Columbia Farmers Market

the farmers behind the market

The Veggie Patch: School Project Grows into Diverse Family Farm

In 1995, Deanna Thies began a project growing and marketing vegetables for Future Farmers of America (FFA). Her sister, Jana, joined the business in 1998, and the sisters expanded their sales and production of heirloom and specialty squash until they earned graduate degrees from the University of Missouri. Since then, their endeavors have blossomed into a full-time farm business for their father, Jim Thies.

In 2010, Jim retired from teaching high school agriculture education in Glasgow, Missouri, and committed to full-time production at The Veggie Patch. He and his wife, Paula, moved the farm to a six-acre plot in Cooper County, 15 miles west of Columbia. Deanna has followed in her dad’s footsteps, teaching agriculture education at Boonslick Technical Education Center. Jim fills in as a substitute for Deanna when she is out of town, and, in turn, she helps with the farm’s marketing. 

“She is still very active at Columbia Farmers Market, assisting me in sales and promoting our production and farm,” he said. Paula also helps out at the summer market, when she is not busy with her full-time job at the University of Missouri.  

The Veggie Patch brings the largest portion of harvested crops to the farmers market, and also sells to local restaurants, event centers, and caterers as part of the farm-to-table movement. “It’s fun. I like the market, and I’m excited about the future of the market.”

Although leeks and lettuce grow in his hoop house, a full “95 percent of what we produce is in open field,” Jim said. Most of the farming is done without the use of pesticides.

“We do this by constantly scouting our crops for pests and carefully evaluating what control measures need to be taken. If we do need to treat a crop for pests, we make every attempt to use approved organic-based products, but at this time we are not certified organic.” 

In 2014, The Veggie Patch started a CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture). 

“We provide our shareholders with a bountiful box geared toward their preferences and availability of products.”  

“I have been doing this for a long time,” Jim said, “and every day I see the beauty in the crops.” He enjoys doing a good job with the challenges that farming offers. 

In 2018, Jim purchased an additional 60 acres with plans to expand into production of more tree fruit, including apples, pears, and plums. 

For more information about the CSA, recipes, and a complete list of Veggie Patch fruits and vegetables, visit THEVEGGIEPATCHMO.WORDPRESS.COM. Customers can purchase items online through The Veggie Patch’s Square Store. Also online is more information about production and the farm. For announcements of products coming to market, follow @THEVEGGIEPATCHMO on Facebook and @THEVEGGIEPATCHMO on Instagram, and @THEVEGGIEPATCH1 on Twitter.

"95 percent of what we produce is in open field, and most of our production is done without the use of pesticides.”
-Jim Thies

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Columbia Farmers Market
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Photography by Drew Piester.