Friday, March 31, 2017

It was way to wet to visit any farms this week especially since farm visits mean driving on some kind of dirt road and walking through a lot of muddy fields. I know we really needed the rain especially if we want an abundance of produce this year but I would really like to see the sun.

I opted to stay in Kansas City and visit Dorothy Bragg who has been vending at the City Market since 2015. Dorothy has recently relocated to her family’s home which made it possible to have the entire upstairs dedicated to her crafting/sewing area. I found Dorothy busy getting special orders made to bring to the Market for pick-up this weekend. Dorothy makes her own tea towels and aprons which she will embroider especially for that special someone, remember Mothers Day is just around the corner. 

Her specialty is little girl’s dresses featuring all their favorite characters. Dorothy has been working really hard to make a variety of sizes for KC’s little Royals Fans; the dresses are so cute and even include a little pair of matching shorts to wear underneath. You will find “Dottie” at the Market most Saturdays and Sundays year round. For more information visit her web site at

If you feel the need to get out of the house come by the City Market tomorrow, I am pretty sure it is going to be dry and maybe a little sunny. We are at the point where we will see more and more farmer market vendors each week. We have four greenhouses coming in tomorrow, a magnolia tree expert, Cut tulip bouquets, fresh Missouri greenhouse tomatoes, grass fed beef, wine, spirits, lettuces, spinach, radishes, fresh ginger, baked goods, jams and jellies, honey, salsa, fire wood, hand crafted items and the list just goes on and on. The farmers' market is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. If the parking causes you stress try the street car, it will drop you
off at the entrance and exit to the City Market.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sarah and I headed to Topeka, Kansas to visit a new Artist Crafter vendor today. We visit all the new vendors who sell at the market to verify that they do make the items they plan to sell. I have had various conversations with Charles DeCesaris over the last couple months so am anxious to get a chance to meet him. Charles is only part of the Cutting Board Authority he also works with his son Bernie DeCesaris. They actually live next to each other so share their garage space. As you can tell by their name they specialize in making hand crafted cutting boards. We met them in their shop and found them hard at work. The cutting boards are just beautiful and are made to last a lifetime. They use a wide variety of hard woods for each board, each with its unique natural color, no stain used here! They glue the boards together with FDA approved glue and clamp them till dry, and then the magic happens. Charles told me each board comes with a card explaining how to care for your cutting board; they even make their own wax which they sell to keep the board conditioned. It was obvious after seeing their work that both had some kind of building background, it turns out that Charles and Bernie are from a long line of master craftsman. They plan on attending the Market on Sundays this year and hope to start soon. In addition to selling at the City Market they also sell their products on Etsy, visit them on Facebook or their website at

We plan to work our way back to Kansas City and have three more vendor to visit on the way back. Jeff Stanley started selling his tye dyed clothing at the market in 2008 and has been a Saturday and Sunday regular at the Market ever since.  Jeff has been creating tye dyed clothing for 23 years and dyes everything from hats, shirts, sox and tapestries, no two items are ever alike. I never realized how many steps go into creating a tye dyed t-shirt and how complicated some of the designs are. Christine does all of the intricate folding and stitching and Jeff does the dying, they have quite the system down. Jeff uses only the best dyes to ensure that the color in his clothing stays vivid for many years. Cosmic Dyes will be at the Market this weekend at the east end of the first pavilion. If you would like to know more about Cosmic Dyes visit their web site at

Our next stop is in Olathe, Kansas at J & D Glassworks. Jeff and Debbie Belzer have been making beautiful stained glass for at least 20 years. They also teach classes in their home and restore and clean stained glass. When the Belzer’s are at the Market they also sell stained glass sun catchers, glass jewelry and flattened bottles which can be used as cheese trays, soap dishes or wall hangings, the options are endless. Needless to say they are always on the lookout for unique bottle to put in their kiln. J & D Glassworks will be starting back at the Market very soon; you will find them at the Market on both Saturday and Sundays. Their web site lists the classes they have available and more information on the types of items they make.

One more stop in Merriam, Kansas and we called it a day. Theresa Liu met us at her studio, at the market Theresa is known as the dried flower artist. Theresa has spent much of her life collecting flowers, twigs, bark and berries and giving them a new life. She is a true artist who painstakingly looks at a dried up flower and sees how it can once again be vibrant and part of a beautiful dried flower arrangement. Her workshop is full of assorted flowers she has trimmed, dyed and straitened over the years so as an idea for an arrangement comes to her she has everything she needs. When she runs out of a specific flower she usually has to wait for the next season when they bloom again. I think my favorite flower that she restores is the hydrangea and the celosia, they look amazing. Theresa will not be at the Market till late April or May on Saturdays or when she has enough arrangements to bring.

