Meet the vendor: Wohletz Farm Fresh

Meet the vendor: Wohletz Farm Fresh
Posted on 09/12/2018
Jane and Jerry Wohletz standing in a fieldWohletz Farm Fresh is run by the Wohletz family in Lawrence, Kansas. Although known for u-pick strawberries and blueberries, they grow much more than berries. The Wohletz farm is an annual pilgrimage for many families during berry season, but if you don’t have the time to go pick, you can always stop by the Lenexa Farmers Market for their wonderful produce. They sell a variety of in-season produce like tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes, sweet onions, berries and flowers.

Jane and Jerry Wohletz grew up as “weekend farmers.” They would go to their relatives’ farms on the weekend to work. When Jane and Jerry first got married, they knew they wanted to raise their kids on a farm, so when they found their dream farm in 1993 they bought it. They built a house and moved in with their children in 1996. 

Although initially starting with cattle, the family began to plant produce in 2001. At one point, Jane and Jerry tried to grow numerous different crops but, after having their soil tested, learned that not everything grows well on their land. As they moved forward, the family decided to focus on crops like berries, tomatoes, and peppers that would grow well in their soil.

At their first farmers market, Jane took one card table, sixteen yellow squash and three zucchinis. At the end of the day, she and the kids came home with $16, shocked anyone would buy from them. 

Over the years, their farmers market selection has grown, along with a reputation for selling quality produce. In fact, the family takes so much pride in selling only the highest-quality produce that one year, they chose not to pick an entire field of strawberries that grew large and beautiful but had no flavor. They did not want people to eat those strawberries and think that was how all the family’s berries tasted.

One of the many farming practices Wohletz Farm Fresh uses to ensure this great quality is the use of crop covers to protect the land, suppress weeds and give organic matter back into the ground. They also pick daily to ensure the best flavor.

The youngest Wohletz child, Madeline, is a high school senior and can often be found manning the family’s booth at the market. Although she could not tell the difference between a weed and a flower when she was younger, Madeline now creates and sells beautiful flower arrangements, known as “Madeline’s Flowers.” She saves the money made from her flowers to help pay for college. 

When asked what they like and dislike about farming, Jerry says he dislikes the lack of control farmers have over the weather, but Jane says she loves being a part of family traditions. Although the strawberries can take a lot of work to grow, it makes it all worth when she sees families return year after year to pick the strawberries or blueberries together.

Published Sept. 12, 2018