On Wednesday, July 29 I attended three markets in southwest Missouri. First I headed down to Aurora, 30 miles south of Springfield on Hwy 60. On Wednesdays and Saturdays the Aurora Local Farmers’ Market and the Open Farmers Market of Aurora both set up in Oak Park. On that Wednesday, both markets had approximately 12 vendors each, with a full array of summer fruits and vegetables.
I spent time talking with Deb Lane, who is a long-time vendor of both markets. She was also the founder of the Open Farmers Market. She gave me some of the history of the farmers’ markets and also spoke about some of their future plans. However, what was most fascinating was talking with Deb about her jams and jellies. I think she can make a jam out of anything. By checking out her booth, you can see what I mean. She has the usual fruit jams and jellies, but she also has coffee jelly, soft drink jellies like Coke and Mountain Dew, black walnut jelly, and spiced pickled watermelon rind jelly. This only scratches the surface; she said she can get 4 different products out of one batch of peaches, by using the skins, fruit, and pits. I was just wondering, if she made jam out of Colgate, could I kill two birds in the morning by eating it on my toast? Never mind.
I also spent time talking with Steve Madewell of Madewell Meats. In addition to his usual trailer of meats, he also had a trailer full of watermelons, cantaloupe, corn and peaches. While we were talking, Steve gave me a peach to eat. I told him he was a great salesman, because before I left I had to buy a whole bag of those peaches. (As a side note, I think I’m getting close to eating my body weight in peaches this season, but I’m not complaining they have all been wonderful.)
After leaving Aurora, I headed back north to the Fair Grove Farmers Market. Fair Grove is 15 minutes north of Springfield on Hwy 65. The Fair Grove market only meets on Wednesdays from 3:30-7:00. This year is their 10th anniversary. Fair Grove is a lively market with twice as many vendors as they have room for under their pavilion. Fair Grove also won the 2009 Market of the Year award for “Best Event” with their Growing Kids Club. In addition to those activities they were also having a corn roast fundraiser.
I spent some time talking with market managers Jim Gulick of the Berry Patch and Deb Van Benthusen of Deb’s Gourds. After that I grabbed some blackberries from Pate’s orchard, to wash down the peaches, and headed back to Jefferson City. Another great day visiting markets around Missouri.