ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JANET HAMOUS
Getting out of bed early Saturday morning may just be worth it if you live within driving distance of the Peabody or Goessel farmer’s markets.
Warm cranberry scones, a bushel basket of fresh picked peas, vine ripened strawberries, gooey sticky buns, tiny new potatoes, homemade pecan pie, thick T-bone steaks, heavenly angel food cake – these are just a few of the taste tempting items for sale at the Doyle Valley Farmer’s Market in Peabody recently.
The market is one of two farmer’s markets in the county that open during the summer to provide area residents with a continuous selection of fresh-from-the-garden produce and homemade baked goods.
Peabody’s market has been operating for five years, said Marilyn Jones, one of the original organizers.
“We thought it would be nice to have a community group to have produce,” said Jones. “We wrote a grant and we got $1,000. We used that for advertising and signage.”
The group then got a second grant through the Kansas Rural Center in Whiting, Kansas and used those funds to buy tents for each of the vendors. She said they always hope for sunshine, but in the event of inclement weather, the tents enable the market to go on.
Jones said about 17 people are involved with the Peabody farmer’s market. Goods sold at the market include homemade crafts, baked goods, fresh flowers, herbs, eggs, nuts, berries, all natural beef, plants and trees, and produce grown in gardens and farms around the area.
The market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon from Memorial Day to Labor Day in Santa Fe Park in downtown Peabody. Jones said they sometimes extend the season beyond Labor Day.
“We usually go a couple weeks longer,” she said. “It is just a matter of whether we have enough produce.”
In August, the group hosts a community dinner, and farmer’s market customers are invited to purchase tickets to the meal. They serve dishes prepared using their home grown products.
The Goessel farmer’s market is getting a late start this year, but organizer Jane Hiebert said the market will be open Saturdays beginning July 5. The hours are from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and she expects the market will be located in the traditional spot in the parking lot of the Mid Kansas Co-op.
“Four or five ladies are there every Saturday,” said vendor Jennifer Stultz. “It’s very low key-mostly baked goods and some garden produce and crafts.”
Stultz operates a goat dairy farm and brings goat cheese, yogurt and fudge to the market.
“There is always zwieback and cinnamon rolls,” she said, “and Jane always has homemade jellies.”
“I like to do the wild fruit,” said Hiebert, who just came inside from picking strawberries. “I do others too, like strawberries and things we have, but we like to pick currants, choke cherries, wild grapes and elderberries.”
Hiebert said there has been a farmer’s market in Goessel since 1992. The only year they missed was 2002 “because there wasn’t enough interest.”
Both the Peabody and Goessel markets require that all products sold be Kansas grown or made.
“We don’t want someone to come from Texas with a load of corn,” said Hiebert. “It needs to be local products.”
Both markets also welcome new vendors.
Jones said they don’t require that vendors be from Peabody-the group includes vendors from around the area.
And vendors who round out the selection of goods offered are particularly needed.
“A fruit vendor would be wonderful,” said Jones.
Vendors are charged a small fee for participating in the markets.
Hiebert said the Goessel market charges vendors 10 percent of what they sell that day.
“Sometimes they sell very little and don’t have to pay very much,” she said. “Sometimes we have a very good Saturday and it will be $6 or $8 for each of us. We need to cover our advertising with something.”
At the Doyle Valley market, vendors pay a $20 annual membership fee or $5 each time they sell. Proceeds are also used for advertising.
Jones said that one benefit of membership is participation in the educational programs hosted by the group. They bring in a variety of speakers with expertise in growing products for farmer’s markets and also take occasional field trips to visit places of interest.
During the year, the group also has a catered meal for members.
“This time all we do is eat,” said Jones. “It’s a nice treat for us.”
Another benefit of being a vendor at a farmer’s market is the camaraderie between vendors and customers.
“The best thing is just visiting with everybody,” Stultz said. “You get used to seeing the same people every week.”
Vendors look forward to seeing the “regulars” every week, and they are sometimes surprised at who drops in on any particular Saturday.
Tom and Linda Mercer came all the way from Gibbon, Neb., to pick out home-grown produce and fresh baked goods at the Doyle Valley Farmer’s Market in Peabody on Saturday.
“Whenever we travel, we have to check out everyone else’s farmer’s markets and what they have that we don’t,” said Tom. “We found this one on the Web site and came down.”
The Mercers have participated in the farmer’s market in Kearney, Neb., for years, said Linda.
“We specialize in sweet corn and tomatoes,” she said. “We put eight kids through college on that money.”