At Wednesday evening’s annual meeting for the vendors of the Lawrence Farmers Market, vendors discussed ideas such as creating a Saturday winter market and working toward the creation of year-round food distribution systems.
Developing such plans are -- as they would be for any business -- a part of the long-term planning needed to reach new customers.
As a part of its planning process, the Lawrence Farmers Market achieved IRS designation as a 501c-3 non-profit organization this year. It was a difficult feat that has been years in the making. This status will open opportunities to apply for grants and ask for private support to expand opportunities to bring food to Douglas County and the surrounding area.
What kind of opportunities? One idea is to expand programs for low-income customers, such as the EBT program that accepts Vision cards (formerly known as food stamps). Opportunities also could include grander ideas, such as food hubs that help farmers distribute produce wholesale to schools, hospitals, restaurants and grocery stores. The community of Grand Rapids, Michigan – banking on food as its future – has invested in an enormous food hub and year-round market this year.
The Lawrence Farmers Market is your market. As we close out the 7-month regular season, please know that behind the scenes, the market's board of directors, volunteers and vendors are already planning for next year, and beyond, to improve the market for not only its customers, but also its place in the community.
We hope to see you for the final day of the regular season, Saturday, from 8-11 at 8th and New Hampshire, and again at the holiday market at the Holidome on Dec. 8 from 9-5.
A postscript, of sorts: If you visit the market’s Facebook page, you'll see some of our community thoughts on the season - favorite food finds as named by our customers, what customers and vendors miss during the off season, and even a few ham-handed attempts at market poetry!
Turnips. Before you turn up your nose in disgust, I'm not talking about those weird wax-covered alien turnips you see at the store. Real turnips, such as sweet Asian turnips and globe purple-top turnips, right out of the ground -- and available at the Lawrence Farmers Market.
Picture this: a combination of thick slices of sweet potato, chunks of crisp apple and sweet turnips roasted together in a cast iron skillet in the oven, or on the grill. A little butter, a little salt. Nothing tastes like fall more!
But don't take my word for it. Get to the market Saturdays 8-11 a.m. all the way through Nov. 17 to get your own fresh turnips from local farmers. And while you're there, get something to roast with them. Maybe that'll be a beef roast or chicken, or some squash or carrots. Don't forget the eggs, the jam, the breads, the pumpkins--- all your fall favorites.
In a last-minute change of plans, the Lawrence Farmers’ Market Thursday vendors will sell their produce today after all — just not at their previously planned location.
Produce vendors who expected to be at the market’s former Westside location — the southwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive — have been invited to set up at the Cottin’s Farmers’ Market, which is open from 4 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. today outside the hardware store at 1832 Mass.
Store owner Linda Cottin said she offered the option to produce vendors because they “had things they couldn’t put back in the ground.”
“We have very limited space,” she said. “Everybody’s going to squeeze together.”
Market planners announced late Wednesday that the market had lost its Westside home following an ownership change at the shopping center.
“Our Sixth and Wakarusa location is no longer a viable option,” Pam Bramlett, market coordinator, said in a follow-up email. “We would like to thank the community for offering us so many potential homes, after hearing of our unexpected need to move.”
Many businesses and organizations contacted the market and offered locations with higher visibility than Sixth and Wakarusa, Bramlett said.
“This is going to be a very positive move,” she said.
Organizers said they hoped to announce a new permanent home for the Westside market location soon.
The kids have been back at school for a couple of months, half of the Halloween candy has been gobbled up, and now you're experiencing a great blast of cold fall weather. You might think that many a farmer's field would be a patch of bare brown ground by now, too.
But those who grow the hearty vegetables of fall are still tending to their leafy greens, root crops and other vegetables -- and some will keep doing so, even tucking sensitive plants under plastic or cloth to extend the season into December.
Many cool weather crops such as lettuce, arugula, spinach, chard and kale are in abundance, as are beets, carrots and salad and storage types of turnips. These plants can keep producing, even when hit with a few rounds of light frost. Some growers also rushed out to pick what would have been destroyed by the first major frost, preserving piles of peppers, beans, squash, sweet potatoes and even green tomatoes.
You'll find the farmers who persevere in all sorts of weather bundled up and ready to offer the fall vegetables you would like for hearty soups or roasting, plus meats, eggs and crafted goods at the Lawrence Farmers Market, continuing Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 8th and New Hampshire streets. The final day of the regular Saturday market is November 19, and the holiday market is Dec. 10.
If you didn’t make it to Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market last week, rest assured, you were one of the few, as hundreds of people flocked to the back parking lot at Cottin’s Hardware & Rental to partake in some of the finest food offerings in town. The party like atmosphere was contagious as people perused product offerings whiling sipping on Free State beer or nibbling a taste of delicious Iwig Dairy Ice Cream. Fresh Picked entertained the masses with their wonderful acoustical selections and the promising heat of the summer made the allure of S & S Artisanal Grocery’s handmade strawberry popsicles that much more delectable. Vesecky Farms added a bit of weight to everyone’s market bag as they doled out pasture raised chickens, turkeys and ducks and Wohletz Farm sold out of their haul of luscious strawberries before the Iwig Dairy ice cream had time to melt.
