The Best of Home Grown, Home Baked and Hand Crafted by Local Farmers, Gardeners and Artisans.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Applications for Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program are Now Available

ECKAN is now accepting applications for Kansas Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (KS SFNMP) vouchers. The program provides qualifying low-income seniors with $30 of cash benefits for use during the 2013 harvest season.

To apply for these vouchers in Emporia, Lyon County ECKAN located at 616 Merchant St, Emporia. Phone, 620-342-4607

SFMNP vouchers may be used to purchase local, fresh produce at farmers markets, roadside stands and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs.

Emporia Farmers Market vendors who are certified to accept SFNMP checks will display a poster at their stall stating "Kansas Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program Checks Accepted Here." Markets take place in the parking lot at 7th and Merchant; Saturdays starting at 8:00AM, Wednesdays starting at 5:00PM.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Emporia Celebrates the Flint Hills at Wednesday Farmers Market, Opening June 5

The Emporia Farmers Market opens on Wednesdays in the parking lot at 7th and Merchant starting June 5 at 5:00 PM.

Emporia Celebrates the Flint Hills, a group of citizens promoting activities that expose the public to the grandeur of the Flint Hills Region, is sponsoring the first two weeks of June Markets. On June 5, 8 and 12 you will be able to earn discounts at area downtown businesses by shopping at the market. Simply show a volunteer at the market kiosk what you’ve purchased at the market that day, and you will receive a coupon for qualifying specials with Main Street merchants.

More information about the Emporia Farmers Market and events can be found on their website,

Advance Purchase of Tickets for Dirty Kanza 200 Pasta Palooza event ends Friday

Deadline for purchase of Dirty Kanza 200 Pasta Palooza tickets at the advance rate of $10 (all you can eat spaghetti) is this Friday, May 24, at noon. Purchase them online at or from Tracy Simmons at the Emporia Farmers Market office at 701 Commercial, up the stairs.

DK200 riders are invited, as well as any community members who would like a chance to meet and dine with those who are coming to Emporia from all corners of the US for this exciting event. This is the third year that the Emporia Farmers Market will be hosting this event in conjunction with the Dirty Kanza 200 bike race. It has become the market's largest fundraising event of the year.

The Pasta Palooza will take place at St. Andrews Episcopal Church at 828 Commercial in Emporia on Friday, May 31. Meals will be served from 4:00 to 7:30 pm. Cost of tickets purchased in advance is $10 for all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner and salad. Garlic bread and cookies will also be served. Tickets will be sold at the door, with no guarantee for numbers available, for $12 each.

For more information, contact market manager, Tracy Simmons, at 620-343-6555 or email

Live Music and Blueberry Lemon Scones at Saturday's Farmers Market

Americus singer and song writer, Savanna Chestnut, will be playing live for the first summer musical appearance of the season at the Emporia Farmers Market, Saturday, May 25, starting at 8:00 AM. The former European Bake Shop of Hartford will also be making a special, one-time-only appearance at the market with everybody's favorite blueberry lemon scones.

Expected produce at the market on Saturday includes strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, cucumbers, green onions, a variety of lettuces, spring greens and more. Shop with market bakers for your delicious homemade goodies for this Memorial Day weekend.

A complete calendar of market events can be found at, or join us on Facebook for news and updates.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Urban Farm: Ben Stallings

Ben Stallings invited visitors to tour his Urban Farm in Emporia for International Permaculture Day on May 6, 2012. Ben's 1920-era home sits on approximately 1/10th of an acre. Once you account for the house, the driveway, sidewalks and a small shed out back, there's not a whole heck of a lot of yard space left. Ben's approach to yard management, however, is appealing.

"Taking care of a lawn can be a lot of work," Ben says. "But it's not productive work."

Think of it in these terms: every time you mow your lawn you are harvesting, but in a traditional yard, you receive no benefit from the harvest.

When Ben bought the home in 2008, the yard was primarily grass and volunteer trees. Ben's goal was to reduce the amount of time needed to maintain the lawn and work it into something that would produce a good and useful harvest. He wanted the resulting garden his lawn would become to eventually be less work than the existing grass was.

Ben's background includes a year-long tour on bicycle of various ecovillages and intentional communities. This prompted his interest in permaculture. He become a certified permaculture designer in 2010 and his urban farm, starting with 36 crops in its first year, now supplies food for he and his wife, as well as cash crops for the Emporia Farmers Market where he has been participating as a vendor for three years now.

Ben does not till his soil, but instead uses a process called sheet mulching to enhance his soil and create the beds that become home to his low-maintenance garden plots. He arranges his plants in guilds, meaning that each plant should play some role in supporting the other plants in the guild. Via succession, the harvest from the guilds should change as each system matures. The area around a young walnut tree, for instance, currently grows mulberries, chive and aronia. Onions attract beneficial insects. Beans planted next to onions thrive where beans planted alone do less well.

The back yard includes a greenhouse in its second incarnation. A PVC framed hoop house sort of set up failed to stand up to snow a previous winter. A wooden frame now replaces the original design. In theory, the greenhouse is host to three poly-cultures (plants that grow better together than separately) and he relies on vertical growing to help shad plants that don't tolerate heat as well.

Since Ben considers much of his effort experimental, there really is no failure on his urban farm. What works becomes material for him to incorporate into his designs for clients. What doesn't work simply gives him ideas for new directions to try at a later date.

An audio recording of the tour, complete with photo illustrations, can be found at Interdependent Web, as well as several other resources of value to those interested in permaculture.

What is permaculture?
"In brief, it is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating elements as a single-product system."
Introduction to Permaculture, by Bill Mollison 

Ben offered his guests strawberries and cream and chocolate mint tea. The strawberries were so sweet I never even bothered with the cream. They were perfect, sun drenched and hand picked. And everywhere I looked I saw another ripe one or two begging to be tasted.

A Visit to the Country Flower Shed

I recently had the opportunity to visit the farm of Harold and Naomi Brenzikofer. The Brenzikofers have been selling produce at the Emporia Farmers Market since about 1987 and were some of the first vendors I got to know by name as a shopper when I first moved to Emporia.
Harold's experience with local food goes back to his boyhood when his parents grew and sold strawberries to area residents and he and Naomi tell stories of picking tomatoes to supply the stores in Emporia from sunup till sundown.

Today the Brenzikofers have a high tunnel and two greenhouses on their farm. They have been able to sell fresh produce at the market all winter long with a variety of Romaine lettuces, spinach, carrots, radishes, and other greens. They sell a wide variety of fresh produce through the summer months, as well as fresh farm eggs, jams and jellies.

A peek at the operations side of the Country Flower Shed:
Harold Brenzikofer in his greenhouse, filled with garden starts for summer markets.

About half of the Brenzikofer high tunnel is filled with strawberries this year.

No water is wasted in Brenzikofer gardens. This hookup goes to drip hose placed along the rows of strawberries, beneath the ground cover. Brenzikofer's pup poses for the picture (I told her I was taking the photo of her.)

Blooms and baby strawberries!

In the second greenhouse, the twine will provide a climbing support for the cucumber vines and the dripline directly into each pot assures that water is not wasted.

Winter market shoppers will recognize these radishes peeking out of the soil.

Gorgeous flowers of Romaine lettuce, a staple at winter markets this year.

Buckets of spinach also grow in the second greenhouse.