The F.U.N. FARMily Fair
The fair is 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Fridays, at Karlin Family Farms, 3033 Kasold Drive.
For more information, contact 371-4700.
Danielle Vanderbilt has a garden stocked with winners — the foods she knows her husband and two young children will eat.
But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want more. She’s constantly looking for new ways to try veggies, without paying an arm and a leg for things her picky eaters wouldn’t touch.
She tried a CSA — a community supported agriculture group — where she’d get a box of produce weekly. That ramped up the influx of new veggies but didn’t increase the family consumption of new things, just the waste.
She tried the Farmers’ Market but found it too commercial for her liking.
Finally, she saw a link on a friend’s Facebook account that just made radical sense: the F.U.N. FARMily Fair. The fair is a a weekly barter market on the land of Karlin Family Farms, 3033 Kasold Drive.
“Honestly, I love the idea because I have a very small garden. I basically grow only the things my family would eat,” the Lawrence mom says. “And it’s a good way for me to try something different without having to plant it in case they don’t like it.”
The fair is the brainchild of Brady Karlin, who is hoping to supply not only a place for folks to come and trade for produce and other homemade items, but also learn a few things and have fun, too.
“We’re recruiting musicians and artists and crafts people and also educators, people who want to host a mini workshop during the fair,” says Karlin, who got the barter market idea from the rainbow-gathering movement, in which barter and gifts are used rather than currency. “Whether that be a medicinal herb walk or making compost tea workshop, or making seed balls, something simple that could be fun in an hour to just share with the community and increase the education.”
The markets run from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Friday and aren’t just for home gardeners. Karlin says attendees can bring anything handmade to trade, or they can donate money or labor in exchange for goods. It’s all in agreement with his definition of F.U.N. in the name — free, universal nourishment.
“Our broader mission is that we’re a sustainable education and demonstration center for permacutlure design, for organic agriculture, natural building, renewable energy, appropriate technology, healing arts,” Karlin says. “This is our bigger vision, so by receiving this organic produce that we grew and harvested, you have the opportunity now to donate to a larger cause. And also just giving the consumer or the customer or the friend or the acquaintance who come to receive these things, we’re asking them to value it. We’re not putting a price tag on it and saying that’s what the value is, we’re saying, ‘What’s it worth to you?’”
Caryl Hale, the friend whose Facebook update inspired Vanderbilt to attend, actually traded home brew for a print by artist Ashton Martin one week. She said that that trade really demonstrates the only less-than-easy part about the trading — determining the personal worth of an item.
“Typically what we’ve noticed with the barter market, the items others have brought, you value it at a higher value. To you, something you don’t have, you value it more. To Ashton, his prints might not have been that much to him. But to us, we’re like, ‘Are you sure you want to trade just for our home brew?’” she says. “It’s not very equal, but you have plenty of one thing, and so you’re getting what you want and put a higher value on something else. It’s really interesting to see what you can trade.”
In addition to the home brew, Hale has traded goods from her garden — spices, herbs, greens — and has received everything from grass-fed beef to goat cheese to potatoes to that piece of artwork. In addition, she says her three kids have a great time playing into the night while she and her husband get to talk gardening tips and tricks. Vanderbilt seconds that and says attending the weekly fair makes for a different feeling than just heading to the store or the market.
“It’s more personal,” Vanderbilt says. “It feels like you’re just sitting around chatting with friends. Plus there’s kind of a thing of going, ‘Oh, I’ll try that. You want to try this? Sure.’”