Fresh and Local: Farmers market season begins at the lake

Mitch Prentice, Joyce Miller, Vicki Wood
A produce stand sits full of vegetables at the Camdenton Farmers Market.

Lovers of fresh produce, rejoice! Farmers market season will be kicking off this weekend around the lake, with a majority of local markets beginning within the first few weekends of May. No matter which side of the lake you live on, there is an option for you. Here is a rundown of where you can go to shop, and what to expect:

Camdenton Farmers Market

The Camdenton Farmers Market will begin on May 1 and will run at its normal time from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. 

Market coordinator Sandy Nelson says that the market has a full spectrum of vendors ready to go this year and continue to obtain new produce as the summer vegetables come into season. For meat lovers, there will be vendors selling grass-fed beef, pork, lamb, goat and more. Nelson says she is thrilled with the amount of produce available, as that is what she sees as the main importance of a local farmers market.

Even so, she is also excited about the crafters and artists present at the market in 2021. This includes vendors such as Gail Mosher of Country Primitives, who has been bringing her decorative flair to primitive items for 25 years. There will also be woodworkers, potters and more to showcase their art and crafts throughout the summer.

Nelson personally owns Box Turtle Ranch and also sells at the market. She offers a range of warm-season crops, and specializes in chili peppers and tomatoes. Having both the vendor and coordinator's perspective, she says that 2020 wasn’t as bad as many might expect. She says that the outdoor nature of the market helped keep people assured of their safety, as well as the many sanitizing and cleaning options available for patrons. She expects that 2021 will be even better, as many residents prepare for what could be a record summer for tourism. 

“We have a wonderful community in Camdenton and we always appreciate the support,” Nelson said. 

Osage Beach Farmers Market

The Osage Beach Farmers Market will begin on May 8 and will run from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m every Saturday through the beginning of fall. 

The Osage Beach Farmers Market offers an eclectic selection of vendors with everything from slow-roasted coffee and honey to baked goods inspired by European roots and produce grown here in the region. Ask any vendor and they are eager to share their stories and experiences. Meeting the people who come to the markets, answering their questions about homegrown produce and products is all part of the market experience. 

Markita Marikova-Thompson, a newcomer to the market, said she is looking forward to sharing her creativity and skills as a baker. Originally from the Czech Republic, Marikova-Thompson now calls the lake area home. She is hoping to introduce market-goers to homemade pastries. She will be sharing recipes that her family made when she was growing up. 

“I’m from the Czech Republic and will bring homemade European pastries,”  Marikova-Thompson  said. She is looking forward to sharing her love of baking and creativity with folks who stop by the booth on Saturdays to check out her baked goods. Marikova-Thomspson will be featuring sweet kolaches and savory goods, like freshly made cheese and prosciutto rolls that she fondly refers to as “delights.” 

Firefly Valley Farms will be at the market offering the perfect fresh roasted coffee beans to pair with the baked goods. Dax and Stephanie Beaman are also newcomers to the Osage Beach market. Their farm on the banks of the Little Niangua River in Roach, will offer a variety of farm fresh products, including their fresh roasted coffee beans and locally produced honey. 

“We are so excited to be able to bring our coffees and other farm grown treats to our neighbors at the lake. We love sharing our passion with our lake family,” Stephanie said. “Weather willing,  we will also have strawberries, apples, pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apricots. We also have a small supply of orchard honey and farm fresh eggs.” 

Stephanie believes their bestselling item will be their Sumatra coffee. She recommends coming early or ordering ahead of time. 

“I love it when people try our coffee and experience what coffee really should taste like. Nothing compares to a super fresh cup of coffee. We pride ourselves in providing the finest quality, most ethically sourced green coffee beans, too,” she said. 

While Buckeye FarmZ is a familiar name at other markets, this will be their first year in Osage Beach.  Owner Dalton Connell said Buckeye FarmZ prides itself on bringing the best from their farm. 

“We sell pretty much any produce that can be grown in our local Ozarks from asparagus to tomatoes and spinach to potatoes. We also produce some wonderful chicken, beef, lamb, and Non-GMO pork. All raised on pasture from day one to finish,” Connell said. “Tomatoes are by far our biggest seller. Everyone loves a nice big juicy tomato to cut up with some fresh bacon and lettuce for a Sunday BLT after church.”

Laurie Farmers Market

The Hillbilly Fairgrounds in Laurie is home to a new weekly venture and the Laurie Farmers Market manager hopes it's here to stay. Donna Batlinger opened the market three weeks ago and is bringing some quality vendors from the Westside. Both businesses along with other local farmers are at the market on Friday afternoons from 3:00 - 8:00 p.m. at the Hillbilly Fairgrounds in Laurie.

Coyote Creek Farms is one such producer who farms and butchers Non- GMO, antibiotic-free pasture-raised Berkshire pork and Freedom Ranger chicken. A variety of cuts are available at the Laurie Farmers Market weekly including bacon, ham, sausage, whole broilers, and wings. Chris and Connie Matthews also sell their frozen dozen packs of scones in a selection of several flavors to take home and bake. The Matthew's scones are featured at coffee shops around the lake such as Higher Grounds in Camdenton. 

The Licorice Guy in Gravois Mills is new to the Westside but not a novice to the candy business. Lexi Kirk moved to the Gravois Mills from Iowa recently bringing her family's branded recipe for licorice with her. The Licorice Guy is in over 50 outlets nationwide including Florida, Ohio, and 13 other states. Her booth will be present at lake area fairs and festivals this year. Along with the ever-popular black and red licorice, Kirk offers cinnamon, blue raspberry, chocolate, and green apple. 

Additional vendors are needed. Call Donna Batlinger at 573-374-8776 or 573-836-5280 for more information.

Eldon Farmers Market

The Eldon Farmer’s Market is located at Rock Island Park in Eldon. They will be open every Friday from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. beginning April 30th and continuing until September. Coordinators Lori Ellis and Gabrielle Branstetter are anticipating 15 vendors to participate each week. They say that some weeks we will have more than others. 

At the Eldon Farmer’s Market, all items sold must be homemade or homegrown. Shoppers can expect to find freshly picked vegetables, fruits, honey, baked goods, flowers, handmade aprons, pot holders and more.