Monday, September 17, 2012


 Sellers Baked Goods

If you read my last blog you'll know that Erica and I were up in Ridgeway, Missouri heading out after visiting Randy at Bear Lake Farms.   Our next stop was Sellers Baked Goods.  I couldn't wait!  Who doesn't want to visit a bakery?  

Originally from Tennessee, the Sellers now live just outside of Trenton, Missouri.  As we get closer to the address we spy the small, humble sign that reads "Baked Goods Here."  Such an unassuming sign for such spectacular homemade items.  We pull in and are greeted by Tabitha Sellers.  She leads us back to the bakery.  Due to health department regulations, baked goods sold to the public must be prepared in a certified kitchen.  This means that the entire kitchen must be separate from the home's kitchen.  This helps to keep us all safe when it comes to food consumption.

As soon as we open the door, we're completely overwhelmed by the smell of cinnamon.  In front of us was probably no less than 20 loaves of cinnamon bread fresh from the oven.  Just as I sit here typing this, I can almost smell it.

Don't you wish this were scratch n' sniff?
No skimping on the cinnamon here!
Next step...bagging the bread.

Each family member has a part in the bakery process.  Tabitha introduces me to her sister, Lydia, who is filling in for Hannah today who is sick.  She sits next to the stove stirring frosting for German chocolate bread.  Mrs. Sellers is in charge of breads and pies.  She looks up to greet us as her hands continue pinching the edges of a pie crust, never missing a beat.  Tabitha goes back to mixing up cakes, which is her part of the process today.  They tell me they produce nine types of pies, seven types of breads and fifteen different kinds of cakes.  Eleven ovens keep things cookin'.

Don't tell me you haven't tried their cinnamon rolls?

Mom's job today is breads and pies.  Of course by the time we arrived her baking day was almost over, as she had 'clocked in' at midnight to start her shift.  I quizzed Mrs. Sellers on their most popular item.  She said it would probably have to be the cinnamon bread.  Then I made her tell me what she likes the best.  The sourdough and cinnamon bread, she replied, and fruit pies with Coolwhip!  
Banana Bread in the making.
Pies in the process.

Just the basics in this bakery.

Waiting for market day.

Homemade Noodles

Erica and I decided not to stay long so these girls could get back to work.  It was great fun to see how this family works together each day to bring an outstanding bakery product to our market customers.

Makes you feel right at home, doesn't it?

Come visit Hannah Sellers at the Gladstone Farmers Market each Wednesday through October 24th from 2-6 pm

Friday, August 31, 2012

How 980 tomatoes inspired Dad

Bear Lake Farms

Another day of farm visits found me with my co-pilot, Erica, cruising up to Ridgeway, Missouri to visit Randy Polley at Bear Lake Farms.  I must admit that although I may act like I know directions, I can't fake it anymore because now I have a witness.  Erica wasn't at all impressed with my hand-written directions.  How was I to know that 'turn left at the flagpole' could lead us astray? 

For those of you who may not know, Ridgeway is located just North of Bethany on Missouri A Highway.   It was about an hour and a half drive up there, during which I was thinking what a long way to drive for the market each week, since I commute less than 8 minutes to work each day.  No doubt about it...these producers definitely have to love what they do!

 Erica trying to get my directions straightened out.

No Starbucks out here!

We spotted Randy as we arrived and he was glad to see us as we pulled in with a cloud of dust behind us.  He told us to climb in the walking through the gardens here, it was way too big!  
High Tunnel & Greenhouse

 First was the HUGE (did I mention huge?) pepper patch that had 16 different varieties growing.  Randy said he uses this as his trial area.  He plants things to see if they'll grow and then he tests them for flavor.  Let's just say he's had a lot of salsa this year.  

As he drove us around we saw much of the damage due to the drought.  Sad rows of corn that would not mature, dried up blueberry bushes...even the food planted for the deer didn't grow this year. 
Poor blueberries!

We headed around the lake. The view was gorgeous!  Down the hill, patches of squash are still thriving as weeds grow up to shade them from the sun.  Pumpkins, white and orange, lay in the hot sun; too early to pick, but stunted by lack of moisture.  Randy said rain in the next couple of weeks is crucial to a fall harvest. 

I asked Randy how he got started in all of this.  He said he built his house out moved out here after retirement from a farm supply center.  "Okay", I said "I've seen people put in vegetable gardens to give them something to do, but this is so much more than that!"  He laughed and explained that his daughter was in FFA (Future Farmers of America) when he moved here and as a project one summer she planted 980 tomato plants.  She produced a bumper crop that year and so the following year everyone asked if they were going to sell tomatoes again.  While her project was done, Randy figured he'd give it a shot and now produces just over 7 acres of crops.

