For 6 years, Liz Graznak of Happy Hollow Farm has farmed in the Jamestown area, on loamy soil along the Missouri River. The USDA certified organic farmer offers a Community Supported Agriculture box (CSA), which has grown from 19 members, the first year, to 80 members this year. About one third of her CSA customers pick up their weekly share at the Columbia Farmers Market on Saturdays, where Graznak sells to her market customers as well.
This is her fourth season at this farmers market. Previously, she sold her vegetables at the Orr Street Farmers and Artisans Market on Sundays. She moved to the Columbia Farmers Market because “I was bringing home too much produce.” The larger market—with as many as 3,000 customers in the summer months—immediately enhanced her produce sales.
Graznak, who lives on the farm with her wife, Katie, and their daughter, 3½ -year-old-Sylvia, plants cover crops and no-till beds on 5 of her 7 tillable acres. In early spring, she starts seedlings in her greenhouse. She plants lettuce, cilantro, beets, fennel, radishes, arugula, spicy greens, fresh ginger, tomatoes and peppers in her three high tunnels, as well as chard, kale, peppers, “and many other veggies in a number of low tunnels.” She also grows, basil, green beans, bok choi, broccoli, broccoli raab, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, cantaloupe, watermelon, celeriac, cucumbers, dill, eggplant, endive, escarole, fennel bulb, garlic, turnips, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, parsley, summer and winter squash, spinach, sweet potatoes and tat soi.
A small flock of heritage ducks roams near a fresh water spring, and free-range chickens keep company with insect-loving guinea hens in a large, fenced grassy area. Chicken eggs go into her CSA boxes, and duck and chicken eggs are also available in the spring at the farmers market. This year, she is also selling flowers at the market, and adding flower bouquets to her CSA baskets.
Graznak, who holds a masters degree in plant breeding, was drawn to farm life after she joined a CSA while in graduate school. “I fell in love with the farm,” she said. She learned the ropes, working as a farm intern for other farmers, including Dan Kuebler of the Salad Garden in Ashland. “I had a great internship. I learned how to do this from other farmers.”
After working at a nursery for 5½ years, Graznak saved enough money to buy her farm. She built a barn on the property with lumber milled on the land, and recently added her third high tunnel. She plants more vegetables each year, with the help of employees and interns. “I’m committed to offering good internship opportunities,” she said.
Graznak provides free food, housing and living stipend for her interns. They learn about soil health, planting, harvesting, greenhouse management, marketing, and farming equipment. “They are with me night and day for seven months,” she said, including Saturdays at the Columbia Farmers Market.
Graznak looks forward to Saturday market. “We have a fantastic market in Columbia,” she said. “I don’t get to leave the farm much, so the farmers market is where I get my social interaction. I see loyal customers every Saturday. I enjoy the challenge of setting up a beautiful display, the challenge of helping 10 people in line when it is busy, and getting to know the people that we feed.”
For more about Happy Hollow Farm, the CSA, and recipes go to happyhollowfarm-mo.com
Liz Graznak grows a lot of arugula. This is her favorite way to serve it in a salad.