By Nick Levendofsky and Mary Howell
As you’ve read in past Kontacts, Kansas Farmers Union has been working with veterans who want to return to their roots and begin a life in agriculture following their service to our country.
After holding two very successful workshops in Manhattan and Overland Park, we are currently planning farm tours for veterans, KFU members, and the public through summer and early fall. We are asking KFU members and other farmers to join us to share their knowledge with the veterans that are participating with us.
We found in our first two workshops that the part the veterans really enjoyed and greatly appreciated was networking with “real” farmers. So we invite you to come share your story as we travel the scenic farm country of our beautiful state of Kansas.
These tour stops will feature specialty crops and agricultural marketing opportunities for beginning farmers on a smaller scale. Today’s prices for land and equipment will limit the size of a beginning farmer.
Our first tour was June 20 in the Emporia/Americus area. The group toured the four generation farm of Harold and Naomi Brenzikofer. They’ve been selling at the Emporia Farmer’s Market for all 30 years. They are highly diversified; everything from flowers to a wide variety of vegetables, eggs and greenhouse strawberries.
Then the manager of the PrairieLand John Deere Dealership gave a tour and explained the garden they have next to the dealership.
The group also toured Shepherd’s Valley, the farm of John and Ramona Crisp, located near Americus in the Flint Hills tall grass prairie region of east central Kansas, a family-owned diversified farm featuring fruits, vegetables, herbs, poultry, sheep and eggs direct marketed to consumers through seasonal CSA subscription share programs.
Gary Jansen makes all sorts of jams and jellies in addition to growing his own produce. Gary shared how his operation is adapted to meet his physical disability. The day will concluded at the Emporia Farmers Market.
To view pictures, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/ksfarmersunion/sets/72157630222363754/
For a review of the tours by Our Local Food Kansas, visit http://ourlocalfoodtwinrivers.blogspot.com/2012/07/veteran-farmers-tour-june-2012.html
July 31: The Specialty Crops Tour starting in Edgerton features Gieringer’s Orchard and Soaring Eagle Organic Farms. Lunch will be at Smokey’s BBQ in Wellsville. Moving to Lawrence…Pendleton Market, and The Red Tractor Farm will be the afternoon tour stops. A trip to the Lawrence Farmer’s Market will complete the day. You will want to take some fresh food home from this market also.
To view pictures from Edgerton and Lawrence, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/ksfarmersunion/sets/72157630854793792/
Jim Gerrish, Grazing Expert returns to Kansas for two 2-day workshops; August 13-14 in Topeka at the Ramada and August 15-16 in Hays at Whiskey Creek Steakhouse.
Late summer, a grazing tour to the Ted Alexander Ranch in Barber County will be offered to further study ranch management and implications of drought. Watch for further details.
September 19-20 we will travel to Atwood in Western Kansas to visit the High Plains Food Co-op and the many producers that it serves. This cooperative collects farm products and ships to the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains to customers who place monthly orders. We will visit during a “ship out” to get to know the producers and watch the process. We will visit several producers and learn how they grow or create their products and how this marketing system provides an increased customer base.
The High Plains Food Co-op is a grassroots network of High Plains and Rocky Mountain Front Range producers and consumers uniting interests in locally grown food and other locally made products. The High Plains Food Cooperative takes the farmer’s market to the consumer’s home community.
Please visit our website http://www.kansasfarmersunion.org for more information on upcoming tours and registration directions. Any questions, contact Mary or Nick. We hope to see you with us! Please register so proper accommodations and food needs can be arranged.