Kansas Farm Food Tour 2018
So back in September, I had the chance to go to Kansas and check out farms with the Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Soybean Commission with a group of other bloggers, a farmer, and a dietitian. Not only had I never been to Kansas before, but I also had not been on many farms in my lifetime so the whole experience was very new to me and I had so much to learn from the farmers.
To start off the trip, I flew into Kansas City, MO on September 17th and we took off bright and early the next morning in a bus. After we did introduction, we learned more about what the Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Soybean Commission do and then we headed to Craig and Amy Good’s pig farm to see their operation, learn more about pigs, and eat lunch catered from Little Apple Brewery in Manhattan, KS.
The Good’s raise heritage hogs such as Durocs and Gloucestershire Old Spots along with cattle, soybeans, and corn. We got to see the pigs at the various stages of their lives and to see the different breeds of the specialty heritage hogs they have. I had no idea there were different breeds of hogs so getting to see them and learn more about what makes them different was an interesting introduction to raising hogs.
After the tour, we had an incredible meal made from some of the Good’s hogs that included Spotted Gloucestershire pork tenderloin, braised pork shanks, and currywurst along with a gorgeous beefsteak salad and an apple crisp. That was by far the best pork I have ever had!
The next stop was at Sawyer Land and Cattle in McPherson where they grow a variety of crops such as corn and they raise cattle. I got to take a ride in the combine and see what it was like to harvest crops first hand. Additionally, I learned what sorgum milo was – a feed crop that is commonly grown across Kansas that is a variety of beautiful colors.
To finish the day off, we had the best meal of my life at the Courtyard on Main in McPherson. I got to try a great apple salad, their amazing steak and au gratin potatoes, and a gorgeous strawberry dessert. I walked out of there so stuffed and happy!
To start off day 2, we headed out to the France Family Farm out in Marienthal. Amy France had been traveling with us as our resident farmer so it was really cool getting to see her farm for ourselves!
We popped over to see their soybeans and the combine before heading over to her house where she let the chickens out and showed us her pink tractor. That pink tractor was so fun!
After stopping and having a great lunch at Law’s Feed Store in Leoti, we headed over to Reeve Cattle Company in Garden City. I had never heard of a feed yard before and I found out that is where the cows are finished off before heading to be processed. I really enjoyed how they really tried to take advantage of what they had by growing the corn that goes into ethanol production, producing the ethanol, using what is leftover from the ethanol to make feed for the cows, and using the waste from the cows as fertilizer for the corn. It was great to see how little went to waste in such a massive scale operation.
Our last stop for day two was at Forget-Me-Not Farms in Cimarron. We learned about the process the milk takes to get from the cow to the shelves of grocery stores. My favorite part of that stop was seeing the “dairy-go-round” in action. I think I could have just watched it go round and round all day with the cows just coming on and off.
Of course, I loved getting to just check out the cows too. They are pretty adorable! We finished off our day at Crazy Mule in Greensburg for dinner. I tried their blackberry jalapeno brie grilled cheese and was thoroughly happy with it!
Our final day started off at the world’s largest hand-dug well, a record I did not even know existed! I really enjoyed the mueseum there with not only the history of the well but also information about the tornado that had destroyed the town a few years back.
Our next stop was at Dalebanks Angus in the Flint Hills where Matt Perrier talked to us about taking care of the prairie and cattle. He also talked to us about how antibiotics are used and why hormones help in producing cattle more efficiently. A fun fact I learned that lettuce and broccoli have more hormones in them than beef does!
Our final stop for the trip was at Juniper Hill Farms to see Scott Thellman’s farm. He grows a variety of different vegetables that go out to be sold at places such as Whole Foods. One of my favorite things we saw there was all of the different pumpkins and squashes such as the warty pumpkins below. They were so fun!
The picture below is of his greens such as arugula growing. He also talked to us about the differences between organic and traditionally grown crops and why he chose to do organic farming. It was a different perspective on farming from some of the other farmers we heard from which I think really rounded out what I learned on the trip nicely.
Scott’s dog was so sweet and hung out with us while we were talking. I just loved this picture so much that I had to share it!
After we toured the farm and got to ride in the veggie bus, we had a meal prepared for us by a local restraunt using many items straight from Scott’s farm and from other farms around the area. For appetizers, we had burrata, baba ghanoush, and rosemary polenta bread and for dinner we had beautiful cuts of beef along with potatoes and salad.
Overall, I learned more about Kansas and farming than I ever dreamed I would. I feel as though I came out of the trip with a new found respect for everything farmers do and go through to grow the crops and meats that we eat on a daily basis. Many of the pre-concieved notions I had about things such as the use of hormones and antibiotics in meats were corrected with information right from the source. The conversations that I got to have with the individual farmers over meals, in combines, or on the bus were some of the most interesting parts of the trip for me because hearing their experiences, thoughts, and opinions was so enlightening on what farming is really like is really something that I couldn’t get anywhere else and I will treasure it. Thank you so much Meagan and Jancey for putting this whole trip together!
Make sure you check out the other fantastic bloggers who were on the trip with me!
- Shashi at Savory Spin
- Vaishali at The Kitchen Docs
- Jessica at A Farm Girls Kitchen
- Silvia at Garden in the Kitchen
- Lisa at Low Carb Yum
- Anna-Marie at Beauty and the Beets
- Leanette at Funtasic Life
Disclosure: My trip and expenses were covered by a collaboration between Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Soybean Commission as part of an initiative to connect influencers, farmers and vets together. As always, all thoughts and ideas found here are entirely my own.