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Happy days are here again where fresh local food is concerned in Lawrence

April 21st, 2010 · Community supported agriculture, Farmers markets, local food

My spring is now complete. Not only is the Lawrence Farmers Market open on Saturdays for the season, but this week marked the early season start for the Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance.

Rolling Prairie opening day 2010

Bob Lominska presides over RPFA’s first early-season delivery.

Rolling Prairie

Rolling Prairie’s  first delivery far exceeded my hopes, considering what a cool wet spring we’ve had, this past week excepted. I brought home asparagus, green onions, spinach, salad mix, lettuce and cilantro (working from memory here). They were gorgeous specimens.  There were some tough choices, though, such as choosing among asparagus, mushrooms and eggs.

The delivery table was in a more cramped arrangement than in the past. Worked OK while I was there, but I picked my goods up during a slow period. It will see whether the new arrangement, intended to use less space for the Merc, will survive when the full delivery season begins in two weeks. Only 65 or so people get the early season delivery.

I believe there are a few spots left for 2010 for Rolling Prairie’s subscription-style CSA. An application including site coordinator information is available ( PDF). Below you can see a few stalks of the gorgeous—and tender to the end of the very long stalks—asparagus I got.


Farmers markets

Blessed by more good weather, the Lawrence Farmers Market had 43 vendors at Saturday’s market. Customers and merchants alike were in high spirits. The market will have its grand opening on May 1 , which not only is the official high-season kickoff but also signals the opening of the weekday markets the first week of May. Can’t wait!

Meanwhile, 40 miles or so east of Lawrence, farmers markets are opening in the Kansas City area too. Read about them at Fat City.

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Farmers market off to auspicious start

April 12th, 2010 · Farmers markets


We could hardly have hoped for better weather Saturday to kick off the 2010 Lawrence Farmers Market early season. The day was sunny, almost 50 degrees with a light breeze when the market opened at 7 a.m., and by closing time at 11, the temp was in the lower 70s.

Besides being the most pleasant opening day in memory for longtime vendors, I’d bet it also was the best attended, both in terms of customers and vendors. Although, as usual, many stalls were empty for the early season opening, I’d guess there were at least two dozen vendors selling a remarkable variety of goods.


If you weren’t there, head on down Saturday for bedding plants, prepared foods and, yes, fresh produce. Hail to spring! And thanks to our farmers’ being made of sturdier stuff than I am!

Addendum: The Topeka market opened Saturday too. Here’s information, in case you are interested, from the Topeka Capital-Journal.

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Roundup: Garden tour and other April fun

April 7th, 2010 · local food, Roundup

The Lawrence Sustainability Network’s gardening group, SLUG (support for local urban gardeners) is planning a tour in June of Lawrence food gardens, and the group hopes to include more gardens than the 12 featured in last year’s inaugural event. If you didn’t get the notice and have a garden that you think others could learn from, contact the group: SLUG dot LSN at gmail dot com.

The bad news is that Kansas has had among the highest rates of food-borne illness reported in the country. The good news that the high rate is because Kansas does such a good job finding and reporting such illnesses, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

You can read a review (more of a description, really) of Lawrence’s latest restaurant, Esquina, at the KC Star’s Ink site. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard good reports from people who have.

Kansas City, Mo., public radio station KCUR has received a grant to cover agribusiness. The grant will allow the hiring of six people to help cover farming practices, food and fuel production and their impact on the economy, jobs, and environment, according to KCUR. We’ll hope and trust that means looking deeper than the latest press release from Cargill and Monsanto.

It’s after the fact, but I got a big enough kick out of the April fool news that China is buying Kansas, that I thought I’d share the link to the post by Chris Clayton on the Progressive Farmer.

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Lawrence Farmers Market opens Saturday

April 5th, 2010 · Farmers markets

Lawrence KS Farmers Market logoIt’s hard to believe, but the Lawrence Farmers Market opens this Saturday (April 10) for the 2010 season, and an interesting season it’s sure to be. Among the challenges and opportunities:

  • Weather is always a challenge. The enduring cold and damp winter means many farmers have little to sell as the season starts. The moisture has delayed planting, and the mostly cool temps and gray skies don’t encourage growth the way sunshine does. Mother Nature no doubt has other challenges in store for later in the season.
  • Three markets, three locations, two opening dates add up to one informational challenge and three marketing opportunities.

Pop quiz

  1. Where’s the Lawrence Farmers Market?
  2. What date does the market open?
  3. What are the hours?

If you answered “it depends,” for all three, you have a perfect score. (Details below.) That means the Lawrence Farmers Market operators need to do a bang-up job of informing the public. So far, we—the board, which includes me, and the market coordinator—haven’t done such a great job. Blame it on winter listlessness or on spending a lot of time planning for the long term (such as by incorporating and revising bylaws) if you will.

Fortunately, the Lawrence Journal-World is on top of it. It posted stories last week announcing the new market location on the west side, noting the decision to continue to allow pets at market, and, today, applauding the plan for a new west market.

chivesMost of the farmers I’ve talked to don’t have much fresh produce to sell—hardly a surprise given recent weather. In fact, many farmers are just now getting their crops in the ground. Still, I’m hoping to see lettuce and other early green things such as herbs (those are chives at right) plus eggs, meat, baked goods, pickles and jellies, and prepared foods.

