By April Graham
When the store shelves were empty – many people turned to local producers to fill the gaps.
They’ve been here for years producing grass-fed beef, pork, free-range chickens and eggs, milk, farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, honey, and more – but unless you were looking for them, you likely never noticed. While farmers markets are open seasonally, you can go straight to the source year-round for a wide variety of products.
The past few pandemic months have highlighted weaknesses in our primary process of producing and distributing food, and are a great reminder why supporting robust local networks of farmers and producers year-round is important to the strength and health of our small towns. Even in “normal” times, there are tremendous benefits to buying your produce locally:
Flavor: Fresh fruits and veggies taste better. When you buy them direct from the farm, they can be picked at peak ripeness. The variety to choose from is also better as more delicate heirloom varieties that don’t get sold in stores can often be found on small farms selling directly to consumers. Grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, and other meats also often taste better (and can be healthier for you).
Community: You can meet your farmer and see first-hand the care they take to grow your food and the effort they put into offering high-quality products. The local farmers and producers I spoke with for this article expressed how much they appreciate our support. Your business matters and you feel it the moment you walk
through their doors.
Sustainability: The farmers and producers in this article care about quality and sustainability. Many offer humanely raised grass-fed beef, pasture raised pork, free-range chickens, antibiotic and hormone free meats, and fruits and vegetables grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
Pleasure: Buying local feels good. Enjoying a scenic drive to the farm in the fresh air and sunshine, perusing tables full of brightly colored fruits & veggies, selecting the perfect cuts of quality meat, and getting to know your local farmers is an experience that can’t be beat. You’ll find yourself appreciating your food more and getting excited about your next visit.
I recently spoke with several local producers about their businesses, how they’ve been impacted by the pandemic, what’s available, and what we can do to enjoy more of their delicious offerings.
It’s still a little early in the season so lettuce, spinach, and asparagus have been the primary vegetable options but that season is wrapping up. Look ahead to mid-June and July when a wide variety of fruits and vegetables will return to the markets.
Including more fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily meals can help you be healthier and happier. If you want to try new vegetables or find new recipes, try searching vegetarian recipes online or join vegetarian groups on Facebook. Vegetarians are experts on eating plants and offer lots of easy, creative ways to enjoy them such as BBQ Cauliflower Bites and Best Healthy Coleslaw Ever (no mayo).
Demand for meat has increased and smaller farms are gaining new customers. This significant increase in demand has led to some shortages on certain cuts. Kenny Barham with Barham Family Farm in Kearney explained that it takes about 7-8 weeks to grow chickens, 4 months for hogs, and 18 months for beef. Many producers offer the option to buy beef and pork in bulk (usually in increments of a quarter, half, or whole) but waitlists for this option are already quite long with as many as 30-80 people on waitlists around the region.
The other challenge for meat is on the supply side as meat processors are booking up much further out than they usually would this time of the year. So even though it takes 7-8 weeks to grow a chicken, it may be difficult to get the chicken processed and available to customers quickly. Tom Parker of Parker Farms in Richmond mentioned that this is a challenge he is also facing. He has plenty of beef walking around in the field but no one available to process it for months.
Despite these challenges – there’s no need to panic. There are still a variety of meat options available. Though it may be more difficult to find certain cuts of steak, chicken breasts, or whole chickens at some of the local suppliers – it’s a great time to branch out and try something new. Checkout a few of the local options below and learn more about what they have to offer.
Local Farmers and Producers
This is not a complete list but features some of the larger, established options in Excelsior, Richmond, Liberty, Kearney, and Trimble. There are a variety of smaller farms and individuals selling farm fresh products that can be found easily by asking around.
Be Whole Again Farm – Excelsior Springs, MO
15659 Highway Y, Excelsior Springs, MO 64024
Owners: Scott and Rachel Moser
Phone: (816) 379-6455
Be Whole Again Farm offers 100% grass-fed raw A2 milk, grass-fed beef, pasture raised pork, and free-range eggs. Due to increased demand during the pandemic, they’ve run low on their own meat supply but have been able to get some beef and pork processed recently. They have also partnered with Fed From the Farm in Sedalia, MO to continue to offer beef and pork options to customers.
