As I said yesterday I was down in KC this past weekend. I attended the Farmer’s Market Saturday morning in Overland Park, KS, which is the town I use to live in when I live in KC. I thought I would discuss the differences as I saw them from Saturday.
The market in OP was in downtown OP and was really integrated into the area and part of an event. Not only were there produce vendors but also some people selling baked goods, honey and homemade pasta. The market here in CR is much more removed. It isn’t downtown and it’s basically just a building (especially for this purpose) that is full of people selling their products. There is no attempt at making it an event. It is mostly akin to just a normal store visit. (We do have a downtown market once a month this summer which was very similar to this one. Maybe it will happen more next year. It was more of an event.)
I noticed that the market in OP was selling produce from all over the country, not just locally produced produce. And in fact, because of the disgusting sprawl in KC even the locally produced items came from quite a long way a way. I did see some people selling things from their neighbor’s farms too. In CR everything is required to be locally produced and must come from that person’s farm. You can’t sell your neighbor’s produce (this rule seems rather harsh. Why have two people drive the same distance if one can?) and in my experience I’ve never seen any produce at the CR market from more than 50 miles away, let alone Colorado, Texas or Minnesota. I think this might have to do with differences in the soil to grow crops and also with the reduced sprawl around CR. (The whole state of IA has less people than just KC does)
I also noticed a difference in the size and appearance of the produce. All of the produce in CR is bigger, cheaper and from the few I tasted, more flavorful. I guess this might relate to the soil differences again? Or possibly the distance traveled by the produce to the market? I’m not sure. I was excited that they had a farmer’s market there at all. They do a poor job (as does CR) of promoting the market though. I lived there for 4 years and heard nothing about it. I was more familiar with the market in downtown KC, which was about a 30 minute drive from our house in OP.
The last major difference I found between CR and OP was that at the market in OP there was no meat or eggs being sold. I did see some honey but it was mostly produce for sale. Perhaps there are some state laws in place that I’m not aware of but it’s something to mention. I also thought the range of choices is larger in CR, but perhaps that is because of climate differences. It was noticeably hotter down there then up here.
Overall, I liked the festive event type atmosphere of the market in OP, but I liked the choices, prices and taste of the market in CR. If you really compare the reason you go to a farmer’s market, which is to purchase food, the market in CR is a better market. It’s just a lot less fun.