Folks flock to family farm to gather greens
As much as the boosters of Edwardsville may try to promote it to out-of-towners, there's one annual draw that doesn't require so much as a sign.
For the last 20 years, Bush Farms, 11300 Kaw Dr., has offered fans of mustard and turnip greens and sweet potatoes the chance to pick their own, at bargain prices.
This year there were about four acres of greens and about four acres of sweet potatoes.
The greens cost $2 for however much can be fit in a regular-size plastic grocery bag, and the sweet potatoes cost $10 for a half-bushel.
George Batts and Ernest Rogers came from Kansas City, Mo., to pick some of each.
"We come every year," Batts said. "My wife cooks them."
Rogers said of mustard greens, "They make a good meal."
Batts and Rogers grow their own vegetables at the Kansas City Community Garden, but come all the way to Edwardsville because "you can't beat the price for the amount you get."
People come from Missouri to pick the greens, Chris Bush, co-owner of Bush Farms said, because no one else in the area grows them, and there are more people in Missouri with Southern heritage in their families -- and mustard greens loom largest on Southern menus.
An actual Southerner was among those picking on Tuesday morning. Ruth Easterwood, who recently moved from Georgia to Kansas City, Kan., said "I came down for the experience."
Easterwood said mustard greens are still a big staple in Southern cooking. She said the way to cook them is to wash them then throw them in a pot with smoked turkey to cook for a while, and add salt and pepper.
Margaret and Bobby Westmoreland drove from Raytown, Mo., to pick greens. "There's other places to go, but they don't have as much," Margaret Westmoreland said.
Westmoreland's method for cooking greens jibed with Eaterwood's, and said the recipe came from her husband, who was born and reared in the South.
The do-it-yourself picking season began in mid-September and will go until Nov. 1, Bush said. Then, whatever is left of the greens will be "disked under" -- turned over for compost.
The greens may help to make up for a lackluster year for the Bushes.
"It's been a drought year," with half the normal yield for corn, and sweet potatoes "way down," Bush said.
"Until September, we hadn't had rain for a long time," she said.
But since September, she said, the "rain's been great."