Last chance to buy from Farmers' Market

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Loretta George/Tribune photos Ronnie Brown sells end of season produce at Tuesday afternoon's Fort Scott Farmers Market on Skubitz Plaza, just in front of the Fort Scott National Historic Site. The market season ends Saturday at noon.

As another season of the Fort Scott Farmers' Market winds down, some vendors reflected on the ups and downs of the past several months.

Local vendor Ronnie Brown, who has been involved with the market the last 11 to 12 years, said he thought the season was fairly "average" as far as customer turnout.

"I think people lost interest for awhile," he said. "And for awhile we didn't have a lot of produce due to the wet weather. I think some people just lost the habit of coming."

Loretta George/Tribune photos Chet Bower sells his end-of-season tomatoes at Fort Scott's Farmers Market on Tuesday. The market, located on Skubitz Plaza in front of Fort Scott National Historic Site, ends it's season this Saturday at noon.

Turning out good crops for the market depends on the weather and fluctuations in the weather this season - mainly a lot of wet weather - have sometimes made production difficult, Brown said.

"This is probably my roughest year, production-wise," he said. "It's been a rascal to keep anything growing this year. It's all weather-related."

Linda Bower, another longtime market vendor, said she and her husband, Chet, who are typically known at the market for their prize-winning tomatoes, have also had problems this year due to rainfall. The couple have run a booth at the market for more than 15 years.

"We lost about a third of our tomato plants due to rain," Linda said.

Linda said the varieties of produce that vendors have available varies throughout the season.

Brown said during the market's busiest periods this season, it had about 12-14 vendors operating booths. On an average day, there are usually six to eight vendors.

Linda also said turnout for her booth was "average." She said she has seen many regular customers this season who come from the local area as well as out of town. She said the market draws several people who come to town to see the Fort Scott National Historic Site, and overnight campers.

"I thought it was a good season overall as far as participation, vendors and customers," she said.

Linda said the most popular produce purchased at the Bowers' booth included zucchini, squash, onions, cucumbers, and of course, tomatoes.

The last market of the season is scheduled to be open from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Skubitz Plaza. Linda said the market will run as normal although vendors will be handing out treats to trick or treaters in the area for the Halloween parade and festivities scheduled that morning.

The dust will barely have time to settle from this year's market before organizers gather to start discussing plans for next year. Linda said members of the Fort Scott Farmers' Market Association, which sponsors, organizes and conducts the market, will meet the first week of November to review the most recent season, discuss pros and cons, and make plans for the next market season, which will begin in May.

Each year, the market operates from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays from May to October at Skubitz Plaza.

The market regularly features seasonal, locally-grown fresh produce, farm-fresh eggs, meat, jams and jellies, baked goods, as well as arts and crafts. The market also hosts various community events organized by different groups and organizations throughout the season.

Brown and his wife, Beverly, run R&B Vegetable Farm located at 1269 Birch Road near Hiattville. Ronnie Brown is known especially for his many varieties of pumpkins available but he has other produce, including watermelons and green beans.

The Bowers run an operation at 1550 215th Street.