The Veggie Patch brings family values to Columbia Farmer’s Market

When Jim Thies and his daughters started The Veggie Patch in 1995, they weren’t expecting it to grow to as big of a project as it is today. Just over 21 years ago, The Veggie Patch was merely an FFA (Future Farmers of America) project for his daughters, and consisted of only a backyard garden with rentable plots for nearby neighbors. Today, the farm, which is still managed by the Thies family, has a total of seven acres just east of Boonville, Missouri. They sell their produce each week at the Columbia Farmer’s Market.

These photos were taken in one of the Columbia Farmer’s Market’s final weekends in their outdoor venue. At the event, there were many people doing their weekly shopping, bands playing cheerful music and many vendors selling merchandise.

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The Veggie Patch takes pride in their ability to stay open for business year-round. Produce such as lettuce and peppers are some of their most popular winter items.”It’s not so much growing, but rather keeping them alive,” The Veggie Patch owner Jim Thies said. “We just never quit growing.”

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Because The Veggie Patch is a family-run business, owner Jim Thies is heavily involved in its weekly activity at the Columbia Farmer’s Market. Here, Thies bags up a couple of peppers for a customer. He said he only sells the best because appearance is key.

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All members of the Thies family enjoy helping out on the farm. Here Jim Thies’ niece bags kale to make it easier for customers to find what they want. “No one’s here because they have to be here,” Thies said. “They want to be here.”

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The Columbia Farmer’s Market serves hundreds of people each week. The Veggie Patch is one of the favorite stops of many people who frequent the market. Guichao Hu and his mother (pictured above) come to The Veggie Patch often to get fresh produce.

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While The Veggie Patch honors agricultural education and helping out the community, the Columbia Farmer’s Market is one of their main sources of income. Here, a customer completes a transaction, handing over money to pay for the produce they just bought.

Self-Critique:
These photos turned out like nothing I would have expected going into the project. I originally had planned on continuing the work I was doing with Jefferson Farm and Garden, but with it being the beginning of the winter season, everything that they were doing on that farm had been discontinued until it began to warm up again.

I wanted to continue to capture something with a similar theme, so I decided to go out and get pictures of the Columbia Farmer’s Market. When I arrived at the site, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to photograph. There were so many options available. Almost immediately, however, I was drawn to a little booth labeled as The Veggie Patch. The people working there seemed friendly and there was there was an ultimately positive vibe around the place. I wanted to capture this friendly atmosphere in my photos.

In actually taking the photographs above, I had some difficulty finding variety in what I focused on. I felt rather intrusive taking photos of people as they were doing their weekly shopping, and with this being a new medium for me, everything seemed to be moving so fast. I also didn’t just want to take photos at random; they had to fit in a story. It took me a while to figure out what story I wanted to tell. I ended up settling with what keeps the business running and how the farm is family-run. If I were to go back and do this again, I would give myself more time to get to know the subject and truly capture their story. Perhaps I would have narrowed my topic even more.

Overall, I’m happy with how my photos turned out. The five photos that I chose to present on this blog use skills we talked about in class and are varied in subject. Nothing is repetitive and I feel that they do their part in telling the story that they were meant to tell.

 

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