People in the community will soon be able to enjoy one of their favorite activities as the Leavenworth Farmers Market prepares to open its 2019 season May 4 at Haymarket Square in downtown Leavenworth.

By RIMSIE McCONIGA
rmcconiga@leavenworthtimes.com


People in the community will soon be able to enjoy one of their favorite activities as the Leavenworth Farmers Market prepares to open its 2019 season May 4 at Haymarket Square in downtown Leavenworth.


Mayor Jermaine Wilson will ring the traditional opening bell at 9 a.m. and the 312th U.S. Army Band from Fort Leavenworth will play for attendees.  
Kristi Lee and the Leavenworth Ambassadors from the Leavenworth Convention and Visitors Bureau will be at the Welcome Table with information about all the upcoming events in the area.


The market has a strong group of farmers who support the Leavenworth community each year.
“A trip to our market is one of the best ways to reconnect with where your food comes from,” says Joy Kromer, Farmers Market board member.  “It is the place to try new foods, like a Charentais melon, Bianca sweet peppers or black cherokee lettuce. If you have not tried one of these, you need to come to the market and talk to the farmers that grow them. We are pleased to welcome U Farm as a vendor this year. Mark and Donna Olson will be offering microgreens and other unique products on Wednesdays and Saturdays this season. Another new vendor is Farmer Jones. Debi Jones will be providing spice rubs, dog treats, quick breads and other pastries at the Saturday market. A returning vendor is The Sweet Life, who offer a wide variety of homemade pies, cinnamon rolls, sugar-free and gluten-free granola and other baked goods. Also back is Brad Pietzyk with Anxious Goat Coffee Roasters who will be returning with his wide variety of roasted coffee products. Anxious Goat Coffee Roasters will be at the Wednesday and Saturday markets.”
All produce sold at the market is grown within 50 miles of Haymarket Square. Joy Kromer says studies have shown the average distance food travels from commercial farms to your plate is 1,500 miles.  


“These fresh vegetables and fruits have a unique flavor profile that only happens when they are grown close to the selling point,” she said. “Our locally grown produce does not have to withstand long-distance shipping. They are picked at the peak of flavor and most are picked within eight to 12 hours before coming to market.”
The market works closely with organizations and programs that provide food benefits to residents.


“Each week, Leavenworth Catholic Charities gathers fresh produce that has not been sold from the market,” says Joy. “Close to 7,000 pounds of fresh produce was donated to Leavenworth Catholic Charities for their food pantry in 2018 to support low-income families in Leavenworth. The market supports the seniors in Leavenworth by participating in the Senior Citizen Farmers Market Program, sponsored by the state of Kansas. Working with the Council on Aging, qualified senior citizens receive $30 worth of coupons to be used to purchase fresh vegetables at the market.
“Leavenworth Farmers Market also participates in the Double Up Food Bucks program, a healthy food incentive. The market farmers and vendors are using this program to support people who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). People with the SNAP card can swipe their cards at the Welcome Center and buy SNAP tokens and receive a matching number of Double Up Food Bucks tokens. A person with $25 of SNAP will receive another $25 of Double Up tokens for a total of $50 that can be used at the market for fresh fruits and vegetables.”


The market not only offers fresh fruits and veggies, but many unique products are also featured two days each week. Local potters Susan Nelson and Becky Johnson offer hand-thrown pottery items including flower vases, coffee mugs, serving pieces and art objects.
“All of these are great gifts ideas,” says Joy.


Other tasty accompaniments to a healthy farmers market-sourced dinner include vendors who offer cheese, wine and unique jams and jellies.
“Debbie Bass, one of only seven licensed cheese makers in the state of Kansas, offers a wide variety of cheeses at Debbie’s Cheese Board including fresh mozzarella, Gruyere and Parmesan,” says Joy. “These cheeses are just a few selections she makes here in Leavenworth. She also offers European butter and a variety of cheese dips. Jefferson Hill Winery, with Don and Maxine Bryant, has a great selection of Kansas-made red and white wines, plus some great special gift ideas. All their wine is made and bottled from grapes grown on their farm.”  


Joy says a wide selection of  jams and jellies are available each week. Mary Stahl makes an apple butter habañero jam which is perfect with crackers. Mary and Morgan Bean, from The Bean Patch, offer a carrot cake jam and a ruby red grapefruit marmalade that Joy says everyone raves about.


The Leavenworth Farmers Market gives local residents the opportunity to build and strengthen community bonds.
“When our customers buy from our farmers, they are re-establishing a time-honored connection between the eater and the grower,” says Joy. “The grower can give the customer information on when the seeds were planted, how long it takes to ripen and even suggestions on how to best prepare it. When you buy at our market, a lot more of your money is going toward supporting individuals in the Leavenworth community and family farms.”


The local community is also helped by the farmers market because all vendors are required to pay Kansas sales tax on their sales each year. This helps Leavenworth when the city receives the city sales tax revenue based on total sales from the market from the state.
The Saturday market hours are 7 a.m. to noon and the Wednesday market will be open from 3-6 p.m.

 
“The market is very fortunate to be located under the pavilion at Haymarket Square,” says Joy. “Because it is covered, the market is open rain or shine and there is also a public restroom, maintained by the Leavenworth Parks and Recreation Department, available for our customers on the grounds.”  


Ample parking at Haymarket Square is available and the market is handicapped accessible and great for parents with strollers.  
“By supporting the market, the citizens of Leavenworth are making a statement that they care about the local economy, family farms and having access to fresh locally grown foods,” says Joy. “It is a win-win for everyone.”