Beginning in June at Edgerton
hen Andrew Clements and Nicole Richardson graduated from college, they followed the crowd and lived near the city, enduring long commutes to jobs in suburban Johnson County. Although they had barely launched their careers, the couple soon realized they already had tired of the daily grind and longed for an “escape from the business of the city,” Clements said.
That’s when the couple traded the asphalt underfoot for a lifestyle that was popular a few generations ago: they now live in an old farmhouse on 40 rolling acres in northern Platte County. From the windows in their 1890’s-era Edgerton home, they look out on a pasture of grazing cattle, two horses, a chicken coop, miniature donkey and they have two dogs. The 31-year-olds are so happy they can’t help but think that other millennials might enjoy the slower pace of life–if they only knew.
Clements said he learned that smaller farming communities are using farmers’ markets as an advertising tool. Although they arrive seeking fresh produce, some folks leave with a newfound impression of small-town, country living. Therefore, Clements and Richardson are hosting Edgerton’s first ever Northern Platte Farmer’s Market and Exchange Saturday, June 19, and every other weekend through Aug. 28.
The market will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Edgerton’s Park, 503 Aller Ave. and is being held in conjunction with the Northern Platte County Area Chamber of Commerce. The first market will be coupled with a biscuit-and-gravy breakfast hosted by Edgerton Pioneer Days, an annual fall festival celebrating the town’s founding.
The market is about more than introducing young people to the advantages of rural living, the couple said. The community staple also will help local vendors, which include an array of talent from artists to jewelry makers, honey producers and those who grow vegetables, Clements said.
The market’s mission statement, linked to the chamber’s Facebook page, spells out other objectives: “to help eliminate food waste, fight community hunger. educate the youth and general public about local and sustainable agriculture and help build our local community.”
Edgerton won’t be the only town that benefits from the market. Although the surrounding towns of Dearborn and Camden Point are separate in many ways, residents collaborate and help each other as if they live in one larger community, Clements said.
“We do a lot of mutual aid,” he said.
The North Platte School District provides a good example-the elementary school is located in Camden Point while the middle school is found in Edgerton and the high school in Dearborn. The towns have suffered economically since the recession of 2008-’09 and have been hard hit by COVID so he hopes the farmers’ market will be a welcome boost to the local economy.
In addition to the farmers’ market, Clements and Richardson have jumped into community service in other ways. Clements works for a large grain feed supplier and is a volunteer firefighter while Richardson opened an insurance agency in town where she insures local residents and their farms. She recently won a seat on the Edgerton Board of Aldermen.
Clements said several factors helped him carve out time each day to work on community building strategies. His employer encourages community involvement and allows him a flexible work schedule, where he currently works from home. In addition, by giving up his daily commute, he gained nearly two hours each day.
Richardson added they enjoy working and living in the same community so they can tend to their animals throughout the day.
The couple were agriculture majors when they met at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville and admittedly were interested in the prospects of rural living. Richardson grew up on a farm just outside of Weston and was active in the local Future Farmers of America chapter, where she participated in livestock competitions “since I could walk.”
She said such work is “highly rewarding-to be able to feed people locally is something I’ve always wanted to do.” Living in Edgerton feels like she has moved back home, where she has known some residents her entire life. She added that living in the small community allows the couple to establish roots and offers “opportunities that are wide open, where you can make it how you want it.”
The couple plans an entire working farm sometime in the future and soon will begin raising turkeys.
The couple also hopes to introduce those younger than themselves to their way of life, so they’ll consider a future in farming and sustainable gardening. Clements said the prospects are tantalizing.
Clements said, “We could give kids something to be passionate about outside of video games.”