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Farmers battle elements, other situations to produce goods

9/15/2012

By ABBY BELDEN

abelden@dailynews.net

The farmers market in the Orscheln parking lot was buzzing with activity shortly after 8 Saturday morning.

Four tables behind vehicles displayed a variety of homemade jelly, salsa, breads and vegetables that were available for purchase.

Each of those working a table mentioned how the hot weather took a toll.

For one of those, the weather was not the only challenge.

Larry Nichols, Alton, said he got a late start on planting this year because his wife, Pat, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer Feb. 19.

Nichols said for the next six weeks, he and his wife traveled to the University of Kansas Medical Center, Salina and back to Hays for treatment. He said his wife is doing better and added the delay in planting might have been a blessing.

Nichols said he normally seeds 1,000 to 1,200 plants in late February or March.

He said he was questioned on how late he planted, which was spread throughout mid-May to mid-June.

"I said, 'It has a better chance if it's in the ground than it does in the bag," he said.

The cooler weather might have made the difference.

"We picked our first beans last week, and we have a heck of a bean crop coming on -- and they are just loaded," Nichols said. "Other people's beans were trying to produce in that hot weather, and they got nothing. So this was kind of a blessing in disguise."

Nichols said he has lived through some hot summers in Kansas.

"I am a typical Kansas farmer. We have had rough years before," he said. "We will have rough years again, but in the mean time we are always optimistic there's next year," Nichols said.

For Karen and Pete Klaus, Victoria, and Cindy Dinkel, Hays, the heat and water restrictions in Victoria took a toll.

The trio sells an assortment of jelly, salsa and breads, but said the weather and only being allowed to water twice each week affected their garden, especially tomatoes. Pete said the cucumbers and the orchards were fairing well.

For Iva Maiers, Natoma, the cool September weather marked a turning point.

"Well, finally, after the severe conditions, we have some things to bring," Maier said. "Mostly what we have now is peppers."

Juliet Lallement, Ellis, said she stops after working out to see what she can find. She also said she is making an effort to eat healthy.

"I like the vegetables; they are larger than what you get at the store, and they are fresh," Lallement said.

Donna McKenzie, Hays, said she and her husband, Bryan, have been going to farmers markets for approximately four to five years.

Donna said she comes to the market to support local growers and to look for certain goods.

"It's nice to come out and see what everyone brought into town and visit with people," she said.

The farmers market season will wind down in mid-October, but Nichols said they were selling goods until almost Halloween last year.

The markets are in the Orscheln parking lot and in the Ashley Furniture parking lot from 8 to 11 a.m. each Saturday and from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.