Here we are at a winery in Massachusetts. Between the samples of wine, we are offered some wine-tasting crackers which help cleanse the palate between wine tastings. Where did they come from? They came from halfway across the country in rural Kansas. It’s one of the healthy products offered by this innovative store in the heartland of the nation.
Last week we met Joel Gaeddert who founded Flint Hills Design in North Newton. His younger brother Aaron also operates a small business.
Aaron came to Newton to attend Bethel College, as had his parents and his older brother Joel. When Joel founded Flint Hills Design, Aaron worked for him during college and after graduation. In 2014, he had the opportunity to pursue a business of his own.
Newton had a local food cooperative that closed in 2000. After it closed, a couple of women bought some of the supplies and equipment and opened a bulk health food store of their own. It was called Prairie Harvest. They later relocated into a historic 1892 building in downtown Newton.
“Homegrown.” It’s nice to enjoy homegrown products fresh from the garden, for example. Today we’ll learn about a store which is providing lots of good products in a rural community. A key to its success is that the business itself is homegrown.
Jenny and Clint Osner are owners of Hired Man’s Grocery & Grill, Inc. in Conway Springs near Wichita. Jenny and Clint grew up and went to school at Conway Springs.
Clint became a certified welder. “I’m a teacher,” Jenny said. She got her education degree from Wichita State and earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. She also taught swimming and lifeguarding.
After the old grocery store in Conway Springs closed, Jenny and Clint decided to open a store themselves. “We did it because we believe in the community,” Jenny said.
Peanut clusters. Coconut bon bons. Peanut brittle. Chocolate cream fudge. Those delicious old-fashioned candies used to be a hallmark of the Christmas season. They still are, at a remarkable store in rural Kansas. This store offers those candies and much, much more as a special holiday edition of Kansas Profile.
Loren and Regena Lance are the owners of the Mildred Store in Mildred, Kansas. Mildred is in Allen County. The post office in Mildred has closed, so the mailing address is the nearby town of Moran.
Regena grew up here at Mildred, and Loren grew up 30 miles south. He is a self-taught musician and farmer. He was trained as a diesel mechanic and now has played country music all over southeast Kansas. Regena is a teacher and administrator. After earning her master’s degree online, she is dean of instruction at Fort Scott Community College.
Lance and Regena live near the community of Mildred. Brown’s Grocery, owned by a man named Charles Brown, was a mainstay in the community for many years. His wife’s name, by the way, was Lucille – sounds like Peanuts.
Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University writes Kansas Profile. The weekly posts highlight individuals or companies in rural Kansas who are making a difference to their community and state.
The Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development is a public / private partnership between Kansas State University and the Huck Boyd Foundation. The mission of the institute is to help rural people help themselves. Learn more at www.huckboydinstitute.org.