Larger than life vegetable sculptures were harvested from the KU Art class just in time for market and drew a lot of attention from young and old, as a friendly game of “Name that Vegetable” ensued. The sculptures will be on display throughout the month of June and possibly longer if their “freshness” can be maintained.
This week’s market is sure to bring much of the same. Mister Bacon BBQ will return again to supply hot fresh BBQ to market patrons. John Thompson will entertain all with his modern and traditional musical squeeze box renderings. Regular vendors will be on hand with their unique selection of products. Stony Ridge Farm will continue to fill their booth with breads, jellies and assorted bake goods, as well as farm fresh eggs, as they await the season’s first harvest of fruit from their many varieties of trees. Upward Spiral bake goods will offer their delicious, ready to cook pie crust as well as a nice assortment of homemade breads and goodies. Backdoor Bakery will also offer sweets and treats, heavy on the local ingredients and pleasantly pleasing too. In the frozen section, Iwig Dairy will return with a larger selection of local ice cream and Vesecky Farms will be on hand again with large and small pasture raised chickens, turkeys and ducks.
Local farmers will continue to supply seasonal produce, heavy on the greens, but supplemented with seasonal produce, now including broccoli, turnips, radishes, green onions, and possibly some strawberries too. Farm fresh eggs will be available from several vendors and some late season vegetable starts can still be had from Nuestra Hortiliza and others. Vinland Valley Nursery will be on hand to answer your gardening questions and help you choose from their selection of annual and perennial plants. New Boston Coop will also be there with a selection of products including olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt, for your supplemental grocery needs.
Cottin’s started their market last year, at the request of farmers and patrons alike, and decided to try their hand at a full season market this year. Response has been over whelming as the community embraces the event with enthusiasm and support. Farmers markets have been around almost as long as the advent of agriculture, but they had seemingly gone the wayside with the dawn of supermarkets and industrial farm systems. The past decade has ushered in a rebirth of farmers markets near and far, with the USDA reporting a 72% increase in the number of farmers markets across the country. Such a dramatic change in the buying patterns of US consumers begs the question, why? Why the sudden interest in fresh, local produce? Why the increasing development of small scale farms?
The simple answer could be, it just tastes better. Produce grown for local farmers markets is typically harvested less than 24 hours before market time. Produce in grocery stores often travels thousands of miles and is usually several days, if not several weeks, old before it ever reaches the retail shelves. Research shows produce loses 75% of its nutritional value within three days after harvesting. Consumers purchasing products at farmers markets are promised fresher and more nutritious products compared to products purchased in typical grocery stores. Small scale farmers choose a wide variety of products to grow; selecting for flavor over yield, as opposed to standard grocery store varieties whose proliferation is based solely on quantity production, not quality. Soils on small scale farms are more sustainably cared for than soils on commercial farms. Small scale farmers use natural soil amendments, crop rotation, companion planting and other natural methods to increase soil productivity and maintain high nutrient levels within their soil. Better soil means better produce, better taste and better nutrition.
Farmers markets also offer something grocery stores can’t, the ability to talk to the farmers and producers. Do you wonder if the product you are purchasing is grown without chemicals? Ask the farmer. Want to know where the ingredients of the bread you are buying came from? Ask the farmer. Confused on the different types of leafy greens available? Ask the farmer. Wondering what to cook for dinner? Ask the farmer. Many farmers have recipes on hand to share and all farmers are happy to tell you about their success and failures of preparing the produce you are about to purchase. Farmers are also excited to tell you about their growing practices, often encouraging customers to head out to the farm for a personal tour of where their food comes from.
So this week at Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market, take time to talk with the different vendors. Ask your farmer how he grows his food; ask your baker where she gets her ingredients. Learn where your food comes from and be confident in knowing that you are making the right choice when you choose to shop at Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market or any of the other wonderful farmers markets Lawrence has to offer!
For those of you not familiar with John Thompson's musical mastery, here is a short sample from last year's farmers market...
Please join us this Thursday, August 5, for fresh food and live music in the back parking lot of Cottin's Hardware & Rental, 1832 Massachusetts Street:
Farmers Market Thursdays 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
August - September
Participating Vendors: Avery’s Produce, Hoyland Farm, Gasper Farms, MAD Farm, Mellow Fields Urban Farm, New Boston Coop, Ross Family Indian Tacos, Stone Ridge Farm, Those Polish Thingies, Upward Spirals Bake Goods
Scheduled Bands: Mojo Nation – August 5 & 12 Bodacious Babes – August 19 Ragtimes x 2 – August 26 Rhubarb Pie – September 30
Indian Tacos! Live Music! Fun for All Ages!
The Downtown Farmers' Market opened up its 2010 season on Saturday with the first wave of produce and local food available for sale. A number of people turned out for the market, which was open from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The Farmers' Market has moved its weekday market out of downtown and to the parking lot at 6th and Wakarusa, but the downtown market returns this coming weekend.