Since then, Bear Lake Farms has become certified by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.  I asked Randy what this meant in terms of benefits to him.  He explained the technical part of the membership and then looked at me and said, that the reason he really does it is because it keeps him current on regulations and food safety.  This way nothing comes as a surprise to him as things change and develop.  That made a lot of sense to me.  If you want to remain  productive in any occupation, staying educated is the key.  

Heading back to the house we thanked Randy for the tour and his time.   Before I left I spotted his pigs.  "When would I ever get a chance to pet a pig?", I thought.  I headed over to the pen and got in.  Erica grabbed the camera; she wasn't missing this opportunity.  Much to my surprise they weren't smelly, but they sure were curious.  They loved my shoelaces!  I reached down to pet one and I couldn't believe how prickly he felt.   There...I can say I petted a pig!  Another adventure I never thought I would have working for the City of Gladstone.   

"Hurry up and take the picture, Erica!"

Come visit with Randy at the Gladstone Farmers Market every Wednesday from 2-6 pm.  Pick his brain on the latest technology in food production.  He's a smart guy and I promise he won't turn down a good conversation!  

  Bear Lake Farms Booth at the Gladstone Farmers Market

Thursday, July 19, 2012

From the Ground Up

"From the Ground Up".....not only does it describe the name of the business Verona & Shelle created earlier this year, but it also seems to describe the ladies themselves.   Friends since 1992 through playing softball, they hit it off and now run their business together producing meat rubs, marmalade, jellies, preserves, natural body scrubs, aprons and fresh herbs.

Verona & Shelle
After her kids graduated high school, Verona put herself through culinary school.  While doing so, she fell in love with herbs.  She told me that although she grew up in a farming family and had a garden at the age of 5, growing herbs really wasn't something they did.   Luckily, she has a VERY, green thumb and today grows up to 65 different varieties of herbs!  

Shelle, a stay-at-home Mom, enjoys teaching her daughter, Grace, about foods, cooking and gardening.  Verona approached her about starting the business and trying out the Farmers Market this year.  Shelle said she thought a day out of the house once a week would be something to look forward to.  Verona said Shelle makes everything looks "pretty" for selling.  It's obvious as you approach their booth...vintage tablecloths, delicate baskets and flowery labels on the jars make it very inviting.
Details make the difference

The ladies told me they work to find the freshest ingredients for their products.  When asked about the funniest thing that they've done during the creation of their business, Shelle said it was probably when they were laying out their garden.  They decided on square foot gardening, so she got out the tape measure, tent stakes, string and went to work! 

Early Beginnings of their Garden

Don't look for the ladies to slow down anytime soon.  They have a vision to create a tourist attraction of different styles of gardens.  A place where children could learn about planting, gardening, harvesting and crop rotation.  As Verona described this idea to me, I could see her excitement about teaching future generations everything she has learned and will continue to learn. 

Stop by and try a body scrub next week


 So, blog followers, I have an assignment for you.  When you stop and see Verona & Shelle next week, ask them what the herb "Borage" was used for in ancient Rome! I bet you'll be surprised. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Memories of Grandma

This has got to be a World Record zucchini, don't ya think?

Located in Rayville, Missouri, the Stockton's named their farm, Ida Belle Farms after Bobby's grandmother.  This is their first year with the Gladstone Market.  I've had a great time getting to know Bobby & Liz Stockton this year at the market, so I couldn't wait to visit them at their farm. 

Ida Belle Farms
Coming upon Rayville around lunchtime, I was thinking of all the cute diners I would probably find.  Dreaming of a big homemade BLT or a plate of fried chicken, I passed the sign that said, "Rayville: Population 223."  I turned left and saw the American Flag in front of the Post Office, passed by a couple of houses and then I was heading out of town again!  My co-pilot said, "I don't think we're eating here."  This was one small town, I thought!  Definately no where to run when you forgot to get enough sugar for the cookies you started making.  We turned our thoughts off of food and started looking for Ida Belle Farms. 

It was easy enough to find.  About two blocks off the main street, we found a quaint, blue farmhouse. Liz graciously greeted me and my co-worker.  As we started towards the garden, here comes Bobby who had been eating lunch. 

She toured me through her, neat, tidy garden spreading out before us.
Stockings hold the cabbage center together
Everything was blooming and growing and I just looked at her and said, "Liz, how do you guys do it?  How do you keep up?"  She said Bobby works the garden, while she works a full-time job through the week.  On her days off, she tends to the garden and they attend the market.  She said, like many farmers, that she can't count the hourly wage; she just enjoys doing it.  As we walk by a plastic, children's swimming pool, she  smiles and adds, "It's something we can do with our grandkids." 

