I’m visiting our market farmers in preparation of the start of Market in two weeks. It’s a very fun part of my job. Last week, I visited Ed Rakow’s and Pam Schmutzler’s farms. Spring is definitely here.
Ed and Pam both have high tunnels on their farms. High tunnels, or hoop houses, are unheated greenhouses that can help a market gardner or farmer extend their growing season. This means they can bring us locally grown food for longer periods of time throughout the year. I saw plenty of lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, carrots and onions ready for harvest. You should be able to find these on Opening Day, April 20th.
Ed Rakow’s farm is near Lohman, MO. Ed and his wife, Danielle, farm a small chunk of land near her family’s farm in a beautiful valley. They and their two teenagers manage a herd of goats and flocks of Rhode Island Red, Barred Rocks and Ameracuana chickens. Ed’s two dogs followed us around the farm as he showed me his orchard of various fruit trees, a field of blueberries, and a grove of pecan trees. There’s a lot happening on this little farm.
Pam Schmutzler built a hoophouse on her family farm and started growing things in it last fall. She was retiring from the Highway Department, but wasn’t ready to slow down. The Schmutzlers raise cattle and grow cash crops like soybeans and corn in the Osage River Valley. Pam often participated in our market last year, selling her baked goods and fresh produce. This year she plans to sell more vegetables, eggs, breads and cookies as a full-time Market member.
The day I visited, she was tending things in her greenhouse, a converted schoolbus. She was also busy in the hoophouse with her cool weather crops and eagerly waiting warmer soil temperatures to plant tomatoes and peppers. Pam has pecan trees as well, which thrive in the river valley. She showed off her flock of Leghorn chickens and her new strawberry beds that her husband, Monty and her son, Zack, were helping her build that day.
I’m excited to see what the other farmers have to show me and to share what I find over the next couple of weeks.