There is a question that comes in to the garden hot line over the course of the year that is always a little different, but with a familiar ring. "Where can I find __?" The fill-in items range from plants to cowpeas to pumpkin patches.
Where would you look if you wanted to find one of the above? Maybe you are already familiar with the pumpkin patches in the area, but you have a relative from the South coming to town who really wants fresh, local black-eyed peas for dinner.
I wish I had the perfect solution. I wish I could tell you that you could look under pumpkins in the yellow pages. I wish it were so easy, but you and I have the opportunity to make it easier.
The best solution to being able to find these locally available items is getting to know local growers. There are several options, although I do not recommend stopping at farms uninvited or calling people randomly from the phone book.
The easiest way to meet growers is at a farmers' market. Try visiting the Tuesday or Thursday evening markets in Lawrence or, of course, the Saturday morning market. Baldwin City also has a farmers' market on Saturday mornings, and there is the Perry- Lecompton market on Friday evenings in Perry and Sunday afternoons in Lecompton. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information about the market.)
Another opportunity only comes once a year but offers a chance to get out and see the farms. The Kaw Valley Farm Tour is an opportunity to visit, tour and meet the owners of 15 local farms. The event is the first weekend in October each year, which happens to be this coming Saturday and Sunday. If you can, pick up a ticket and see what is out there.
A third way is an online directory called "Growing Lawrence." The searchable lists includes members of the Lawrence Area Horticulture Producer's Association, which long ago expanded to include just about all things local.
There are many other online directories available with information on some of our local farms. As the local movement continues to grow, so will the availability of information.
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. You can always ask. The really cool thing about growers is that they like to help each other out - so if you visit the orchard and they don't have what you are looking for, ask the owners. If they can help you, they will.
- Jennifer Smith is the Douglas County Extension AgentHorticulture for K-State Research and Extension. The Garden hot line is available at 843-7058 or email@example.com.