Tomatoes came on early this year
Just like anyone this year, they are spending a lot of time and money on watering.  An irrigation system installed earlier this year makes watering faster and more productive, but Liz must estimate and plan for higher water bills.

Ida Belle Farms has a greenhouse where Bobby and Liz grow flowers in the springtime.  Plans are underway to construct a high tunnel in the fall allowing them to start plants earlier.

Bobby and Liz enjoy giving back to the community.  They have signed up with the Society of St. Andrew to pick up excess produce from Ida Belle Farms at the end of the market day or glean their fields to donate to local food pantries.  Liz has worked to make this available to all the vendors at the market. 

The next time you're at the market, take a moment to talk with Bobby and Liz.  Liz also posts on her Facebook page at  Thank them for making the drive down each week into our community and into our hearts! 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"I have an idea!"

K&V Farms, Cowgill, MO

Gena Vasbinder looked at her husband one evening in 2009 after reading several books by Eliott Coleman on organic gardening and said, "I have an idea!"  Her idea bloomed, and in 2010, farming became a full-time job for both of them.  Visiting Gena and her husband, Paxton at their farm in Cowgill, MO was a pleasure for me.  The backyard she spent hours playing in when she was a child is now where she spends hours plowing, planting and harvesting produce for her business, K&V Farms.  The farmhouse her family purchased in 1973 is Gena & Paxton's home part of the week.  I asked if she enjoyed gardening when she was growing up and she laughingly replied that her Dad would probably say he had to whip her to get her to pick green beans when she was little!

High Tunnel helps to keep veggies warm during early Spring
She began with tomatoes and cucumbers, but today, things have obviously changed.  As she gave me a tour of her gardens:  kale, eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, chard, blueberries, turnips, rhubarb, potatoes, leeks, kohlrabi, beets, carrots, cantaloupe, peppers, squash, okra, green beans, spinach, radish and watermelon!  I could hardly write fast enough.  A high tunnel helps new plants start under cover until the weather breaks in the Spring.

Besides attending farmers markets, K&V Farms supports itself by acquiring CSA members.  Community supported agriculture (CSA) programs allow a consumer to purchas a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer. Weekly or bi-weekly, your farmer will deliver that share of produce to you.
Watermelons- ready to eat in 82-85 days
CSA members pay for an entire season of produce upfront. This early bulk payment enables your farmer to plan for the season.

I asked Gena what she would like people to know the most about CSA's.  She said that the heart of a CSA is the relationship that you create with the producer.  "We are full-time farmers and CSA members support us year round", she said.  Market fees, seed, equipment repairs and ground preparation all come early in the season before any markets are even open, she explained.  The support of the members helps them off-set those fees.  Members choose their produce and tour the farm, often feeling the pain and joy Gena and Paxton do as they "weather the storm of farming", so to speak.  Gena said there are crop failures and other things they cannot control, but having the on-going support of their members means they can pursue their passion full-time.

Gena & Paxton Vasbinder making a go of farming full-time!
As I wrapped up my visit on this peaceful, quaint country farm, Gena's Dad was coming down from the tractor.  As I introduced myself, he talked about the ups and downs of farming and what it means when people choose to farm full-time.  He said by the time you add up all the time put into bringing produce to a farmers market, Gena and Paxton might be making $2.00 an hour.  That is what Gena explains to her customers when they ask why something at her table might be $1.00 more than someone else's produce.  She said it doesn't usually keep them from purchasing from her; they just want to know.  I had to laugh, as I was asking Gena's Dad questions about the early days of his farm.  He jokingly said of Gena, "She wouldn't have worked out there when she was little..would've have to whip her!"

It's good to know that some things never change and that is definitely the case at K&V Farms.  Family farming to bring you the freshest produce each Wednesday at the Gladstone Farmers Market.  It's not just the soil and sun that makes it grow, it's the Vasbinder's love!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Business has gone to the Dogs!

Thomas at work in the kitchen
How many twelve year-olds do you know that have their own business?  Our youngest vendor, Thomas, keeps busy with a business he has named "Molly's Muffins" making dog treats.  He has been with the Gladstone market since it opened in 2010.  Originally, he wanted to sell produce at the market, but when hail damaged his crop, he didn't give up....he got creative and started baking.  With the help of his sister, Zoe, (and of course, Mom), Thomas has mastered the art of pleasing his many customers with all-natural pet treats.
Wholesome Goodness

I visited Thomas' factory one Tuesday where he and Zoe were working on their third tray of biscuits.  When asked which flavor is their best seller they both replied, "Cheesy Dog Cookies!"  Made with only cheddar cheese, flour, vegetable oil, garlic powder and water, they also admitted that when they get hungry, they tend to nibble on them.  "Dang Good Puppy Treats" come in as a second bestseller with "Bacon Bites" at number three.