Barham Family Farm – Kearney, MO
16800 NE 128th Street, Kearney, MO 64060
Owners: The Barham Family
Phone: (816) 365-2445
Barham Farms has been around for over 100 years. They sell to started direct to consumer sales 12-14 years ago at farmers markets. When they started receiving requests from some restaurants, the demand was sufficient to allow Kenny Barham to farm year-round.
Barham Farms offers all the standard beef, chicken, turkey, and pork options as well as lamb and duck for the more adventurous. They’re currently low on whole chickens and chicken breasts, but have legs, thighs, drumsticks, and wings. They also have plenty of ground beef, bacon, and sausage. Lamb is fairly seasonal and they’ll have more at the end of July.
At their Wildflower Dreamz General Store, you can also find fresh baked bread and pies cookies quiches from Bloom Baking Company, and they carry seasonal produce such potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, and sweet corn, which are expected later in June and July. While there, visit their petting farm to snuggle a variety of friendly animals.
To ensure adequate social distancing, please wait for until a few people leave the shop if there are more than six people inside. Visitors are welcome to wear a mask if they feel comfortable doing so.
Cary’s You-Pick – Kearney, MO
21703 NE 148th St, Kearney, MO 64060
Owners: Scott Kelly & Cary Odell
Call (816) 679-6404
Cary’s You-Pick started about 6 years ago and is a must-try experience that offers you-pick fruits and vegetables on the honor system. Their Facebook page describes it best:
Our you-pick is unique in that it is on the honor system. That’s right, you-pick, you-weigh, and you-pay all on your own, well you can use a calculator. We are open 7 days a week from sunrise to sunset. Your first stop is the shed at the front of the garden, we call it the scale house. The scale house has listed what produce is available, prices, harvest baskets, scissors to cut produce, bug spray, sunscreen, the scale to weigh your produce, bags to take produce home, and the box to put your cash or check in, checks must be made out to SCARS Ag. We also have plenty of room for RV turn around.
Currently, they’re between seasons but in the next few weeks, look for onions, radishes, tomatoes, and corn. Later in the summer there will be zucchini, eggplant, peppers, okra, and melons. As the weather cools down in the fall, lettuce and spinach will be available again.
Cary loves helping people experience harvesting fresh vegetables in a peaceful country setting. Every year they’ve been open, they’ve won over more and more new customers because once people have the real, fresh experience it’s hard to go back to store bought. Fresh-picked vegetables taste better and keep longer, and the prices at Cary’s are reasonable.
They don’t use pesticides or man-made fertilizers. They use nature methods such as beneficial nematodes and neem oil to combat grubs and insects, and manure and fish emulsion for fertilizer. They donate surplus produce to the Kearney Food Pantry to help others in need.
For more info, contact Cary through Facebook messenger or text. There’s a bridge out near their location but can still be reached by the most direct route: from Excelsior, take 92 Hwy toward Kearney and turn left on Cordell. Follow Cordell south around several turns to Cary’s You-Pick.
The Upper Cut KC – Liberty, MO (the Kansas City side of Liberty)
9769 N Cedar Ave, Kansas City, MO 64157
Owner: Mariah Kinkade
Phone: (816) 781-8694
The Upper Cut KC offers beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and specialty meat products. Notably, they are one of the few establishments that both raise and retail prime Akaushi beef in the Midwest. Akaushi is a Japanese breed that has a higher amount of marbling and is more tender and flavorful as a result. Their all-natural, antibiotic and hormone-free Akaushi beef and Angus Beef is raised at their farm in Richmond, and they dry age their beef for a minimum of 21 days. They also have bison steaks and ground bison. Meats are cut to order so that you get exactly what you need.
The store is open and they’ll also do curbside pickup on request.
Crooked River Meats – Richmond, MO
404 W Main St, Richmond, MO 64085
Owners: Tom & Paula Parker
Crooked River Meats offers a variety of beef, pork, and chicken products as well as grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free Parker Farms products. Parker Farms has been selling direct to consumer since around 1999. Demand has increased significantly during the pandemic but they’re keeping up with most inventory, even though it’s been tough from time to time. Parker Farms stock is very low at the moment but it’s worth waiting for. As the local processors are booked up, it could be up to a year for special orders such as a side of beef.
