Thursday, July 17, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column - 7-18-14

This time of year I worry about fitting all the vendors in the pavilion.   So much so that I slight our nutritional education program – we often have every square inch of side space and much of the middle taken up by vendors.   That was the case this weekend, until I got a couple of calls (Cottage Small had a piece break on their roaster and will gone while they get a replacement part and Robertson Family Farm called to say the blueberry harvest was over and we’d see them in the fall with pumpkins).   While I was sorry to get the news from both, it does mean we can have education tables both today and Saturday.   Today, Mary Ann Pennington with University of Missouri Extension will demonstrate and sample a good-for-you recipe using tomatoes and eggplant.   We have lots of both right now.   

Tomorrow Market Lady Trish Reed will demonstrate vacuum sealing for freezing summer bounty for winter use.   She’ll be doing a mix of fresh vegetables that can be frozen together and then thawed and cooked in stews and soups.

But that may be the end of our weekend recipe demonstrations for a while as we are expecting Broken Wire with their pepper roaster next weekend and vendor space will be super tight again.   It’s a good problem to have.   More choices for the customers, more opportunities for local farmers and small business people.

We’ve had a few new small businesses join us this week.   M & M Bistro, based at their restaurant on Main Street in Joplin, was very pleased with their Saturday sales of pita wraps and baklava.   They’ll be back this Saturday, as will our other new Saturday vendor, Red Lab Farms with their French pastries.   They sold out of pastries last week, so I’m expecting them to bring a larger supply tomorrow.

Our new Tuesday vendor, Carmine’s Pizza, was also pleased with their first day at the market.   In fact, they ran out of pizza dough.  They’ll be back on Tuesday.

Seriously, folks, the market is on a roll!  I don’t think we’ve ever had so much sweet corn and of such good quality.   With literally tons of it going out at every market, I know of only a few dozen ears that were 
unsatisfactory.   That’s pretty amazing and I know there has to have been more because you just can’t do that kind of volume without some mistakes slipping through.   If you’ve bought a market product that was over or under ripe or that was damaged, please let us know.   None of our vendors would intentionally sell a poor product and we want to make it right if it happens.   You can speak directly to the vendor or you can come to the information table and we’ll make sure you receive a refund or a replacement.

That being said, please be sure that you give your produce the same care your farmer does.   Sweet corn is best eaten within a day or two of purchase and it should be refrigerated.   Tomatoes should never be refrigerated until they are cut.   Peppers should be stored in the refrigerator and used within about four days.   Cantaloupe can be stored uncut at room temperature until it’s ripe, then should be stored in the refrigerator.   Eggplant can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.   All cut produce should be stored in the refrigerator.   For more tips on storing and serving fresh produce, go to   This useful app and web site was developed by University of Missouri Extension.   It has tips for all sorts of fresh produce and recipes, too.   You can get more information about it from Mary Ann today.

So what’s happening today in addition to the cooking demo?  William Adkins is playing hits from the 60’s and 70’s.   Granny Shaffers at the Market is serving home style chicken and noodles and chicken salad sandwiches.   We’re expecting Terrell Creek with goat cheese and Marlee’s with raw milk.   Hillside Farm will have elephant garlic and Endless Bounty will have energy bars.   Of course, we’ll have loads of fresh produce, plus baked goods, jams and jellies and honey on both days.

Tomorrow, The Granny Chicks are playing.   Cooking for a Cause benefits NALA (Neighborhood Adult Literacy Action) whose volunteers teach adults to read and immigrants better English skills.   The benefit breakfast of biscuits and gravy, sausage, and eggs to order is served from 9 to 11.

JJ’s Woodfired Pizza will be at the market talking about how they use local fresh produce in their restaurant.   They are one of several restaurants that shop regularly at the market.   You’ll want to stop by their table near the center entrance because they’ll have samples!

Saturday will be the day for cantaloupe and watermelon because E & O Produce will be here.   They are usually here on Tuesday and Saturday and are the first ones in the market with a big supply of melons.
We’ll have a new crafter at the market Saturday, Dorothy Cliff, who is a weaver of rag rugs, table runners, mug rugs and handbags all out of recycled materials.   She also does zipper art and woven bowls.   
Tuesday we’ll be open from 4 to 6 with all the usual offerings.  

