Lawrence area farm taking a break for storm cleanup

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A regionally popular farm east of Lawrence known for flowers, vegetables and its fall pumpkin patch plans to close for the month of August to clean up after a May tornado that took out a machine shed, the butterfly house and five of the farm's seven greenhouses.

The 40-acre Pendleton's farm is a mainstay at the Lawrence Farmers' Market and popular with restaurateurs in the Kansas City area.

At this time most summers, Karen and John Pendleton would have seeded the nectar in the butterfly house, started preparing for the annual pumpkin patch and begun preparing for school field trips in the fall, the Kansas City Star reports .

Instead they're taking a break to remove all the scrap metal, wood and other debris as they rebuild after the May 28 EF-4 tornado.

"It will be a months-long process," Karen Pendleton said. "Hopefully, it's not going to be years."

No one was killed in the tornado, but it leveled homes and uprooted hundred-year-old trees.

The Pendletons are harvesting crops they planted before the storm to sell at the farmers' market and a nearby nursery.

"We're trying to pick every single flower to get sold so we have income to sustain us later in the year," she said. "And being busy has kept our minds off other things we don't want to think about."

The Pendletons plan to sell vegetables next year, but have canceled this year's fall pumpkin season, fall butterfly attraction and Christmastime open house. They might return the farm to its 1980s roots, when it was open to the public only six weeks a year.

"We are living in limbo right now," Karen Pendleton said. "We can't make decisions until we know about insurance."

The couple is humbled by the support they've received. Volunteers came out the morning after the storm and supporters raised thousands of dollars to help.

"We're very blessed with lots of good friends and lots of good customers," John Pendleton said.

Jasper Mirabile Jr., owner of Jasper's Restaurant in Kansas City, said he has known the Pendletons for 15 years and uses their asparagus for his tableside mozzarella dish each spring.

"It's a working farm, a real Kansas working farm," Mirabile said. "And the last thing you want to see is a farm close in Kansas."

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com