Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What's here in the Winter?

Sarah here! With winter and the holidays bounding towards us, people often forget the farmers' market is still going on all winter! From November to March we pull the garage doors down on the north and south pavilions and lightly heat the interior to keep some of that winter chill out.

"What is there at the market in the winter?" confused faces often say when Deb and I tell them we're still open.

Right now there's still some lingering produce that the farmers have kept in coolers to stretch their season just a few more weeks. We also have several farmers with hoop houses, high tunnels, or greenhouses which allow them to fend off frost just a bit longer.

While this photo is from back in June, it shows one of our farmer's high tunnel. The side vents are able to go up and down to allow air flow and help control the temperature a bit. I am sure those side vents are definitely up right now to keep the cold air out!

Most fall crops will last several months if stored properly. I recently bought my winter's supply of sweet potatoes which I nestled in clean old towels in boxes after I made sure they were cured. These should last me all the way into February or March depending on how hungry my family gets this winter!

The most important part for winter storage is curing, which typically requires a little under 2 weeks of warmer temperatures with good air circulation. (Exceptions to this are root veggies like carrots and beets, which you can store in your fridge!)

If you have a favorite fall crop, search the internet for some guides on how to store them properly! You can also check out the Missouri Extension Office's Seasonal and Simple App for some guides on storage and find out what you might be able to find at the market!

While it is true there is produce, all of the farmers with bakeries, meat, honey, eggs, and other fantastic individuals are still at the market each weekend and waiting to see your smiling faces! Be sure to stop by the City Market this winter!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

I have been holding off going to Lost Creek Farm until Sarah could go with me; Sarah Chorney is the Assistant Farmers Market Manager for the City Market. Darrel has given his farm a total makeover; he is looking towards the future for sure. In the past Darrel grew mainly vegetables, in his search to simplify and grow something that takes a little less work Darrel decided to grow elderberries.

Elderberries are small, dark berries that grow in clusters on elder trees, also called elderberry bushes, and are very common throughout Europe and North America.  Elderberries are used to make wine, pies, cobblers, extracts, juice, jams, jellies and syrups. In the spring, you can use the white elderflowers to make jellies, teas or stir them into muffins to add a nice sweet flavor.   Elderberries are high in vitamin C, potassium, betta-carotene and calcium. I never knew anything about elderberries but will certainly give them a try.

Darrel has put in 11,000 plants (that is right 11,000) and we found him busy snipping off flowers and berries from the newer plants to ensure they develop a good root system. In the spring, each bush produces the Elderflower, which then produces the berries. Each cluster of berries s removed and put into bins. Darrel has a great system set up for washing the berries and purchased a destemming machine which saves them a great deal of time. Once the berries are washed and destemmed, they are put into large bags and frozen.  Some of the frozen berries are then sold to a processor who makes elderberry juice.

Darrel has not given up totally on growing vegetables; he still has a few smaller plots where he grows  squash, okra, peas, tomatoes, beans and cabbage.

In addition to the farm, they have a metal pole barn that contains their licensed kitchen. Donna was busy baking sweet breads to bring to the market on Saturday, and had just finished baking cookies and brownies. I am sure we will see the addition of elderberry products in their stall next year, I cannot wait.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Hmong Vaj Farms is located in Kansas City, Kansas just off I- 70. They have been farming this property since 2011 and take advantage of every inch. Over the years, they have added more cut flowers and some peach trees, which started to produce a little more this year. Many of the items they grow are finished for the year since it is late in the summer. Can you believe it is the first day of fall? 

 As I walked through their fields, I could see that they had recently replanted items for the fall since they continue to come to the market into November if we do not have a heavy frost before then. There was an abundance of eggplant, okra, peppers, squash and long beans and a variety of flowers. You will see greenhouse tomatoes, watermelon and pumpkins in Chiong’s stalls on the weekends, these are grown locally and are purchased at the Central Missouri Produce Auction in Versailles, MO or the 4 County Produce Auction in Windsor, MO. Hmong Vaj Farms is contracted for four stalls at the Saturday and Sunday farmers market.  Two of these stalls, each day, are in the markets supplement category which means beside the produce they grow they can supplement up to 50% of the produce sold in that stall as long as it was harvested within a 500 miles of the City Market. You will find Hmong Vaj Farms located in stalls 90, 91,108 and109 on Saturdays and stalls 70, 71, 90 and 91 on Sundays. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

I was so happy the temperature was a little cool and the wind was blowing the day I visited Randy Tillery at his farm in Bonner Springs, Kansas. The last time I stopped by his farm, the mosquitoes were awful. I don’t know how they stand working with the constant buzzing. It made it very hard to focus and I spent most of my time swatting them. This visit was much more enjoyable and I left without one single bite. 

 Randy was a little apologetic about the amount of weeds in his fields but this is normal this time of year especially with all the rain we have had. I might have had to look a little closer but his produce looked nice, especially the peppers, okra and watermelons. Randy started bringing sweet potatoes to the Market last week, in October I always try to stock up for the holidays. As long as I don’t wash them and keep them in a cool dry place they are perfect for my Thanksgiving dinner. He also grows little cabbages, which are wonderful when added to fried potatoes, onions and sausage. I always add the cabbage towards the very end; you have to love a one-skillet meal. You will find Tillery Farms at the Market on Saturday’s mid-June to November in stalls 46 & 47 and most Sundays in the same location.