Friend our facebook page for all the latest information.   We post a list of all vendors on site within 30 minutes of each market opening, as well as photos so you can see a sample before you come.  See you soon!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column - 7-11-14

I guess the word got out that we were open on Friday and Saturday. Between the two days, July 4 and 5, we had thousands of people come to the market. Good thing we were loaded with produce. In fact, even with all those people, we still sent corn home. Now that’s a lot of corn. (photos from Thursday's farm visits)

Carolyn Smith demonstrated roasted sweet corn seasoned with PT Gardens’ seasoned salts at the market Tuesday. Folks must have agreed it was good because PT Gardens’ sales were up 70% that day. They’re at the market every Tuesday and sell many varieties of salts blended with seasonings such as garlic, onion, bacon, plus a salt called “Dragon’s Breath”. Yes, that would be the hot one. They don’t grow the salt, but they do grow all the seasonings that they add (except the bacon which they buy from local ranchers). They also sell a variety of fresh cut herbs.

Carolyn is one of our new market volunteers and what a jewel she is. As a retired family and consumer sciences teacher, she is perfect for our nutrition education program, always bringing us interesting tastes and techniques and wonderful displays. She makes it look easy. And she doesn’t stop with her demonstrations. She and her husband stay and help us put away the market at the end of the day when she demonstrates. Yes, we are fortunate to have so many wonderful volunteers – like Susan who helps on Fridays. Not only has she learned all the set up and operation, but she’s a nurse to boot and advises us when there is a medical problem. Last week a customer fell while getting in her car, and Susan’s advice was “call the ambulance”. It was good advice. (And, with the EMTs’ help, everything worked out just fine.)

Another new volunteer is Dan, who is at the market most Saturday mornings helping with set up and driving the golf cart. Thursday he went with me to do farm inspections. As a gardener, bee keeper and keeper of chickens, he’s just right for the job. On Friday he’s training our newest volunteer, Roger, who will be driving the market cart. This time of year, the cart is essential because three bags of sweet corn and two melons are just a bit heavy to carry while walking a quarter mile to your car. 

Wait, did I say melons?  Yes, I did. The first of the cantaloupe came in last Tuesday. We’ll have a few today and we expect hundreds by tomorrow (and may even have some watermelon). Every season has its delights, but it’s sure hard to beat melons, sweet corn and field tomatoes. I had a Cherokee Purple from Green’s Greenhouse for dinner tonight. Being heirlooms, they can sure look ugly, but nothing beats the taste.

So what other delights does this week’s market hold?  Today (Friday from 11 to 2), the Sours play traditional music. Granny Shaffers at the Market serves home style chicken and noodles and chicken salad sandwiches. We’ve had to suspend our Extension cooking demonstrations for a while because we are so full. There’s just no extra space to set up a demonstration table. Today we expect 22 growers, 2 dairies, 2 ranchers, an egg farmer, plus nine other food related vendors, plus music. That’s a lot to fit into our pavilion!

Tomorrow (Saturday from 9 to noon), we’re going to squeeze in two new vendors and I guarantee that you’ll find them special. M & M Bistro will be at the market with two “sandwiches” – a gyro pita wrap and a chicken pita wrap. My husband, Phil, and I did their inspection last week. Boy, that was a tough gig. The wraps were delicious and the baklava was as good as I’ve ever eaten. Yes, there will be baklava, too!  And it only gets better, because our other new vendor makes French pastries. You can expect plain and savory croissants, gougeres and other delights from Justin Mason of Red Lab Farm. Yes, I had to look up gourgere, too. It’s a savory pastry made of choux (pronounced “shoo”) pastry and various kinds of cheese. Choux pastry is also used to make beignets, cream puffs and ├ęclairs. It’s leavened by steam, not by baking powder, baking soda or yeast.
Justin brought some samples by Tuesday’s market for us to try. (We volunteers lead a hard life.)  I had Teng Yang, of Nature Valley, try the croissant because he lived in France for many years. He gave it a big thumbs up.

Tomorrow we welcome Cliff Walker and Rebecca Hawkins to the market for the first time. You may have heard them as part of the Rebecca Hawkins Project at Minerva’s Candy Company.

All of which is pretty exciting news, but it doesn’t end there. On Tuesday, we expect yet another new vendor – Carmine’s Wood Fired Pizza. Carmine’s will bake to order hand-tossed pizza’s using market veggies – at last we’ll have a vegetarian choice on Tuesdays. He’ll also do meat pizzas. It should be a great option, along with Dogs on the Roll who will be offering their hot dogs in various choices, pulled pork sandwiches and Frito pies.

