Your guide to Kansas City’s Farmers Markets
Kristina Stanley loves her job. As the recreation supervisor for the City of Overland Park and the Overland Park Farmers Market, she gets to meet a lot of people. The encounters that always make the biggest impact are the farmers.
“Being a farmer isn’t a job many of us have, but it’s one we all benefit from,” she says. “Most of us probably can’t name the farmer responsible for the asparagus, tomatoes and radishes populating our crisper — unless, of course, we’re shopping at a farmers market.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers markets have grown around 76 percent since 2008. There are now 8,286 markets listed in the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory — and new markets are popping up all the time.
Market growth is good news for the local food movement. Farmers markets not only grant shoppers access to the local and personal connections many are seeking but they also give farmers and small business owners the opportunity to expand their businesses. According to the USDA, farmers and ranchers receive less than 15 cents for every dollar generated in revenue through sales at traditional retail outlets like grocery stores due to processing, distribution and marketing.
That means, Stanley says, that when you shop at the farmers market, you’re helping to keep more than 85 percent of the income in the hands of the producer.
“Farmers don’t get into this and stay in this profession because it’s easy,” Stanley says. “They do it because they believe in what they do and care about their customers. They love seeing the shoppers return week after week and year after year. It’s pretty special when farmers have been doing this long enough to see second and third generations of families support them.”
Below are a handful of our favorite farmers markets in the area.
Overland Park Farmers Market
The Overland Park Farmers Market has been running for more than 35 years and welcomes more than 70 vendors on Wednesdays and Saturdays during market season. Get there early to get a good parking spot and take your sweet time wandering the stalls. There’s usually live music on Saturdays and plenty of vendors selling lunch items (check out Weiner Wagon for specialty hot dogs), so prepare to make a day of it.
To keep everything as local as possible, Overland Park Farmers Market vendors come from within a 125-mile radius. Some are as local as Overland Park, and some drive the 125 miles — about two hours — each way. For some vendors, 100 percent of their income comes from market day sales.
7950 Marty St., Overland Park, Kan. 7 am-1 pm Saturdays, April 20 through Sept. 22; 8 am-noon Saturdays, Sept. 28 through Nov. 16; 7:30 am-1 pm Wednesdays, May 22 through Sept. 25.
Brookside Farmers Market
Brookside Farmers Market has been around since 2003 and has the distinction of being an organic, local, vendor-only market. (Not all farmers markets are organic, and several have vendors who do not sell direct farm-to-consumer produce but instead purchase discounted produce from local big box retailers.) Vendors at the Brookside Farmers Market come from within a 100-mile radius. The market is small but mighty, and you can usually count on seeing the same producers selling their produce every week. Prices here tend to be a little higher than your average market — remember, everything is organic! — but nowhere near what you’ll pay at Whole Foods. The market usually has live music, too.
6321 Wornall Road, Kansas City, Mo. 8 am-1 pm Saturdays, April through October; 9 am-noon Saturdays in November.
The sprawling City Market, located in Kansas City’s River Market district, has existed in the same spot since 1857. Originally a site for commerce, horse trading, political rallies, revivals, medicine shows and circuses, the City Market today is one of the largest farmers markets in the metro, with over 150 vendor stalls during peak season. Vendors change frequently, but you can always bank on a sizeable selection of locally grown produce, fresh-cut flower bouquets, homemade jams, artisanal pasta and organic dog treats. There’s frequent live music, an antique flea market on Sundays and plenty of surrounding restaurants and coffee shops to kick up your feet and enjoy the energy of the market.
20 E. Fifth St., Kansas City, Mo. 816-842-1271. Open year-round, 7 am-3 pm Saturdays and 9 am-3 pm Sundays, April through October; 9 am-3 pm Saturdays and Sundays, November through March. Vintage Sale is year-round, 9 am-3 pm Sundays.
Parkville Farmers Market
This friendly grower-verified market is located in English Landing Park in downtown Parkville. If you’re in the Northland, this is a great, medium-sized market to get your staples. If you spot Living Dirt Ranch — a sustainable, GMO-free beef producer from Smithville — make sure to stock up on steak, short ribs and brisket. Santa Fe Trail Honey Farm from Raytown has fresh honey, and you’ll have a hard time avoiding the jumbo fresh cinnamon rolls from the Sweet Life bakery stall.
127 S. Main St., Parkville, Mo. 816-330-3279. 7 am-noon Saturdays, April 27 through Oct. 26; noon-4 pm Wednesdays, June 12 through Sept. 11.