Marcus Monroe has been farming off and on since he was a young boy. “I began helping my parents plant and maintain their garden, and also helping my father with his Hereford beef cattle,” he said. Early on, he experienced “an almost pathological desire to plant things,” he said.
With his wife, Pam, and two of their sons, Daniel and David, he found the perfect venue into which to channel his gardening mania — Manitou Farm, which sits in northern Moniteau County, near Jamestown. Both the name of the farm and county are phonetic spellings of the word for “the spiritual and fundamental life force” used by Algonquian groups of Native Americans.
Life is abundant on Manitou Farm. “If you walk around my farm, there are places where all the greenery in view was planted by me.” He plants fruits, vegetables, landscaping plants, as well as shrubs and trees for wildlife habitat. “You name it, I have planted it.”
Marcus began selling at Columbia Farmers Market in 2004, when another market vendor and fellow state employee, Kenny Duzan, invited him to do so. After retiring from a long career managing construction projects for the state of Missouri, he expanded his fruit and vegetable selection “to maintain a more constant supply of products at the market,” he said.
Grown on the farm are edible honeysuckle, gooseberry, blackberry, blueberry, goumi, Asian pears, American and Asian persimmons, jujubes, mulberries, figs, rhubarb, cherries, pawpaws, phenomenal berries, heirloom tomatoes, kale, okra, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and herbs — as well as numerous other crops. “I always strive to offer my customers unusual products, and the most tasty fruits and vegetables in as many colors as possible so as to make my offerings attractive and inviting.”
In addition, Marcus offers dried fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, hickory-smoked items, sourdough starter, handmade bar soaps, and an extensive collection of dried hot peppers at the market throughout most of the year.
All Manitou Farm products are grown using organic practices. Marcus finds satisfaction in sharing the fruits of his labor with customers who understand and appreciate the work that goes into producing quality food grown without the use of chemicals. He enjoys “the experience and atmosphere of the marketplace,” he said, along with “the camaraderie and friendship of his customers and the other growers and vendors.”