Trish Reed will be at the market Tuesday (4 to 6 pm) demonstrating how to prepare and vacuum seal veggies for freezing, preserving today’s bounty for winter enjoyment. I’ll be asking several of our growers to bring some veggies in bulk on Tuesday for customer to buy for canning and freezing. And, of course, this is the perfect time of year to load up on sweet corn for freezing. Come December, you’ll be glad you did.
The Pommerts will perform.

See you at the market. In fact, why not come to them all this week so your sweet corn is as fresh as possible?  Fresh is always nice, but in sweet corn it is fabulous!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column - July 3, 2014

Let's not be formal - call me Blossom.

Big news first – We ARE open on Friday, July 4th, from 11 to 2 and on Saturday, July 5th, from 9 to noon and we’ll be loaded with fresh-from-the-farm sweet corn. The field tomatoes are coming in and the growers’ tables are loaded with all the good things of summer.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled column -

I just finished another full day of farm visits. My traveling companions were Randy Garrett and David Middleton with Lincoln University Cooperative Extension and Patrick Byers with University of Missouri Extension. We visited two novice growers, four experienced growers and a dairy. I’m there to document production and look for food safety issues. Extension is there to advise me in case I have a question, which I often do have, and to help the growers. At one place, they advised the grower to stop watering his tomatoes overhead to reduce the spread of early blight. The grower is new at it and thought the plants would benefit from a refreshing shower. That would be a no. At two other farms there were questions about harvesting early varieties of apples. Another farmer needed help with training and pruning blackberries. Everywhere we had three sets of eyes alert for pests and disease.

We are so fortunate to have professionals joining the farm inspections. Our farmers are better for it and the produce you buy at the market is better because of it.

If you have gardening questions, you can catch up with Patrick at the market tomorrow (Friday). He’ll have a table near the market information table. As a horticulturist, Patrick is knowledgeable about both decorative and food plants so come take advantage of his visit to the market.
David Middleton of Lincoln U walks with a grower's grandson.  We love our farm visits!

Now you may ask – what kind of state employee works on the Fourth of July?  Well, one like Patrick. He has family plans in Kansas for the evening and figured he might as well stick to his first Friday schedule at our market. 

On Friday, we are expecting Marlee’s Creamery with raw milk, several blueberry growers, and most of our other growers. However, you’ll have to come on Saturday for honey. The Amos’ are taking Friday off, as is Granny Shaffer’s at the Market. Dogs on the Roll is filling in for lunch with hot dogs, chili dogs, chili cheese dogs, pulled pork and Frito pie. On the market stage is JR Sampson and Friends. One of the “friends” is Corky Dow of Carthage who has graced our stage many times. With Corky coming, I’m thinking bluegrass.
We’re open from 11 to 2 as usual on Friday, but there’s nothing usual about it!  Redings Mill (aka Jamey Smith formerly known as Mohaska Farmhouse) returns to the market Friday. We are thrilled to have him back with his wonderful artisan breads. Jamey plans to be at all the markets from now on, as does Hillside Farms, known for their elephant garlic. They began harvesting garlic last week and are expecting such a bumper crop that they hope we’ll all start thinking “I’m hungry, where’s the garlic?"

We have a new grower at the market, Owen Detweiler whose farm is northwest of Lamar. He hopes to be our “melon man” and on our visit today I could see why. He’s growing a lot of melons, they look great and he clearly loves growing them. He had 60 cantaloupes at the market Tuesday and he says the watermelon and musk melons aren’t far behind. If he has enough to justify the drive (since he’s Amish he has to hire a driver) he’ll be at the market Saturday. And he’s certain to be here on Tuesday. Owen specializes in melons but he also grows sweet corn, tomatoes and a variety of other crops. I’m looking forward to his “lunchbox peppers” which are small sweet peppers that come in a variety of colors. I think they’ll be a big hit at the market when they’re ready for harvest in a week or two.

Brown Moss is playing Saturday and Cooking for a Cause benefits Crosslines, our regional food pantry. This is normally our biggest breakfast benefit of the year and we will be ready for a crowd. I hope you’ll spread the word and come out for cooked-to-order farm-fresh eggs, biscuits and gravy, and sausages. Your breakfast will satisfy your hunger while your purchase will curb the hunger of your neighbors in need. Win – win!

Another reason to visit the market on Saturday is the cooking demonstration. Frank Reiter, a foodie of the first order (google Frank about Food to find his blog and Facebook page), will demonstrate and give samples of blueberry lamb kebabs with mint cucumber sauce.

