Kansas Farmers Union and Kansas Beginning Farmers Coalition will host a Central Kansas Family Farm Specialty Products Tour, on Saturday, October 11 in the McPherson and Newton, KS areas. KFU and KBFC representatives were very impressed by the diverse number of producers and products available in central Kansas, and felt it would be an ideal location for an educational tour for members and the public. It is our hope a quality tour like one that can be offered in central Kansas will inspire beginning farmers interested in raising specialty products across the state.
Our day will start at 10:00 AM at Johnstown Farm, located at 1365 Quivira Rd. McPherson, KS 67460, which prides itself in producing beef that is fully grass finished. Johnstown Farm meat is labelled as natural meat with no added hormones and animals are not fed any starchy feeds, i.e. grains such as corn, milo, or soybeans. Antibiotics are used only if a health issue arises. Grass finished beef from Johnstown Farm is high in Omega 3 fatty acids and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid). The farm’s animals are solely bred, live, and gain weight on forages–grasses, pastures, triticale, etc., and hay.
The farm also features Grammy’s Pumpkin Patch, which is planted in late May and early June with a variety of seeds. This year the patch contains approximately six kinds of pumpkins. There are also decorative gourds of all kinds ripe for picking, plus pumpkins for pie-making. Each year, most of the patch is planted by a state of the art pumpkin seed planter designed and created specifically for Grammy’s. Other maintenance and weeding are still done the old fashioned way – by Grammy and her staff.
Grammy’s offers a variety of packages for groups such as the barrel train ride, story time, music and movement time, nature walk, autumn craft, pumpkin play activities, mini milo maze, and so on. Grammy and her staff are certified educators with expertise in early and elementary education. They are experienced in leading lessons in math, literature, writing, and science. Grammy’s Lil’ General Store is stocked with general merchandise and refreshments including farm fresh eggs, grass finished beef, fresh cinnamon rolls, homemade cookies, coffee, hot cider, and autumn crafts and décor. For more information on the farm, go to the website.
Plan to join the group for a potluck lunch at noon. KFU & KBFC will provide pulled pork sandwiches, table service, and drinks. Please bring a side dish to share.
The next stop on the tour is Janzen Family Farms (JFF), located at 15076 NW 180th Street Newton, KS 67114, a diversified livestock and grain operation that utilizes sustainable practices, including organic crop production. JFF sells 100% grass-fed beef from their Angus herd of about 40 head that is pastured year-round on native prairie, cool-season grasses and winter forage and stubble fields. JFF also produces and markets certified organic wheat, milo, and soybeans, and freshly stone-milled wheat flour from an on-farm micro-mill, Henry Creek Flour Mill.
Janzen Family Farms (JFF) is managed by KFU member Norm Oeding. Norm began working for JFF in summer 2007, after having farmed organically nearby for more than 10 years. He is known for Norm’s Flour and his home farm Spring Creek Ranch, as well as bread baked with Norm’s Flour and sold under the Little Red Hen Bakery label. Norm is the one planting, harvesting, feeding cattle, and doing other day-to-day operations, including selling at farmers markets. He takes a lead role in the decision-making process on the farm and lives in the Janzen farmhouse. For more information, go to the farm’s website.
After visiting Janzen Family Farms, tour attendees will have the opportunity to view KFU board member Jason Schmidt’s nearby livestock operation Grazing Plains Farm. Jason Schmidt, a 5th generation farmer from rural Newton, moved back to his home community three years ago with his wife Carol to carry on the family dairy farm that his parent have operated. Prior to returning home, Jason gained experience with a variety of farming systems having worked with organic vegetable farmers, grass-fed beef producers, and conventional grain and livestock farmers in the U.S. and abroad. Jason has a Master’s degree in Plant and Environmental Science from Clemson University researching grass-finished beef. Before moving back to the family farm, Jason worked for the Kansas Rural Center as a field organizer for the Clean Water Farms project.
Currently, Jason and his parents operate a 75 cow dairy, and Jason has a small grass-fed sheep flock. Jason is slowly taking over the family dairy as he and his parents generally follow the New Zealand share milking model where each year he gains a larger share of the dairy income as he buys out his parents. As he takes over the family dairy, Jason envision new paths for the dairy including transitioning to managed grazing with Jersey cows instead on Holsteins, exploring value-added markets such as direct marketing and organic, and diversifying farm income.
Following the stop at Grazing Plains Farm, we will head into Newton to tour Prairie Harvest at the corner of 6th and Main Streets in the oldest Mercantile Building west of the Mississippi. Prairie Harvest offers seasonal local produce and a wide selection of Kansas-made products.
Please RSVP for this free event HERE, or RSVP to Nick Levendofsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (785) 527-0941 by Tuesday, October 7 if you plan to attend the tour, and also if you plan to join the group for lunch.