By Dennis Minich
The Harrisonville Farmers Market opened its season Saturday morning as 11 vendors set up on the Historic Harrisonville Square. Business was brisk on the first day as about 80 people shopped during the first hour which was set aside for “at-risk” shoppers.
Amanda Stites, a member of the Love the Square organization and organizer of the market, said she was happy the city gave approval for the weekly event and the vendors agreed to work with several precautions to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Among the precautions were hand sanitizers at each booth and cleaning the work area between customers.
“We’re taking the proactive approach,” Stites said. “We were worried in April that we might not be able to open, but it is great we were able to open. A lot of people are excited for us to be here.
“A lot of summer traditions were cancelled and I’m just really glad this isn’t one of them.”
Two customers on the scene early were Kathy Flanary and Karen Ferguson. Flanary said she was glad the market was open.
“Its wonderful to have this open. It seems like it has been such a long spring this year,” she said.
Ferguson added, “I hope they get some more stuff in because we really enjoy it and we like to buy local.”
One of the popular booths was the one manned by Stephanie Nash and her daughter, Erica, from rural Harrisonville. She has been involved in local markets for more than 10 years and features fruits picked on the family farm including baked goods like snickerdoodles and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.
“I really enjoy when people pay what I ask for baked goods. It makes me feel really good. Some people call me the pie lady and some call me the snickerdoodle lady. I just enjoy doing it because I am a peddler,” Nash said.
Fresh eggs were quick sellers at Bob and Lorie’s Eggs and Produce. Lori Kendall-Songer and Bob Lightle said they ran out of eggs during the first hour.
“We have a lot of clients that like our eggs so we go through those first and then we sell our produce. We grow with no herbicides and all-natural growth,” Lightle said.
Although produce was in short supply this early in the year, the pair was selling jams and jellies and decorative egg cartons. As the season progresses, they will add more produce including tomatoes, squash, eggplant and peppers.
A new vendor this year was Chris Myers from Peculiar who grows microgreens. He said he used to sell produce at a market in Independence, but has not downsized and this was his first day with his new products.
“It can be done in smaller compact areas I grow in hydroponics and I mostly do it because I enjoy doing it. It is not a money maker, I am doing it for fun,” Meyers said.
For the first day he had microgreen peas, red cabbage, radish and salad mixings with five different seasonings. He said he is experimenting with spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and cilantro.
“It may take all summer to establish a market, but these are things which can be grown year-round. It’s new and people tip toe into new things. My plan is to set up a subscription service,” Meyers said.
Another new product on the square was Freedom Coffee, a booth manned by Eli Harris, a junior at Harrisonville High School, and his sister, India, a freshman. Eli, along with his father, Mike, own the company.
“My dad really likes coffee, but he got tired of the burned stuff in stores. So, he would get beans and cook them in a pan. He started roasting and he had too much so we started selling to friends. This is the first time we’ve tried selling from a stand,” Eli said.
He said the beans come from throughout the world.
“We have one direct deal with a grower in Honduras. He started a coffee farm as part of a mission thing,” Eli said.
Eli and India had an inventory of both bags of coffee and fresh cups of coffee. The prepared drinks sold out early.
“I guess we will need to bring more next time,” Eli said.