Tuesday we’re open from 4 to 6 and Owen Detweiler should be there with melons. Market Lady Carolyn Smith will have another great cooking demo for us – she did herb-marinated vegetables last week using our FoodSaver marinator. Who knew such a product existed. Using vacuum pressure to infuse the meat or vegetable, it only takes 10 minutes to marinate instead of hours.
It’s that time of year when every market seems better than the last. It is High Season!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Webb City Sentinel market column 6-27-14

You’re going to see a little different layout at the market starting today. We’re trying to plan for the dreaded peach line. The first peaches should arrive in a week or two. More on that below. 

Those who remember a certain Friday in early July of last year know there’s got to be a better way. That Friday there was a perfect storm at the market. The peaches, the sweet corn and the field tomatoes all arrived on the same day and we had an incredible mass of customers. Because the line at Pate’s Orchard went north up the middle but had to curve into their stand on the west side, folks walking south on the west side of the market were trapped. I had to stop the peach line to let customers pass through to the south and then bring the peach line back into Pate’s tables over and over again. It was a mess.

So we’re experimenting with running the line straight down the middle from the center space on the north end. The Wells Family Farm, coming today for the first time this season, is filling that space today as a trial run. I’m not at liberty to reveal their product (and it’s not peaches), but there will be a line for sure. If it goes well, Pates will be located there when the peaches arrive and the music will be moving closer to the center of the pavilion. 

Now about those peaches. Sadly the local peach crop failed this year. The buds that produce the peaches set on in July and August and sit on the tree all winter until the spring weather triggers them to swell and bloom. The remarkably low temperatures of last winter killed most of the buds and the late frost took care of the few that survived.

The market board has given our largest orchard, Pates, permission to bring in peaches from the boot heel. They’ll be from an orchard that John Pate knows well and that he is confident will gives us a top quality peach. It was a hard choice for the board to make. Being producer-only is a defining quality of our market and though many markets have mile limits that would consider the boot heel local it won’t be producer-grown. It will be resale and that’s just not who we are. 

The board would appreciate your feedback on the topic because the peach crop will fail again one of these days and they’ll have to make a decision again as to whether we stay true to our producer-only mandate and do without any peaches at all or whether we make an exception.

For this year, however, the decision is made. There will be a sign at the Pate’s stand that names the orchard and location so folks know where the peaches were grown. Of course, the Pates will also have their own tomatoes, onions, berries and other crops that they grow up in Stockton. Just the peaches will be from outside our normal range.

That range changed this year. Since we opened in 2000, we had set 70 miles as the crow flies as our limit. That’s been changed to 50 miles with already established growers grandfathered in. As manager, I have the authority to go beyond our mile limit for products that we need. Our goat cheese, for example, comes from Fordland which is the on the other side of Springfield. 

That vendor, Terrell Creek will be at the market today when we’re open from 11 to 2. I was there yesterday for their annual inspection. It is such an impressive place. Well managed, lots of space, grass, shade and water for the goats, a pristinely clean cheese making room.   

Brown Moss will be playing both today and tomorrow. It’s their first time at the market in their current combination though they’ve played many times with us as the Green Earth Band. I promise you’ll enjoy their funky folksy original music.

Granny Shaffers at the Market is serving a fruit plate and chicken salad sandwiches today.
Tomorrow Cooking for a Cause benefits the scholarship program of PEO. Their volunteers will serve farm fresh eggs cooked to order, biscuits and gravy, sausage with sliced local tomatoes as a side.

Market Lady Trish Reed is doing a food preservation education extravaganza on Saturday. (We’re open from 9 to noon on Saturday.)  She’ll make fresh salsa with market tomatoes and then show folks how to can or vacuum seal it. She’ll also vacuum seal some fresh produce and cut herbs. We’ll also have recipes, coupons, and drawings for Ball Jar products.

On Tuesday when we’re open from 4 to 6, Market Lady Carolyn Smith will do a cooking dmonstration. Supper is variations on the hot dog, Frito pie and pulled pork. The Pommerts will perform.
Don’t forget, unless you want roasted coffee beans or goat cheese, we have pretty much everything on Tuesday as on any other market day. It starts out a bit crowded but eases up very quickly making it pleasant to park and shop. Of course, if you ride in on the bike path, parking is always easy. We have a bike rack under the tree just west of the market that doesn’t get nearly enough use. However you get to the market, we’ll see you soon.