Archive for Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Couple eager to cultivate farm market at old depot

February 26, 2003

A Tonganoxie couple plans this spring to transform the former Tonganoxie railroad depot into a colorful farmers' market, complete with crafts and fresh produce.

Thad and Monica Rose, who rent the 130-year-old depot from Steve LaForge, plan to operate "The Old Farm Market" from 6 a.m. to noon Saturdays from May through November.

"I'll have tables on the inside, hopefully for crafters, that kind of stuff, and I'll have places outside for truck farmers," Monica Rose said.

Some of the produce will be her own. Monica, who until two months ago worked as a labor and delivery room nurse at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, is now a stay-at-home mother. She's always loved to garden, but now with more time at home, she's stepping that up.

"I'm starting a berry farm," Rose said. "We're just putting the plants out -- raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries -- so hopefully those will all be sold at the farm market."

She expects a small crop the first year.

"But hopefully the following year it will be much more productive," Rose said.

Spaces will be rented for $10 each, she said.

One local couple that operates a booth at the Lawrence farmers' market, also expressed interest in the Tonganoxie market.

Kris Grinter has participated in the Lawrence market for about 12 years. Her husband, Ted Grinter, has worked all 27 seasons of the Lawrence farmers' market. Kris said it's likely they'll also give the Tonganoxie market a try. Kris sells a line of homemade soap, and Ted brings in metal art, sunflowers and sweet corn when it's in season.

"I know Ted would definitely be interested," Kris said.

The beauty of a farmers' market, Kris said, is that it doubles as entertainment.

"In Lawrence, a lot of the people in the downtown community love to walk to the market on a Saturday morning," Grinter said. "There's lots of things to do -- go get a good cup of coffee and stroll through the market -- it's a social event."

Not surprisingly, Grinter said, the most popular booths are the ones that sell fresh produce.

Hot food, when KDHE regulations can be met, is also a draw, Grinter said, noting that a sausage and biscuit booth was popular in Lawrence.

"That's the way the wives could get the husbands into the market because they knew they could get a sausage biscuit while their wives shopped," she added.

Grinter said it's likely vendors who can't get spaces at the Lawrence market would be interested in checking out Tonganoxie.

"There are a lot of vendors who are on the waiting list in Lawrence," Grinter said. "The person who had the stall the year before has first dibs on the stall the next year and you have vendors who have been there the last 10 or 15 years and they're not going to give up their stall."

Monica Rose said she hopes by next year to have 20 booths lined up. One of them, starting this spring, will be run by her father, Ray Morgan, a Jarbalo honey producer. Morgan also will help Monica grow fresh produce to compliment her homegrown cut flowers and future berry crop.

Rose said she hopes vendors, and shoppers, will be interested.

"So far the people that we have talked to around town are really excited about it," Rose said. "The challenge will just be to get the producers in."

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