There were three vendors at the Rolla Downtown Farmers Market last Saturday braving a stiff northern wind and flurries.
Patrick and Dena Jenkins were selling dressed, pasture-raised, whole chickens.
“This year we will have some turkey and Khaki-Campbell and Welsh Harlequin duck,” he said.
Jenkins also had shiitake mushroom logs on display that were about 2.5 feet in length and 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Buy a log and you can grow your own shiitake mushrooms. These are oak logs were inoculated with mycelia last spring, so this year, mushrooms will grow on the log. He sells two different sizes and charges $25 or $50 depending on the log size. Jenkins says you can “shock” the mycelia into growth, so [for example], “every two months, after harvest, add water and they’ll grow again.” You can get 50 to 75 pounds [of mushrooms] out of a log. Very few people know what these are.”
Jenkins enjoys selling his produce directly to the public. He says it takes a lot of perseverance.
“You’ve got to be dedicated,” he says.
He adds, “the hard part is educating people to pay $3.50 per lb. [of meat] instead of 99 cents per lb. We have a lot of people that are really loyal that come out to buy farm-fresh food—it’s getting more popular.”
He also sells duck eggs and with a little luck, he will be providing buyers with goat cheese. He says any of the dairy goats make good cheese like the breeds Nubian, and Alpine.

JoAnn Aud from Houston was bundled up in coveralls and a scarf. There was snow on her four-wheel drive vehicle. “We got four inches of snow last night,” she offered. The Los Angeles native used to be a chocolatier at Disneyland, so she had a large spread of chocolate on display such as English toffee and different fudges. Imagine peanut butter fudge dipped in milk chocolate. She also sells beef jerky, eggs, pork and forsythia cuttings. The brown eggs come from Rhode Island Reds and Whites. She raises hogs and got started with the barter system.
“I traded 100 chickens for two porkers,” she said, “and I built the pig pen myself.”
She loves it here.
“For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m home.”

Terry Meier was ready with a joke at the third table. He is the impetus behind the winter farmer’s market. He was raised in Creve Coeur, but that was before the high rises came to town, he says. He lives between Summersville and Houston (Eunice). He sells mostly eggs, fresh Cornish hens and pork, but also displays breads, jams and jellies. He will sell vegetables at the market in the season, but today, he had four and five pound dressed hens on display. “A lot of your birds with large breasts are dry [once they’re cooked], he explains.
“My wife bakes them in the oven and even after they have been reheated, they still have a lot of moisture,” he says.
He loves the farming life. “Both of my grandfathers farmed,” he explains. They sold produce in St. Louis. One of those  grandfathers, Charlie Neff, always had the first tomatoes of the season, so he was a popular attraction in early spring at the market. He was also popular with the gangsters in the 1930’s that would sometimes hideout in St. Louis. “Creve Coeur Lake was the overflow from the Missouri River and it was here that gambling joints thrived that would attract the underground element.

Terry says the Downtown Winter Farmer’s Market is open from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, weather permitting.