Back in May, I went on a tour of some of Wichita’s community gardens, now spread all across town.
I was impressed over and over again by the dedication of the leaders of these gardens, trying to tame rough-edged urban areas and grow something wholesome for themselves and their neighborhoods. The gardeners’ tenacity pretty much has to mirror that of their plants to survive Wichita’s climate these days.
Now that the days of growing are winding down, you can get your own look at some of these gardens and at a couple of area farms that are extending the locavore movement to more of us. They will be on the Wichita Area Community Garden and Farm Tour this weekend, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The free tour is part of the national Food Day campaign to support local gardens and farms and healthy food.
To mark the day, six community gardens in Wichita and two farms – one in Derby and one in Cheney – will be open for the tour. It’s sponsored by K-State Research and Extension, Our Local Food of South-Central Kansas, the Health and Wellness Coalition of Wichita and the Wichita Diatetic Association.
The tour gives people the chance to see inside gardens they hear about but would not otherwise stop to check out. In addition to being inspired by the gardens and farms, you can look into the possibility of getting your own plot in a community garden to grow your own food and to find opportunities to buy local food.
“Bringing local to your door” is the aim of Clint Brauer, owner of MG Honor Farms in Cheney, which is on the tour. This is the second year for Brauer to farm the land named for his grandmother after moving back to Kansas from California. He grows organically for a handful of restaurants (the lettuce in your salad at Caffe Moderne probably came from him) and delivers produce to individual customers’ doors as far as the edge of Andover every couple of weeks.
Brauer says he has been learning a lot the past couple of years, crediting his customers, including chef Tanya Tandoc, for helping him, and he plans to increase his offerings in the future, including selling food from other farmers, including meat. This weekend on the tour, people can see his operation at 36706 W. 39th St. South in Cheney and sample his greens served with a variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegars that the farm sells from Olive Tree in Kansas City.
Elm Lane Farm in Derby also is on the tour and grows lettuce – year-round, in greenhouses.
“It’s a brand-new thing for us,” said Karen Hull of Elm Lane, at 12431 E. 55th St. South in Derby. “I really enjoy the growing part.”
She and her husband, Mike, are originally from Massachusetts. They sell through the Kansas Grown Farmers Market on Saturday mornings (shop there until Oct. 27), and at GreenAcres Market and sometimes Piccadilly.
You can find both farms on Facebook, and Elm Lane has a website: www.elmlanefarm.com.
The community gardens on the tour range from the Arc Rows of Sharin’ (whose future plans include raised beds for wheelchair access) at 2919 W. Second St. to Planting Peace in the Community Garden at 20th and Shelton. The latter is a collaborative effort of Safe Streets Wichita, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and the Sedgwick County Extension Service. The garden there turned out beautifully despite two years of drought, and the neighbors have monthly potlucks in it.
Admission to all the gardens and farms is free, and tickets will be available at each location. If you download a ticket from www.hwcwichita.org, you will be entered into a drawing for garden equipment.
Fall Fling Outdoor Market
Another locavore-inspired event this weekend will be the Fall Fling Outdoor Market at Food for Thought, 2929 E. Central. The event will feature nearly 30 local vendors selling crafts, food, vintage finds, repurposed items and more from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
“As a locally owned business, we like to spotlight other local vendors,” Melinda Foley, owner of Food For Thought, said. “There are a lot of undiscovered treasures in our city.”
This weekend offers an ideal opportunity to unearth some.