Cheesy Dog Cookies
Thomas said his recipes are simple and taken from "Buddy's Bakery" cookbook, which he picked up at Gladstone City Hall.  While Thomas' favorite part of the production process is rolling out and cutting the treats, Zoe prefers the packaging of the treats.  I personally tend to think their favorite part is bringing their finished product to the market and visiting with their customers.

Come visit with Thomas and his family each Wednesday at the Gladstone Farmers Market from 2-6 pm.  Look for "Molly's Muffins" to be introducing new value packs as well as variety packs.  Your dog will thank you!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Country Roads

Welcome to S&J Herbs & Heirlooms!
This year I have the opportunity to visit each of our vendors at their farm sometime during the market season.  Last Tuesday I started out for my first adventure to see Stacey at S&J Herbs & Heirlooms just outside of Liberty, MO.  Okay, I'm a "City Girl" and so once I got on gravel roads I was a little out of my element.  I cruised past her address the first time, so she graciously waved me back.  Camera and clipboard in hand, I climbed out of the car as chickens greeted me.  Not knowing what they would think of me, I was cautious, but Stacey grabbed one, picked it up and started petting it.  I slowly put my hand out and gave it a soft! 

Stacey began showing me around and explained that she had planted, among many other things, 260 tomato plants!  "Where does she find the time?", I'm thinking to myself.  Squash, blueberries, basil, chives, mint, chard, onions and so on down the list.  Is there anything this girl doesn't grow?

Watering new plants

Stacey and her husband have a great love for nature and it is evident in everything they do.  Although they cannot call themselves officially "certified", they do not use any types of pesticides or sprays of any kind.  A quick look at her face as she explains it says it all, "I just look at these birds out here and say no, I'm not doing it."  She uses alternatives like coffee grounds on newspaper to keep out weeds.

Looks like dirt, but it's coffee

Giant Onions!
As we walked through the field it was fun to see Stacey's excitement when she spoke of her onions.  Cippolini and sweet, candy are two types she grows.  She said they've never had much luck in the past getting them to grow large, but finally this year they are HUGE! 

Keyhole Bed
Something new for Herbs & Heirlooms Farm this year are keyhole beds.  This type of planting creates a "keyhole" look when viewed from the front as the plants grow up and over the middle of the bed.  This, in turn, creates shade for some plantings, sun for others. 

Diakon Radish Ready to go to Market

Stacey & Jeff's "Labor of Love"

As the tour ends, we end up back in the front of the house looking at all the beautiful flowers that have been at the property for 20 years or so.  Then one little Gerber Daisy sits by the front door, purchased at this year's Gladstone market.  I can see that it has found a great home here with  people who love the environment, nature and most importantly LOVE what they do. 

I tried to take one more picture of the chickens before I left and as you can see, this is what he thought of this "City-Girl!"

Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Birthday!

May 2nd marked the Gladstone Farmers Market's 3rd birthday!  Just like any three year old, we're growing and changing before your very eyes.  Excited for the 2:00 opening, we had a line of anxious shoppers.  
New this year are "traveling vendors."  You will find them in the middle of the market under the beige canopies.  These vendors will rotate monthly and bring local crafts, produce and communities activities.  Below is Jody Wells, or "Windchime Woman" as she calls herself.  Jody brought a beautiful display of glass windchimes as well as chimes made with antique silverware.  Jody is hoping for more sunshine when she returns on June 6th that will show her chimes off even better. 
"Windchime Woman- returning June 6th"                                                          

Some of our new vendors:
Sweet smelling body scrubs by Shelle & Verona of Grace Naturals

Bobby & Liz of Ida Belle Farms.  As them how they named their farm!

Hey, where's Gena & Paxton of K&V Farms?

And of course, so glad to have our returning vendors:
Thomas & Zoe of Tom's Green Thumb....(and a quiet sleeping baby.....)

Great recycled treasures at Genie Jewelry
Mac of Goosehollow Gardens.  Ask him about his award!
Smilin' Stacey of S&J Herbs and Heirlooms

Didn't get Joe of Morning Dew Acres in the picture, but I know these are his great lookin' radishes.

"Tie-Dye" Kathy of KAT Tracks and all her creative creations!

Well, what else can I say!?  We had a great time Wednesday and this is only the beginning.  If you missed it, you still have lots of chances.  We're open every Wednesday from 2-6pm, just one block east of North Oak on NE 70th Street.