3,100 tomatoes, 2,400 cucumbers, 2,000 ears of sweet corn, 400 pounds of raw beef and “quite a bit of granola.”
If you were to take the diverse selection of farm-fresh produce, oven-fresh baked goods and jar-fresh jams and line every product back-to-back, it would stretch the full 2 miles of one of KCI Airports’s runways — and then some. Unfortunately for curiosities sake, you won’t be able to test that claim because the farmer’s markets in Platte City and Parkville sell out nearly every week.
However, every Saturday at the Running Horse Ranch & Home parking lot in Platte City and every Wednesday and Saturday at English Landing Park in Parkville, Platte County residents are encouraged to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the two cities’ farmer’s markets.
“(Farmer’s markets) just offer an alternative for people to have a fresh product,” says 16-year Parkville vendor Lanny Frakes of Rushville, Mo. “We pick most of the items we bring a day or two before we come to market. It’s a fresh, very well cared for product.”
Area growers started the Parkville market more than 30 years ago as a way to bring their crops closer to customers, but this year, the Parkville location is trying something new. Teaming up with Cultivate Kansas City — a non-profit that promotes farmers and healthy foods in the Northland — the Parkville market offers customers the ability to buy produce using EBT and SNAP benefits.
“If you have an EBT card, you come down here and swipe your EBT card, then we give you tokens that are good at certain vendors,” says Shelly Oberdiek, the market manager for Parkville.
Thanks to a grant, Parkville received from Cultivate Kansas City, the market can also match EBT and SNAP up to $25. Individuals wishing to take part in the program are encouraged to talk to Oberdiek at the black table in the market.
The Parkville market, which runs noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, is the only location in Platte County that offers a SNAP-based incentive.
Producers for the Platte City market, which runs 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, used to sell at the Parkville location, but about 16 years ago, vendors decided the time was ripe to move somewhere else, according to Platte City market manager Mary Ann Brooks.
“It was just so busy in Parkville that a couple of us from the Main Street Association started (the Platte City farmer’s market),” Brooks said. “We’ve moved around a lot, but at least we’ve been able to keep the market.”
Although farmer’s markets are often filled to the brim with tomatoes and cucumbers, some vendors offer other unique products to attract customers.
“For the first year, we did a little produce and a few jams; then we decided to dump the produce and just do jams,” said Dave Hinkle, a grower from Weston, Mo., standing over a table with nearly 300 jars of freshly-canned jam. “We grow a little for ourselves and the rest of it we bring here.”
Hinkle presents a variety of flavors, from the typical grape and peach all the way to spicy habanero jam. He assures customers that the spicier options have been professionally tested, so the acidity won’t cause injury — just a few tears.
Diversity is the name of the game when it comes to the life of vendors at the markets, with some at the Parkville location supplying historic tulips, hand-crafted purses and towels and even freshly made summer sausage. The markets not only provide healthy foods and unique crafts, but also a sense of community, Frakes says.
“It’s a nice, relaxed community; everybody is friendly,” Frakes said. “Coming this many years, I know a lot of my customers personally, over the years you just get to know people.”
As the growing seasons come to an end, so too will the markets. The Platte City location will finish mid-September and the Parkville one will end their Wednesday market Sept. 21 and their Saturday market Oct. 29.