Crooked River Meats features a meat counter with a variety of fresh cuts. They also have a grill and carryout lunch specials available Tuesday – Friday.
Die Brot Pann Bakery – Richmond, MO
14711 MO-13, Richmond, MO 64085
The bakery and shop offers freshly baked breads, cinnamon rolls, cookies, and pies but also has a shop with baking supplies, spices, nuts, jams, and more. They also have a deli counter with meats and cheeses. They still have their regular supply of all items. They’ll have fresh vegetables and fruits as well when the season picks up in a few weeks. Die Brot Pann is open Tuesday – Saturday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
CLM Premium Goats and Goat Milk Products – Richmond, MO
36327 W 84th St, Richmond, MO 64085
Owner: Cheryl Marrant
Phone: (816) 509-5949
CLM specializes in raw goats milk and goats milk products such as soap and lotions, but also offers seasonal produce and an assortment of jellies, salsa, pickles, and other delights on occasion. You can buy your very own Nigerian dwarf goat(s) seasonally. Visits to the farm are by appointment and you can call Cheryl to schedule.
Moyer Farm – Richmond, MO
12634 Highway 14, Richmond, MO 64085
Owners: The Moyer Family
Phone: (816) 500-1965
Moyer Farm offers grass fed and finished beef but their vegetables are the main attraction at their shop in Richmond. Depending on the season, they sell green beans, tomatoes, strawberries, watermelons, cantaloupe, okra, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, yellow squash, and pumpkins and gourds.
They also have raw honey, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and a variety of all-natural products from other farms including elderberry juice, salsas, pickles, marinara sauce, and jams. They’re adding a U-Pick option this year, for those seeking a more hands-on grocery shopping experience.
Note: I didn’t have the opportunity to speak with directly with Moyer Farm while writing this article. Please check their website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information.
Paradise Locker Meats – Trimble, MO
405 W. Birch St., Trimble, MO 64492
Owners: The Fantasma Family
Phone: (816) 370-6328
Paradise processes meats humanely for a variety of small farmers in Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa and retail the products in their store. They offer a wide range of beef, pork, poultry, and exotic options (alligator, kangaroo, and more) as well as cured and smoked meats and sausages. You can buy beef and pork by the whole, side, or quarter as well which offers tremendous cost savings if you have the space to store it. They also offer processing services if you prefer to raise your own dinner.
Note: I didn’t have the opportunity to speak with directly with Paradise Locker Meats while writing this article. Please check their website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information.
Additional notes on food supply chains:
When store shelves were empty, we blamed each other for hoarding. This assumption was reinforced by stories such as the man who collected 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer. While there certainly were instances of hoarding, the bigger issue causing the temporary shortages centered on our supply chains – the process of producing and distributing the products we depend on. For more on this issue, checkout this article on what everyone’s getting wrong about the toilet paper shortage. The large national supply chains that we rely on have some opportunities for improvement to be better prepared for the next crisis.
Though the large national supply chains are critical and will continue to be our primary provider of pretty much everything, supporting local farmers and producers helps diversify our food supply options so that we can be more agile and resilient during times of crisis. It also helps strengthen our local communities and foster deeper connections between the people in them. While it may not be feasible to purchase everything you need locally, purchasing what you can get locally is a step in the right direction. So take a beautiful drive, meet your local farmers and producers, and enjoy the incredibly delicious things they have to offer!
About the Local Author:
April Graham is the Director of Talent Development for the Bloch Executive MBA program at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. Prior to joining UMKC, April spent fourteen years in the hospitality field, holding positions in operations and sales management at the Elms Hotel and Spa in Excelsior Springs and the Hotel Phillips in Kansas City.
April serves on the Communities of Excellence – Economic Vitality Task Force. She has been a member of the Excelsior Springs Chapter of Business Women of Missouri for over 8 years and hopes to contribute to a growing, supportive network of women leaders advancing the Excelsior Springs community through education and civic engagement.
April holds an MBA with concentrations in Finance and Real Estate from UMKC and a bachelors degree in International Business and French language from William Jewell College. She is a graduate of Excelsior Springs High School.
In her spare time, she enjoys adventuring, baking, and gardening (with varying degrees of success). She’s also been torturing her family for a year and a half by trying to learn to play the fiddle.
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