Thursday, September 25, 2014

Webb City Sentinel market column - 9-26-14



Today is our last Friday of the season. After today we’ll be open on Saturdays from 9 to noon and on Tuesdays from 4 to 6 pm.

Tomorrow is our last day for biscuits and gravy as part of breakfast. In October we still have Cooking for a Cause, but it will be pancakes, ham and eggs, all cooked to order. And we have some mighty fine causes coming up in October. On October 4, breakfast benefits CROPwalk which locally includes United Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Missionary Baptist, Lutherans and Christian Disciples)- and of course all others are welcome whether part of a church, mosque, synagogue, business or school. CROPwalk fights hunger – which is everyone’s concern.  One-quarter of the money raised stays local with Crosslines, Salvation Army, Lafayette House and Childrens Haven. The remaining funds go around the world fighting hunger, caring for refugees and providing access to clean water.

On October 11, the breakfast benefits the Webb City Parks system. On October 18, it benefits Webb City’s Bright Futures and on October 25 it benefits the Webb City Schools Foundation. 

What I’m telling you is, yes, there’s a lot going on during October, especially with all the festivals on Saturdays, but start your day off with breakfast at the market. It benefits great causes, it’s delicious AND it would only take an extra 10 minutes to pick of some wonderful things from the vendors while you’re there, thereby benefiting our local farmers. Dine, buy and dash!  If you’re going straight to a festival, just pack a cooler to store your fresh produce in while you play.

With the arrival of October the pavilion will begin to look different. The Park workers plan to put the sidings on soon. The sidings will be rolled up and ready to drop and secure when the weather turns consistently cold. 

We’re also making plans for the Christkindlmarket in November and December. This is a special gift market whose roots originate in parts of German-speaking Europe. It literally means Christ Child Market. The Christkindlmarket will take place during the regular market time (Saturdays from 9 to noon) in the south end of the pavilion which will be decked out in festive lights, garland and ornaments (want to help me decorate?). 

Call me (417 483-8139) if any of the following interests you –

We’d like to have a seller of hot drinks – we can’t do alcohol in the park, but mulled cider, hot chocolate, spiced teas, specialty coffees, all that would be great. Perhaps it could be a nonprofit’s project?
 
We’d like to have Christmas music, mid November through Christmas. Does your church choir or school choir or band want to perform?  We’d love to have them.

We’re looking for wonderful handcrafted gifts. Like the regular market, the seller must be the crafter or artist. Applications can be picked up at the market information table or downloaded on-line at webbcityfarmersmarket.com.  (That's a photo of the work of one of our knitters that is coming this year.)

We’d love to have a Mrs. Clause or Santa Clause for children to visit during the first three Saturdays of December. I might be able to come up with a costume if you would like to give that a try. It’d also be great to have a few elves around.

In other words, let’s be festive and make merry. If you have ideas or want to help, give me a call.

Today, on our last Friday, the Sours are playing traditional music. M & M Bistro will serve pitas filled with chicken or beef and lamb – and lots of good veggies and delicious cucumber sauce.

Tomorrow we have a special treat when the loquacious culinary enthusiast Chuck Lonardo demonstrates Lamb Steaks with Tuscan Herbs. He’ll be grilling them up right at the market and handing out samples. Even if you think you don’t like lamb, you should try this. Chuck has his own special methods and you may be surprised that lamb is very tasty. Especially lamb from Sunny Lane Farm.

The Rebecca Hawkins Project will play. Breakfast benefits the March of Dimes – last Saturday for biscuits and gravy!

This week was the last time for the Kids Community Garden until next spring. What a fall we’ve had with the kids. About 40 children have come to the garden after school once a week.  (photo - master gardener Dale Mermoud talks to some of the kids about tomatillo.) This week they dug their sweet potatoes and they were very nice sweet potatoes indeed, made even better by the 50 pounds of sweet potatoes donated by the market. Every child was able to take home a full sack to share with their family, plus a variety of other veggies donated by the market farmers. They also got to sample kohlrabi, a vegetable that none had seen before and many liked. 

We spent most of our hour talking about plans for next spring. About why we needed to keep a chart of the garden so we know where to plant the tomatoes and potatoes (to avoid virus build up in the soil, you change locations each year). About sequential plantings, cool weather crops in the spring, warm weather crops in May, and more cool weather crops planted the first week of school in the fall.  About what to plant and what we enjoyed eating.

This was probably our most successful year at the garden in terms of the number of children involved – over 250 planted, tended or harvested in the garden this year. We are looking forward to an even better year next spring. In fact, if we’re going to have that many kids in the garden, I think I’d better talk to the school about expanding the garden – again!
 
