I love summer....I love growing things to eat. Just seeing them sprout, then grow, and bear fruit is an amazing sight to see in my book. About February each year I sit and organize all of my seeds and make my plan, dreaming of all of my fresh produce yet to come. I think Scout from "To Kill a Mockingbird" says it best: "Summer was our best season.....summer is everything good to eat. It was a thousand colors in a parched landscape...."
I am what some say a local produce connoisseur. I LOVE farmer's markets, perusing the homemade goodness farmers lovingly bring to the markets. I always think they look like proud parents with their bouncing baby....zucchini?! Anyone who puts that much love and work into food for us deserves much respect in my book.
Local, fresh picked produce is also unbelievably healthier for us. I could go on and on here, but just take my word for it- you'd rather have a fresh picked tomato then one picked green in Mexico in falsely fertilized soils, ripened with ethylene gas, then shipped to the grocery store to end up as little more nutrition than that waxy fake fruit in the paintings. Also, produce grown locally and not "triple washed" have actual soil based probiotics on them which are good for our guts! Lastly, eating in season as things naturally grow follows the natural rhythm of life. Nature knows what we need in different seasons, such as summer veggies being full of water...think watermelon! The taste difference alone will make you a market junkie like me in no time. You will support a local business as well as get yourself more vitamins and minerals, as well as be confident as to where it has come from. Can we say E-coli romaine recalls here???? I messaged my lettuce vendor and said "yes, I would like to order some non E-coli stricken lettuce, please!" She laughed along with me. There is comfort and confidence in knowing that my lettuce comes from someone down the road or my own garden.
I have had a lot of clients ask me where I get this or that, so I figured with the season upon us now that I would write out where I get all of my goodies all season long. Note, there are tons of other farms I have yet to discover. If you have any places I don't touch on, post a comment or bring it to my attention! I am always looking for fresh sources for things so I can spread the wealth evenly among these hardworking farmers.
Summer produce guide:
Visit a local farmer's market!!!
This will be the where you see the most options in one spot at one time and you can talk to your producer directly.
Kansas Grown Markets:
Saturday- West Side at Sedgwick County Extension Center and Derby at Madison Avenue Park from 7am-12pm
Wednesday- 13th and Webb (Whole Foods) from 3pm-6pm
*This website has a full list of vendors and what they sell. There are tonnnnns of produce vendors, local meat farms where you can get anything from grass-fed beef to lamb to meat for dog food (Yes....I am one of those people), homemade baked goods and breads and everything in between. Check this huge market out. You will be sure to make some friends.
Old Town Farmer's Market:
Saturday- 216 N. Mosley, Old Town (behind the museum in the big parking lot) 7am-12pm
*Lots of the vendors switch between the west side market and the downtown market or have multiple stands set up and go to both. This site has a cool interactive map on their homepage so you can see where people are set up.
Specific Farms I use:
Elm Lane Farm; Rosehill, Ks
-Hydroponically grown, multiple species, available year round!!!!
-pretty, pretty lettuce and Karen is awesome!
Asparagus, all spring/summer veggies
Her Produce; 31st and Webb
-Awesome asparagus in April/May, strawberries in May/June, all other veggies including Asian varieties of greens, onion, herbs, cabbage, purple sweet potatoes
-This family also has a stand/shed at their house just down their driveway they keep produce in where you can pay and take what you want.
-Her Produce facebook page
-They have stands at each farmer's market, including Derby
Asparagus, Strawberries, Blackberries, all spring/summer/fall veggies, pumpkins!
Sargeant's Berry Farm; 95th and Hydraulic in Haysville
-Everyone probably knows about this farm as it is one of the older, more well known farms around.
-Perfect place to pick strawberries each spring; I believe they are done now for the season. Blackberries will be in July
-This farm is more "old school" as the farmer's are older, so they recommend calling their phone number before heading out to the farm to see what they have for the day.
-They have an open market barn where you can shop and pick what you want, and have long hours.
-Awesome place to pick out different looking pumpkins in the fall, as well as all of the winter squashes and sweet potatoes. I literally go and load up and those squashes can store in a cool, dry place alllll winter long. I have to have fresh butternut squash to make Pioneer Woman's butternut mac-n-cheese!!
-Has a stand at the Derby Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings after their strawberry season (June-September)
Elderslie Farm; Kechi, Ks
-This farm is delightful; it is more "upscale", meaning they have a "Bramble Cafe" where you can go eat breakfast and have delectable treats from homegrown products. Katherine went to Italy and learned the finer ways of cooking, and it comes out in their products.
-They also have fancy farm to table dinners all throughout the season, which would be an awesome special experience for a special occasion.
-Blackberries......oh my. These suckers are two inches long sometimes and put those tart, hard blackberry look alike from the store to shame. They are.....amazing. I can't even tell you enough about these berries. You can bring the kids and come and pick as much as your heart desires, or just order berries by the flat for a few dollars more at the farm. I believe you can also pick up at the farmer's markets. In my experience, they have been super flexible and want you to get your berries. They ripen in late June to July.
-They also sell summer veggies, have hayrack rides, etc at their farm.
Chautauqua Hills Farm; Sedan, Ks
-blueberries grow best here because of the limestone around this land; it creates an acidic soil which these berries thrive on. They ripen mid to late June through July.
-These blueberries are worth the drive; they are nicknamed "home of the nickel sized berries"....they aren't lying. They are perfectly sweet and freeze well. I still have some in the freezer from last year! They get even better frozen, believe it or not.
-come and pick as much as you want for $38 a gallon (6.5lbs!), or you can order and pick up at Two Olives in Wichita as they drive them up. Also, Bradley Farms at the Derby Farmer's Market as well as Morning Harvest Farm at the west side/old town market carries these berries during the season to buy smaller quantities.
-They also grow blackberries and if you time your visit right, you may be able to catch the last part of blue season and get some blacks while you're there.
Meadowlark Farm; Rosehill, Ks
My husband didn't get nicknamed "Peaches" at work for nothing!!! We LOVE this farm. I, as well as my mom are nicknamed the "Sturdy women" at this farm. because we would always go out at 2pm in the hot afternoon to pick our peaches and haul several baskets back!
-This farm has done a marvelous job of strategically timing their peach and apple varieties where each variety follows the next almost biweekly and therefore they have new and constant varieties of peaches in late June to August, followed by many varieties of apples from August to almost October.
-You can go pick your own from the farm, which I recommend, or you can buy them for a bit more at the Old Town Farmer's market or the Derby Farmer's market in the thick of the season.
-They also had their first "U pick" set of strawberries this season that went well. Look for that next year.
-They have a market barn on site where you can pick out other veggies and products. If they have a surplus of some veggies, they may let you go pick your own squash or tomatoes.
-This farm is the biggest up and coming place to visit; I can't say enough about the owner Tom Brown and the hard work they've done there.
-Adults: He also makes his own Hard Apple Cider year round; it is bottled and sold at the farm. They use apples from an orchard in Topeka, Ks.
-They are very responsive on their facebook page or you can call Tom personally as he lists his number. All updates will be on their facebook page as to what varieties of peaches and apples are available at each time as well as other farm happenings.
These are my favorite farms for fruit picking and produce, but there are tons of others! I picked farms close to me for convenience as well as variety of products.
You can google "U Pick" farms around, or visit Eatwild.com for other resources. The info is out there, you just have to make the time to go get it! I hope this has been a good start with some insider information.
As my favorite farmer Joel Salatin has said: " most of these farmers are 10 customers away from farming full time, they WANT you to buy their products. Help make their dream come true. " Another great pearl of wisdom from ol Joel to end my blog post for today.
Thanks for stopping in,