Friday, August 26, 2016

Last Thursday was a beautiful day to drive to Saint Joe Missouri and Wathena Kansas. It has been a year since I've visited John Goods Farm, Goody Acres. I'm anxious to see how many different kinds of peppers John is growing this year. Goody Acres is located in the first Pavilion in stalls 7 – 9, he is the only vendor at the market that actually brings a pepper roaster in each week. You always know when John is roasting peppers you can smell them all over the market, the smell is AWSOME. I am sure I missed a few varieties of peppers as we walked through the fields but I know John was growing Anaheims, poblano peppers, habanero peppers, banana peppers, green peppers, purple bell peppers and a variety I've never heard of before pasillabajio peppers. John told me this variety has a little smoky taste. John still had quite a few heirloom tomatoes growing in his greenhouse; he picked a few as we walk through. They just dug potatoes earlier this week and hope to finish up on Friday. John’s late squash is also starting to come on really good, he has acorn, zucchini and butternut squash. The eggplant looks beautiful and is really starting to come on with all this heat and the dry spell. On the lower terraced area, which once housed a greenhouse, John is now growing watermelon and cantaloupe. John is getting ready to plow under the cabbage and broccoli which is done and replant turnips, beets and celery for the fall. Whenever I am at John's I need to make a point and stop by and look at the sheep, John raises Katadyn sheep which are a short haired variety which do not require sheering.   I also make it a point to see Rocket who is the male sheep or I guess it would be called a ram. Rocket it is always kept in a separate pen for obvious reasons. You will find John at the City Market every Saturday March through October. 

My next stop was only about 15 minutes from Wathena; it's in Saint Joe on Highway 169.  Nature's Choice owned and operated by Fred and Helen Messner has just wrapped up their u-pick blackberry patch. Fred started raising berries a few years ago and things have really taken off. I was hoping to visit before the blackberries were done for the season but just didn't make it. I caught Fred at a bad time; he was just sitting down to eat lunch so I just showed myself around. Tomatoes and green beans were about all that was left in the fields, at least that I could see.  They also have a few herbs in their greenhouse that they will be bringing to the market. Fred and Helen start coming to the Market early in the spring with vegetable plants and beautiful lilies on both Saturday and Sunday. Natures Choice is a biodynamic farm which means in addition to organic practices such as crop rotation and composting, biodynamic farmers rely on special plants, animal and mineral preparations and the rhythmic influences of the sun, moon, planets and stars. You will find Natures Choice in the first farmer pavilion in stalls 12-14 on Saturdays only this time of year.

My last stop on Thursday, August 18th was in Kansas City, Kansas at the farm of Chiong Vang. The Hmong Vaj Farm is located off of I-70 and 78th Street they have been farming in this location for quite a few years. Chiong’s father met me when I pulled in; since I knew he had been working in the fields all morning and it was super hot I told him I would walk through the fields by myself. Some crops were obviously done for the year, others were thriving and some sections were being readied to replant. The key to having produce all season is to constantly be rotating crops. As I walked from row to row I saw various varieties of eggplant, kale, okra, peppers, long beans and beautiful zinnias, huge sunflowers, gladiolas, cosmos and cockscomb. I love walking through all the rows of flowers! Hmong Vaj Farm is at the market every Saturday in pavilion two and three and Sunday in pavilion two.

I had a really neat vendor to check today. Tyler Kimball with Monarch Glass Studio makes beautiful unique blown glass items. Tyler has been studying his craft for the last 17 years and opened his own studio about a year ago, so his business is fairly new. I was really impressed when Tyler told me he built or rebuilt all of his equipment used to make these beautiful works of art. Unfortunately he fires up the equipment on Mondays so I missed seeing him in action but he promised to send me some photos. The pictures I took will not do the pieces justice so you might want to visit him in person or visit Tyler’s web site. I loved the unique lighting fixtures, these can be special ordered and each piece is unique. Monarch Glass Studio will be at the Market on Sundays in October selling blown glass pumpkins. 