The Kids Garden may be closed for the season but many of our market farmers are still going strong with fall crops like lettuce, chard, and broccoli coming into season and plenty of winter squash, sweet potatoes and the remaining summer crops like green beans, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. It’s going to be a lovely fall at the market.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Webb City Sentinel market column 9-19-14



I admit it, sometimes it feels like I’m repeating myself. Every week I tell you how wonderful the market is, and sometimes I tell you about our wonderful vendors and customers. But the truth is the truth, so here I go again.

We welcome back a couple of vendors who have been gone for a while from the market. Today and tomorrow Cottage Vanilla (aka Rosemary McCulley) is back at the market. She took a month off while it was so hot. She figured no one in their right mind was baking!  But with the cooler weather her customers are eager to get back to baking and even thinking of their holiday baking and of holiday gifts. Rosemary’s vanilla makes a lovely stocking stuffer. 

The other vendor is Red Lab Farm. Justin Mason and his wife Ashley will be back at the market tomorrow with his French style pastries. Their absence was caused by a serious house fire. Their home will take six months to repair and all their baking equipment was lost, but their real loss was the namesake of their farm, their red lab named Mister Maximoose A Million Fourpaw-Mason (known to his friends and customers as “Moose, CEO of Red Lab Farm”), along with his companions King Charles Spaniels Stew and Olivia. We are so glad Justin and Ashley will be back at their stand. We hope they’re ready for lots of hugs. Tomorrow they’re bringing Croissants - Sourdough, Ham & Cheese and Chocolate.

These vendors are among the reasons that our market is special.

Even our honey bears are happy!
And we think we have some pretty special customers too, for their loyalty, their kind words and their support. Recently a customer made a donation to the market in memory of the late Tom Clark who loved bluegrass music. We’ll think of Tom tomorrow as we listen to Sonny Lau Certified Bluegrass.

We also received a donation to the children’s garden in memory of Ida Gilmore, a long time gardener who lived to be 102. With over 250 children involved in the garden this year, that gift has been very helpful.

And our scarecrows are happy!
The market also has received gifts to its food stamp matching program. Each of the first four food stamp customers who buys food stamp tokens on Tuesdays get an additional $5 in tokens. This increases the amount of fresh produce our low income customers can buy. Yes, we’re starting small – the City Market in Kansas City has a matching program of over $65,000 a year - but it’s a beginning for us.

The program is funded in two ways. The first is through Smile.Amazon.com. That is Amazon’s charity program. If you buy through the smile site, which has the same prices and products as the regular Amazon web site, 5% of your purchase price goes to the charity of your choice. While the market isn’t asking anyone to buy on-line, if you do, we hope you will choose to use the smile site and designate the market. 

The other food stamp funding source was a surprise. My daughter Emily listed the program on her wedding registry and folks are making donations in honor of her upcoming marriage on October 25. She doesn’t need another toaster, instead she and her fiancĂ©, Kit, are happy to know they and their friends and family are helping local low income folks put fresher, better food on their tables.
It’s true. The market is a feel good place but it’s not just because we have good produce and products. It’s also because we have good people - customers, vendors and volunteers - good music and good causes. And we have some very happy scarecrows this fall because Suzette has joined the family. Bring your camera or use your phone to take a photo with Sammy, Suzie and their little addition.  They’ll be at the central entrance.

Today we’ll be feeling extra good because the Granny Chicks are playing!  Accordions and foot tapping are in our future. M & M Bistro will serve pita wraps with chicken or beef and lamb. Hillside will be at the market with their elephant garlic. We’ll have freshly roasted coffee beans by Cottage Small Coffee Roasters (those of you who graduated from Webb City High School may know them as Josh and Genevieve Moore). Friday is when Madewell Pork is at the market. Fanning Egg Farm and Endless Bounty energy bars come on Tuesday and Friday.

Today and tomorrow we expect lots of mums and fall decorations. We’ll have even more on Saturday. Sunny Lane Farm is at the market on Saturdays with beef, lamb, and chicken. Redings Mill Bread Company comes both Friday and Saturday as does Amos Apiaries. Harmony Hill comes to every market with country style baked goods. Of course, we have loads of produce at every market as well.
Today the Independent Living Center will be at the market to talk to customers about food stamps, helping them sign up for the program if they are eligible.

Tomorrow Cooking for a Cause benefits one of our Webb City Girl Scout troops. They’ll be serving from 9 to 11. As mentioned earlier, Sonny Lau Certified Bluegrass plays.

Tuesday Rob Pommert plays and Carmine’s Wood Fire Pizza bakes to order.

