The dawning of May next week brings Herb Day and the opening of more farmers markets, including a new one on an urban farm in northeast Wichita.
Let the glorious horizon of summer start unfolding.
The annual Herb Day party, thrown by the master gardeners and the Herb Society of South Central Kansas, will be from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 3 at the Extension Center, 21st and Ridge Road. (See details on Page 2C.) The Kansas Grown Farmers Market is in the center’s parking lot from 7 a.m. to noon.
The Old Town Farmers Market will open for the season that day at First and Mosley streets, also from 7 a.m. to noon. And a new market, Genesis XII, will open at Pearson’s Farms, in the shadow of K-96 off 33rd and Hillside. It will be open the first Saturday of the month with vendors, including a flea market, and on weekdays in between for pick-your-own produce.
More weekday markets also will be opening soon – and one market will not be returning. Elsie and Pat Randleas, who run the Old Town market, decided not to have the Wednesday market at Normandie this year.
But the Lincoln Heights market at Douglas and Oliver and the Delano market at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium will both open May 7 – the Lincoln Heights market running from 7 to 11 a.m. Wednesdays, and the Delano market from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays.
The Lincoln Heights market, drawing from the College Hill and Crown Heights neighborhoods on either side of it, will be in its third year.
“That community so supports that market and that time,” manager Kristi Ivy said. “We have a lot of walk-up traffic.”
Among new features this year will be a woman who makes balloon animals and vendors selling homemade vinegars and a full line of candles, Ivy said.
The Old Town market on Saturday mornings will feature a kids corner where children can do a make-it-take-it craft from 9 to 11 a.m., a chef’s table where a local chef will do a demo with produce from the market at 9 a.m., and live music from 10 a.m. to noon.
The new market at Pearson’s Farms is a family endeavor that is attached to the nonprofit Genesis XII Learning Foundation. It expands a role the farm has played for years in educating children about where their food comes from, and adds to it with the farmers and flea market.
The outreach also hearkens back to the family’s matriarch, Addie Pearson, who used to drive around northeast Wichita and pick up children in her van, bringing them to the front porch of her farmhouse. There, now-retired Extension Service director Bev Dunning would teach the girls to sew, while the boys would learn a Bible story under a shade tree.
Addie Pearson’s now-grown children had the idea for the farmers market, and Dunning gave it a push of encouragement when she retired earlier this year, said Donna Pearson McClish, one of Addie’s children who is involved in the market.
“My brothers and I were sitting and talking about what was the next phase for the farm, and we thought, why don’t we do a farmers market? We gave a lot of produce to the food bank last year because we couldn’t move it,” Pearson McClish said. The market is in an area of food desert where people don’t have access to a grocery store or fresh produce, she said, and the market will help fill a void.
Four of her brothers are involved in the farm and market: Charles, Donald, Dean and David. Dean lives in the old farmhouse now. Pearson McClish goes over every day.
The Genesis XII foundation, which Addie founded in 1979, has brought tens of thousands of children from the Girls and Boys Clubs to visit the farm over the years, said the Rev. Charles Pearson, the brother who organized the visits. The foundation will now be collaborating with schools to help provide agriscience education about how food goes from farm to table, Pearson McClish said.
Proceeds from sales of the Pearsons’ produce will go toward the foundation. They plan to have other vendors selling produce and crafts, and a flea-market side that will carry antiques.
The market will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. or so on the first Saturday of the month. Lunch will be for sale: hamburgers and hot dogs, and, on May 3, a Baptist youth group will have a catfish dinner as a fundraiser.
The market also will deliver produce to senior citizens, and the pick-your-own hours will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturdays (on the Saturdays when the market is not open).
“The community will have a place to go and have fun,” Pearson McClish said.