What do you call a happy farmer? A Jollyrancher! I only had heard rumors of the Kirksville Farmer’s Market, which typically are held each Saturday in autumn. But these whispers in the halls couldn’t quite capture the experience, so I promptly decided that I would attend this agricultural gathering to better understand my quirky college town.
It was a gorgeous day, a melodious concoction of breeze and sun. Booths lined either side of the streets as buckets of tomatoes and pumpkins greeted each passerby. That’s when I met Jim Hawkins, “Like the boy from Treasure Island,” he said. Jim sold a vegetable called Pattypan Summer Squash. The Pattypan looked like a hybrid of a baby pumpkin and a flower, or maybe an enlarged toy top. Pattypans come in yellow, green and white.
“You can’t find these in a grocery store!” Hawkins assured me.
Looks like Jim Hawkins finally found his treasure!
Next, I was introduced to Steve Salt.” I liked Steve from the moment I spotted him. He was festively dressed in a button-up shirt made from a fabric covered in colorful peppers — not real ones, mind you! He attributed the festive outfit to none other than his other half. (It doesn’t necessarily have to be this word for word, but something to this effect)
“My wife sewed it for me,” he said. “It’s made out of curtain fabric.”
That just blew my mind!
At Steve’s booth, I learned about the Chinese Bittermelon. It looked like an exceedingly wrinkled cucumber — not the most aesthetically appealing vegetable. But you know that saying, “It’s the inside that counts?” Well this vegetable sure knows it. When the bittermelon is cut open, its bright pink seeds cause one to tilt his or her head in appreciation. For some crazy reason only the gods could think of — or maybe it can be blamed on the similar environment — the traditionally oriental bittermelon grows very well in the American Midwest. Salt informed me that this is true for many oriental vegetables.
The last farmer I spoke with called his business Farmer Jay’s. His real name? Kris Kringle. Okay, maybe not. Jason Sandner sold pie fillings, pickles, relish and, the star of the show, homemade salsa! The Farmer’s Market had clowns twisting balloons into ferocious beasts of the jungle, a pen of baby ducklings, hand-sewn quilts and so much more. Being there taught me something new. I love that Kirksville carries on a tradition like the Farmer’s Market. It truly brings people together.
*I promise I’m not making any of these names up. Farmers just happen to have wicked cool names.