SEAN STEFFEN/THE MORNING SUN photo
Trent and Lindsey Kling, Pittsburg
Trent and Lindsey Kling, Pittsburg, believe that there’s a connection between distance and flavor. That’s why their jams and jellies are made with fruits and berries they’ve grown themselves.
“Taste is so different when it’s local produce,” said Mrs. Kling.
Her husband is the event organizer for ESPN 99.1, and she works in the Love Bubble store at Meadowbrook Mall. Together they do radio broadcasts of local sporting events. Together they also operate Kling Family Orchards and Produce, creating classics such as strawberry, blackberry and peach jam, and some more unusual items such as habanero jelly.
“We make about 15 different kinds when it’s all said and done,” Mrs. Kling said.
Jam and jelly making had been a family tradition, and the young couple, married in October 2009, decided to try their hand at it.
“Last year we started taking requests and sold several hundred jars,” Kling said. “We had people ordering by the case for Christmas presents, and got pretty busy around September, October and November last year. This year we’re trying the Pittsburg Farmers Market, and we love the people there.”
“Everyone has been so friendly and so helpful, especially when we were setting up,” Mrs. Kling said.
A new product they’re debuting is a mixed berry jam. The Klings have also experimented with mulberries and with persimmon marmalade, a seasonal product available in the fall.
“Persimmons grow wild around here, and they are a little different,” Kling said. “They’ve got an astringency, but a sweetness, too.”
True to their belief in local produce, all the fruit used for their jams and jellies is grown in Kansas, either by the Klings themselves or other growers.
“We have 100 fruit trees planted and 200 berry bushes, plus a sizable vegetable garden,” Mrs. Kling said.
“We will also be selling vegetables at the farmers’ market in the next month.”
She said that they do not label their produce as organic.
“People ask us about that, but you have to go through a long process for that, and it’s very costly,” Mrs. Kling said. “It’s also very difficult with the pests that we have around here. Our vegetables are pesticide-free, but we do use some spray on the fruit trees.”
The couple currently grows on four acres in Frontenac, but hopes to expand.
“The eventual plan is to get another 10 acres or so,” Kling said. “I’ve always wanted to get back to growing our own food. My parents and Lindsey’s parents had sizable vegetable gardens. In the future we’d like to open a country store and start a you-pick operation.”
He and his wife visited orchards across Kansas to get ideas for their own operation.
“A lot of orchards we saw were planted by people after they retired,” Kling said. “We wanted to have fun with it. We’re just a couple of younger people trying to get a head start.”
Mrs. Kling, daughter of Curt and Tami Brumbaugh, is a Pittsburg High School graduate and attended Pittsburg State University. Her husband is originally from Wichita, but has been in Pittsburg since 2005, except for a year he spent in Texas as a broadcaster for a hockey team.
“That was an adventure that made us celebrate Pittsburg even more,” Mrs. Kling said. “You can grow things here.”
Not that it’s always easy.
“It’s not just pop a tree in the ground and fruit happens,” Kling said.
“A lot of work goes into it,” Mrs. Kling said, “but it’s worth it.”