I am taking a week off from farm and crafter visits next week so I can take a moment to regroup before the farmers market gets any busier. The weather forecast is beautiful for this weekend so we will have vendors in the first and third pavilion, approximately 30 vendors. We are seeing green house bell peppers, lettuce, kale, tomatoes and green onions starting to come in. We are also seeing a few of our bakery vendors, vendors selling value added food products such as salsa and artist crafter vendors returning this week. We also have quite a few Vintage Sale vendors setting up on Saturday and Sunday, it should be a great weekend at the Market.

I took a little time off last week so we plan to do back to back vendor visits this week. I was hoping it would have been a little warmer since we are visiting farms all day on Wednesday, I will just have to bundle up a little. Since we have very little crops to check this time of year we are focusing on Greenhouses, vendors with animals and artist crafter vendors.

It has been awhile since I visited Peter and Susan Kohl; they raise buffalo in Belton, Missouri and have been vendors at the City Market since 2003. I can tell you the cold did not seem to faze the buffalo, they looked very content. The Kohl’s raise 300 head of buffalo which they have processed in a USDA meat processing plant and in addition to selling their product at the Market they also have a small store on their property where customers can purchase products right from their farm. KC Buffalo provides a wide variety of individual cuts of meat or you could order a side, split side, 40# variety pack or 20# variety pack. I am hooked on their Summer Sausage and jerky but have also tried a roast which I cooked in a Crockpot, it was very good and a great alternative to beef. Peter is at the City Market every Saturday year round, April through October located in stall 87 in the middle pavilion. KC Buffalo accepts cash and the City Market $5.00 debit tokens which can be purchased at the SNAP tent during Market hours. For additional information visit their web site at

I always look forward to visiting greenhouses in the spring since they are warm and usually bursting with flours. This year I am trying to get a head start and got to Enright Gardens located in Edgerton, Kansas as they were just getting started. Sue Enright has been selling at the Market since she was a child with her family and even met her husband Steve here. The Enright’s started their business in 1979 and currently have 15 greenhouses on their property; one of these will be planted with tomatoes very soon. The advantage of visiting a little early we were able to walk though the greenhouses with Sue and Steve and see all their fantastic gadgets. Since it was spring break they were able to have a lot of extra help getting the seeds started and transplanting small plants into pots. They have a new machine that is able to put each tiny seed into compartments on the trays which saves a lot of time. They also have added heated beds which help to keep the trays and seeds warm so they are able to grow a little quicker without having to keep the greenhouse so warm. Steve demonstrated the machine that fills the hanging baskets with potting soil and another that fills all the trays. This is a huge time saver since they fill 4,000 hanging baskets and a crazy number of trays. In addition to running the greenhouse, which is open to the public, they also have a rental facility on their property for hosting weddings, it is beautiful. Enright Gardens should start back at the Market in mid to late April if the weather is warm enough and are located at the east end of the middle pavilion in stalls 47-50. For additional information visit their web site at

We had planned on stopping by The Flower Farm in Gardner, Kansas but found out they were not open yet so decided to wait a couple weeks. We opted to drive to Drexel, Missouri to visit a new greenhouse that David Bird purchased last year. David is known as the orchid and carnivorous plant guy at the Market but has expanded to this greenhouse where he can grow some edible plants, succulents and a few unique varieties. David is always experimenting with new things and always thinks outside of the box. David made sure he was at the greenhouse when we arrived so he could show us each new plant; I have already started my shopping list when he starts back at the Market. David has added new items that are perfect for customers who live in the neighborhood who have very little outside space for growing their own food. Birds Botanicals will feature a different type of plant each week so you will want to make sure and stop by his stalls each week to see what new and wonderful things he has. You will find Bird’s Botanicals at the Market every Saturday stalls 22-23 and Sundays in stalls 124-125. If you have not had a chance to visit the caves where he grows the most amazing orchids and carnivorous plants you will want to make plans to do so. For more information visit his website at or befriend them on facebook.

Tomorrow we are heading out bright and early and heading to Topeka, Kansas. The weather looks like the perfect day for a road trip.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

I can’t believe it is March 1st already; the Market will be filling up fast if this warm weather keeps up. I now have a co-pilot with me on the days I am visiting farms and crafters workshops. Sarah Adams started working at the City Market in July of last year and is the Assistant Farmers Market Manager. It will be nice to have someone to visit with when I am on the road for eight hours.

