant spinach, carrots, kale and basil in the high tunnel where they are currently growing cucumbers. Bristle Ridge Farm is at the City Market every Saturday stalls 112-115 and Sundays stalls 57-59.  You can follow them on Face Book.

Next week I am taking the week off from visiting farms but I will be back at it the following week.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I have a couple of new farms to visit today which are not too far from Frye Farm and Freshmater Farm in Buckner so I thought I would start there. Mark Frye has been a vendor at the Market for at least 14 years and his father Marlin started selling at the City Market in 2006. In addition to selling at the City Market Marlin and his wife and daughter run a roadside stand on Sibley Road north of Buckner. They have already started growing mums for the fall which will be here before we know it. I walked through the fields behind their business and it was obvious the creek has come over its banks a couple times this year. There first crop of tomatoes was clearly done producing but their second planting was thick with green tomatoes. They also have a high tunnel a neighbor down the road lets them use which was full of tomatoes. In addition to growing tomatoes, they are harvesting eggplant, green peppers, cantaloupe and watermelon. The Frye’s are in the Farmer w/ Local Supplement category so are allowed to supplement no more than 50% of what they bring to the market each day. The supplemented product must be harvested within the markets 500 mile radius. The Frye’s supplement peaches and a few other items from Beckners Orchard near Lexington, MO. They also bring produce from their son/brothers farm located a few miles away. Mark Frye is at the City Market every Saturday in stalls 27-28 and Marlin Frye is at the Market on Saturday’s stalls 129-131 and most Sundays.

My next stop is only a few miles down the road in Sibley, Missouri. Amanda Hall was just headed out to their family’s farm to pick watermelons, perfect timing since I would have never known to drive so far out in the fields. Amanda's family farm approximately 60 acres of produce which they sell at area farmers markets and to grocery stores. Needless to say they were growing a lot of corn, tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelons, onions, potatoes and egg plant. Amanda will be selling at the Sunday Farmers Market later this month.

Of the Earth Farm Distillery will be my last stop for the day. You might have heard, on the local news that City Market will now be allowed to have vendors who make locally produced wine, malt beverages and distilled spirits. Jim Pearce will be the first vendor to sell whisky and brandy which is mad in his distillery from fruits which are grown on his farm. I must admit I have never visited a distillery. After much research and lots of inspections and permits Jim produced his first bottle of Eau de Vie in December of 2013. Since that time he has added a few new selections, visit for more information on the farm and how he became interested in opening a distillery. In addition to selling spirits Jim will also sell Asian pears and apples which are harvested in the family’s 7 acre orchard. Jim currently grows 26 varieties of apples and 2 varieties of Asian pears. After walking through the orchard and distillery I got to meet Jim’s heard of sheep, his lama, which is more of a watch dog over the heard and the pigs. Jim will also be selling lamb and pork at the Market. This was a very interesting farm visit, if all goes well with Jim's final permits he should be selling his products at the market within the next week or so.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Today was a really fun day visiting a wide range of vendors. The City Market is hosting the 2016 National Association of Produce Market Managers (NAPMM) conference in April. Members attending the conference will travel to various farms in the area; today was spent visiting farms we thought would be a nice experience for the attendees. Justin Cottrell and Deb Churchill are part of the planning committee for the conference so went along. Justin is one of the owners of KC Commercial Reality group that manages the City Market and Deb Churchill is the Property Manager for the City Market.

Our first stop was Juniper Gardens in Kansas City, KS which I visited a few weeks ago. New Roots for Refuges has a wonderful story and does so much for families trying to make a living in this country.  Three families in their program sell at the Sunday Farmers’ Market.

We had an appointment to take a tour of Shatto Milk Co.; I have not done this for a few years so I was really looking forward to it. Shatto has really grown over the years and has a wonderful operation. Everyone on the tour gets to sample some of their very popular flavors of milk, milk a cow, see the milking area and where the milk is bottled. It is very interesting and something anyone would enjoy.

Next stop was Windy Ridge Greenhouse in Plattsburg Missouri. The Hanks have a very nice location where customers can come to their farm and by bedding plants. Right now the greenhouses are empty but come April they are a sight to see. In addition to bedding plants the Hanks have a greenhouse for growing tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. They also grow row crops which is quite the challenge this year with all the rain they have had in that area.

Stop four for the day is Vantill Family Farm Winery. Cliff and his family have a wonderful winery, event space and an outdoor eating area where they bake stone fire pizzas. This would be a great option for a lunch stop on the tour. Of course we had to sample a little wine before we left.

Our last stop for the day is at Birds Botanicals located in one of the caves off 435 in Kansas City. David Bird has been a vendor at the market for at least 15 years and is the expert on orchids and carnivorous plants. There is so much to see and admire when visiting Birds Botanicals and the pictures just do not do it justice. I am sure this location will be a hit on the tour.

Next week I need to really get some farms checked, I am running a little behind. WE have had so many new Sunday vendors apply this year that checking their farms and the Market’s contracted vendors farms have kept me really busy. But what a great way to spend the day!