The answers

And the answers to the quiz are…

1. The Lawrence Farmers Market is located at:

  • Downtown on Vermont, between 10th & 11th on Tuesdays
  • Downtown on New Hampshire, between 8th & 9th on Saturdays
  • West side, just off 6th Street west of Wakarusa on Thursdays

2. The market opens…this Saturday, April 10, for “early season” (Saturdays only), and May 1 for the official grand opening, which will include the weekday markets the following week, May 4 and May 6.

3. Hours are 7-11 a.m. Saturdays and 4-6 p.m. weekdays.

Hope to see you this Saturday. I’m going to count on good weather. Hope Mother Nature agrees.

About the blog

Yes, I reviving this dormant blog. I let it go quiet while I finished my book, Teach Yourself Visually WordPress, and then I guess I lost interest during the endlessly gray winter. But spring finally IS here, and my thoughts are going to good food again. No promises on posting, but I have a feeling you will be seeing more of me.

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Tomorrow is another day for farmers

December 9th, 2009 · Farmers markets, Growing food

This year is so last year, at least if you are a market farmer. That’s one of the insights I learned recently at my first Lawrence Farmers Market annual meeting.

This year, last year and next year

Lawrence KS Farmers Market logoDuring the gathering of 60 or so vendors and others last month, farmers repeatedly referred to 2009 as “last year.” That was a bit of a surprise for me, considering the market at that stage was going to be open three more Saturdays. That view, though, is a testimonial to the planning that is an inherent part of farming. Most people show up for their jobs and do what they do. Farmers have to decide what to do long before they do it.

In any event,  I was pleased to hear Tom Buller, the market coordinator, report that most vendors had reported better sales in 2009 than in 2008. Not hugely better, but better. That was good news after early scuttlebutt that there were plenty of shoppers but not so many sales—in addition to the fact that 2009 has heralded a surge in home food gardens, a development that’s good for people’s diets but not necessarily good for market farmers.

Farmers Market members have one more shot at making some hay this year: the annual Lawrence Farmers Market Holiday Market. It’s 8 a.m.-3 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 12, at the Knights of Columbus hall on East 23rd Street. Stop in and see the pickles, jams, woolens, baked goods and, unlike during the season, other handmade crafts.

West-Side Market?

Nothing is final (is anything?), but odds are that the market will have its Thursday weekday market next year in a west-side location off Sixth Street. Keep your fingers crossed that the stars align to allow it to happen. Buller has been doing a good job running the information down.

A west-side market would be a great opportunity for people who rarely get downtown to have another option for buying fresh, local produce from our market. Most vendors seemed excited by the prospect.

My season overview

8_full As a customer but nonfarmer tuned in to the challenges of growing things, I’d have to rate the season as a definite “pretty good.” Many growers are learning better to manage our fickle weather with season-extending tricks such as hoophouses, which means we had fine greens in spring and fall despite unusually cold and occasionally damp conditions.

Some summer crops were disappointing, though. After last year’s flood of fruit, the crops were more modest this year, and the strangely mild summer meant tomatoes just didn’t perform as they usually do in these parts. Peppers seemed less plentiful too.

Still, between the market and the Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance, with occasional supplements from Hilary’s Moon on the Meadow CSA and Lynn & Dan’s Wild Onion Farm, I had all the local produce I could eat. Happily, I’m still enjoying some of the goods, thanks to my freezer. My first pot of post-Thanksgiving turkey soup, for instance, featured the rutabaga I blanched last summer, and it was wonderful! And I say that as someone who isn’t crazy about turnips and rutabagas.

How about you?

Was the season a success on your farm, or for your farmers? It’s so last year for the farmers, even if many of us are still enjoying the bounty. I can hardly wait for “this” year.

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Digest: Order your local turkey for Thanksgiving now

November 9th, 2009 · local food, Roundup

Pastured white turkeys on Vesecky farm

Kansans have raised turkeys for a long time, says the K-State Research & Extension News. If you act now, you can get one of those birds for your Thanksgiving feast. Among producers within shouting distance of Lawrence are:

  • Clark Family Farm. They were taking orders on Saturday at the Lawrence Farmers Market for fresh pastured turkeys, which you can pick up at the Pendletons on Saturday before Thanksgiving, or they will deliver. Call to see if they have more: Fred & Margaret Clark, and Lydia & Eddie Clark, (785) 842-0385.
  • Homespun Hill Farm. Their web site says they have pastured turkeys. Debbie Yarnell, (785) 594-7111.
  • Brantley Family Farm. Their listing on says they are taking orders for pastured turkeys. Kelly Brantley, (913)583-9950.
  • Vesecky Family Farms. They too are taking orders for  pastured turkeys, both heritage breeds and white broadbreasted. Call 785-594-2493 or 785-594-3477.
  • The Community Mercantile. They’re offering turkeys from three local producers. Reserve yours at 785-843-8544.

In addition, at you can find lists of turkey producers in Kansas and Missouri, or search for other locations. See also Eat Well Guide and Eatwild.

Plucky cover girls. A few of Lawrence’s urban chicken keepers and their birds get the cover-girl treatment in the current edition of Lawrence magazine. The link goes to the magazine cover; the story starts on page 76, which is easy to find if you locate the index at the top of the screen or type the page number in the box at the top of the screen. (Lawrence Magazine)

Plowing up zoning restrictions. As urban farming grows, so do conflicts between city zoning laws and farmers. The Kansas City, Mo., City Council is looking to ease some restrictions, while other cities in the area stand firm. Issues involve where these farmers can farm and sell produce as well as all manner of livestock questions. The matters pit neighborhood ambiance against the interests of farmers and their customers. (Kansas City Star)

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