August 15 2019

We’ll Miss You, Jean!

The first Sunday in September will be your last chance to buy eggs, pork and chicken from KJB Farms.

KJB owner Jean Mattis, who takes your empty egg cartons and writes each sale down in a ruled notebook, has been a fixture at the Market since it opened in its current location in 2001, and she was a vendor at the Market’s Cannery and Wegerzyn spots, too. She and her family are handing over their KJB Farms booth — which started out in only about 10 feet of space and with just a few coolers — to Waynesville-based Carroll Creek Farms, the Market’s current Saturday beef vendor.

Mattis, who will be 79 in December, says she’s been ready to retire for some time, but she couldn’t just close up shop. “I didn’t want to leave until we found someone to take it over and someone who had the products we have,” she says. “I’ve worked too long and too hard to get people to buy local meat.” Mattis says she’s always been passionate about helping people understand that “food doesn’t grow in the back of the grocery store.”

Mattis says that KJB — K for her husband, Ken, J for Jean and B for her late son, whose last name was Brubaker — will still grow corn and soybeans but probably won’t raise pigs and chickens any more. “We’re slowing up,” she says, adding that none of the family members is able to take over a full farm operation.

For Jean “slowing up” sounds pretty busy. She says she’s got lots of projects — from upholstering to painting to sewing — to fill the hours she’s been spending at the Market. She may even pull out her mother’s loom and learn to weave, she says. “I can’t just sit around and do nothing.”

Jean says the Market has been a vital part of her family’s business, because it’s really the only way a small farmer can sell directly to the public. And she’s going to miss it. “We’re one big happy family,” she says. “I’ve met some fantastic people who come every week. I’ll be back as a customer. Not every week, though.”

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