This week we started the day by visiting the Central Missouri Produce Action in Fortuna, Missouri. Missouri has eight such produce auctions, that I know of spread around the state. Our goal is to visit each one this summer. The Central Missouri Produce Auction is a corporation owned by shareholders made up of mostly farmers. This week the items being auctioned off were mainly vegetable and bedding plants which are grown within a 100 mile radius of the auction. Each seller has a number which coincides with his products. When shopping at the City Market Farmers’ Market you will notice that each of our vendors have a large sign posted in their stall which tells the name of their farm/business, where there from and what category they are in. Many of the vendors who sell in the Farmer with Local Supplement category get their supplemented produce from these auctions. Farmers in this category must grow 50% of the produce they bring to the Market each day but can supplement no more than 50% of their products from an auction or a farm located within 500 miles of the City Market. Vendors in this category are required by the City Market to post the name of the farm and the town where the supplemented items have been harvested. We spent about 45 minutes sitting and listening to the auctioneer, it was very interesting to see.

Our main focus today was to visit at least three greenhouses which grow bedding plants, hanging baskets, vegetable plants and tomatoes. Just a short time after leaving the auction we arrived in Versailles where we have two vendors who sell at the Market. We stopped at Daryl Unruh’s farm first only to discover he had added another greenhouse, he now has three. Daryl and his family were busy planting the flower starts into pots and hanging baskets. They start these plants with seeds, plugs and un-rooted cuttings. In a few weeks there greenhouse will be filled to the brim with beautiful hanging baskets, container plantings, annuals, perennials and vegetable plants. The Unruh’s recently expanded their line of succulents which are very popular right now. The Busy Bee, which is the name of their business, has been in operation since 1997 with the help of his wife Diane and their four children. The Busy Bee will have one space at the market on the 4th and if weather permits will expand to four Saturday stalls in the very near future located in pavilion two stalls 60-63.

Just a short jaunt through Versailles and we arrive at Highway 52 Greenhouse or the Green Thumb as it is sometimes known. Chris Pifer has taken on a huge endeavor this year and constructed a ¾ acre greenhouse filled with 6,000 tomato plants. I must say this is something to see and I was very impressed. It took Chris and one part time person 100 hours to fill all 6,000 bags of organic compose which he purchases from Blue Bird Organic Compose Company if Fulton, MO. All of his tomato plants are grown in these bags. The greenhouse environment is very controlled to maintain the right temperature and air flow to ensure the plants stay healthy. To ward off disease Chris let loose predator bugs to eat the bad insect and has boxes of bees placed around the greenhouse to pollinate all the plants. The pictures we took cannot even begin to show how impressive this it. Most of the tomatoes are a beefsteak variety but Chris also planted a couple rows of Heirloom tomatoes as an experiment, they are yielding way more tomatoes the Chris ever expected. I was already to purchase some tomatoes for a BLT but sadly they will not be ready for a couple more weeks. 

In addition to tomatoes, Chris’s mother Nancy has three greenhouses where she starts all of her hanging baskets and containers from cuttings in December which explains why the plants in their baskets are so huge. Nancy has a knack for combining a very unique mix of plants in her baskets; she told me she wakes up in the morning thinking about plants and how to combine them. Starting plants from cuttings take a great deal of time and patients but I think the results are well worth it. Highway 52 Greenhouse is located in the 3rd farmer pavilion on Saturdays in stall 110 and in the 1st pavilion on Sundays in stall 7-8.

Our last stop for the day is a little closer to home in Buckner, Missouri. Marlin and Mark Frye sell in the Farmer with Supplement Category and usually supplement tomatoes and peaches grown within the markets 500 mile radius. Today we are checking part of what they will be growing to bring to Market. We found Marlin in one of their two greenhouses where they have started transplanting vegetable and bedding plants grown from seeds and plugs. They had about 200 hanging baskets planted which should be ready to bring to the market in early May. We saw stack after stack of bagged potting soil and Marlin told us he was expecting a delivery of pots any day. Frye Farms is located in the third pavilion in stalls 129 and 130. Mark Frye, Marlins son, is located in pavilion one in stalls 27-29.

I will be taking a little time off next week before the Market gets too busy but Sarah and I will be heading out again on March 15th and 16th. Were planning to travel to Topeka, Lawrence, Edgerton and Gardner for now but I am sure we will add a few more locations before we take off.