Since the weather was looking a little dicey I thought I would visit another vendor that was located inside so I stopped at Yappy Hour which is located in Gladstone Missouri. Nicole Duvall and Curtis Kelly own Yappy Hour which is a pet resort, so it makes perfect sense that they make nutritional gourmet dog treats which they sell at the City Market on Saturdays and Sundays. Their dog treats look so much like cookies that I have witnessed more than one customer trying to purchase them for a snack. As I entered the building I was greeted with a very loud welcome from all the resort guest and found Nicole busy putting the final touches on this week’s treats. For additional information visit their web site at

Thank goodness the rain stopped for a little while and I was able to stop by Vang Farm which is located in Kansas City, Kansas on Parallel Parkway. I always love visiting the Vang’s Farm it reminds me of a big patchwork quilt. The farm is located in a valley behind their home. Weeds have taken over part of the field but you can still see the zinnias popping up above the weeds. As I walk down the winding path I walk by long green beans, eggplant, Thai peppers, water spinach and the list goes on and on. You will find the Vang family at the City Market every Saturday and Sunday.   As I neared the truck the sky opened up once again so I decided to call it a day. 

Next week I am heading south to touch base with a few vendors near Fort Scott, Kansas unless the rain continues and the roads are washed out.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

On Thursday, August 11th my plan was to visit two farms and one craft vendor. Both Farms were located east of Kansas City along I-70, these farms are located the farthest east of any vendors that vends at the City Market. 

Rhonda Borgmeyer’s farm is located in Bonnets Mill which is located just east of Jefferson City about 45 minutes from Colombia. This is a beautiful area with lots of rolling hills. Rhonda met me outside one of their two greenhouses as I pulled in. The first greenhouse still had a few ripe tomatoes and green tomatoes although the plants were looking pretty sad; the extreme heat has really taken its toll on them. Rhonda took me to the barn where they usually have three tanks of tilapia. Last month they had a little catastrophe with the fish and most of the fish died due to lack of oxygen when the pumps went down. They were able to save approximately 80 fish which were cleaned and frozen immediately. Rhonda’s son Jesse started cleaning all of the tanks and plans to start over. Before I arrived they harvested onions which were now piled in a wagon drying.  Last week Alan plowed under all the other crops and they have started to replant for fall.   I don't anticipate the Borgmeyer’s vending at the market for a while until their crops have time to come in and they can start harvesting. As with many vendors this time of year the summer just takes a toll and they need to regroup and restart so there's sometimes a little lull depending on where they live and the weather.

My next stop is about an hour north of Jefferson City in Moberly, Missouri. Dan and Joanna Nelson, DanJo Farms, have been vendors at the Market since 2013. The Nelsons had a tornado go through their property about three weeks ago, they're really lucky that it didn't take their house and all of their outbuildings. The damage was obvious as I drove down their drive there were downed trees and piles of brush everywhere.  The tornado blew out the back of his barn and tore shingles off of his house. Luckily that was the extent of the damage to his home and the attached garage where their licensed kitchen is.  Most of his livestock was safe; Dan thinks he might have lost a couple of chickens. Dan raises sheep, pigs and chickens which he has processed in a USDA plant and also sells chicken and duck eggs.  The storm tore off the plastic on his greenhouses and most of the plants have since died due to the lack of protection and the heat. DanJoe Farms is in the supplement category which means they can supplement 50% of the items they bring to the market. This will allow them to continue coming to the market this summer supplementing fresh local produce from neighbors or one of the four produce auctions in his area. DanJo Farms is at the Market every Saturday year round in the middle pavilion, stalls 78 and 79.

My last stop for the day was in Gladstone, Missouri. I visited a new arts and crafts vendor that will be starting at the market this coming Sunday. Caesars Palace it's fairly new at his craft, which makes the City Market the perfect location for him to get started. Caesars makes very unique coat racks out of glass bottles, hanging candle holders and a unique collection of drinking glasses. The glasses are made out of wine bottles and other various bottles which all are different sizes and weights. Caesars demonstrated how he cuts the bottles and heats them to have a clean break, he then sands the edges smooth. I think he will be a nice addition to the Sunday farmers market. 

I'm not sure where my journey will take me next week but I'm sure I will be out on the road, it's already mid August and I still have a lot of farms to visit.