Next Friday is our last Friday of the year. In October we go to Tuesday from 4 to 6 and Saturday from 9 to noon.

The seasons, they are a-changing but the market is welcoming no matter what the season. See you at the market!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Webb City Sentinel market column - 9-12-14



Fall is in the air and fall crops are pouring into the market. We still have plenty of summer crops, but now we have winter squash like spaghetti, acorn and butternut, the lettuces are reappearing, as is the boc choy and other greens, and the pumpkins and decorative gourds are wonderful. 

You’ve probably noticed Owen Detweiler at E & O Produce in the north part of the pavilion. He and his wife Edith are new growers with us this year, though they’re not new growers. Previously they had only sold through the Lamar Farmers Market and the Lamar Produce Auction. Owen, as I have mentioned before, loves growing melons. I think he must just love growing big round produce because he is bringing a wonderful collection of pumpkins, large and small, and decorative gourds of all shapes and colors. You will not want to miss his stand on Saturday. (Owen normally comes on Tuesdays and Saturdays.)  

Saturday is also the day to load up on sweet potatoes and jams and jellies because that’s when Fairhaven will be at the market this week.

Which is not to say that we won’t have plenty of choices today as well. We’ll have at least eight farms at the market today and probably ten tomorrow.

For years Friday was our biggest market of the week and the market vendors most sought to attend. When we started the Saturday market some seven years ago, it was a mighty small market, both in terms of customers and vendors and in produce. One Saturday that first year we closed with about two turnips in the place!

My, how the times have changed. I knew that Saturdays would grow. Saturday is, after all, the most popular market day nationwide. Last year Friday and Saturday ran about even in terms of sales and customers. This year, Saturday has taken the lead, a substantial lead.

We always drop a market day during October, and then go to one day a week starting in November. Last year we dropped Tuesday in October and, for the first time, dropped Friday in November. This year the farmers said that Saturday has become such a big day that they cannot supply enough produce on Saturday if they sell on Friday. So come October, we are dropping Friday and keeping Tuesday and Saturday. That schedule should be much, much better for the farmers who need to space their two harvests out during the week rather than trying to harvest two days in a row. We hope our Friday customers will join us either on Saturday or Tuesday, or both. The October schedule should result in two markets a week loaded with produce.

The Kids Community Garden is pretty much finished for the year. We still have sweet potatoes to dig and cover crops to sow but there is not nearly enough to keep 30 children busy for an hour, so during the fall we focus on fresh produce, what it is, how to prepare it, what it tastes like. This week, it was boc choy and butternut squash, but we started out with Orange Crisp watermelon. Each child received a slice and instructions to close their eyes when they tried the first bite. “It tastes like watermelon!!”  That’s because it IS watermelon, orange watermelon. 

I went through the motions of preparing the boc choy but it was too windy to actually cook it. Hopefully that, and the recipe, was enough for the kids to take home the very ample supply provided by market gardeners and try it with their families. I also went through the motions of preparing the butternut squash, but since that can be baked ahead of time, they did get to sample it. There was a very eager cluster of students around the box of butternut when it was time to divide up the produce. The recipe for both the boc choy and the butternut squash are available at the information table at the market.

Today at the market the Plainsfolk are playing and M & M Bistro will serve beef/lamb pita wraps, as well as chicken pita wraps.
  
Tomorrow we celebrate Arts in the Park. There will be children’s arts activities from 9 to noon courtesy of the Spiva Art Center and Wildcat Glades. WildHeart, emmy-award-winning musicians - they focus on kids, the environment and animals -  performs at 9, 10, and 11 (right). Drew Pommert plays at 9:30 and 10:30 and the cast of JLT in Concert perform at 11:30.

Cooking for a Cause supports Lafayette House, our regional domestic violence shelter. Volunteers will serve biscuits and gravy, sausage, eggs cooked to order and coffee and juice until 11.
Tuesday, Rob Pommert plays. Carmine’s Wood Fired Pizza makes pizza to order.

I want to close with a conversation I overheard at the garden Wednesday. A young man called his mother to say he was ready to be picked up and to say “Let’s have stuffed peppers for dinner – I have five bell peppers!  And let’s try boc choy, too. I have boc choy and I know how to cook it!” 
There’s plenty of boc choy at the market and we can show you how to cook it, too!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Webb City Sentinel market column - 9-5-14



Don’t you just love it when things fall into place?  Tuesday I was preparing to rush over to Cutting Loose to have our Arts in the Park banner changed to this year’s date so I could put it up at the entrance to the park. Date change – easy. Oh, what’s that?  The banner lists various things going on – children’s activities, music, food, DRAMA. Oh no, I have no drama and if I take that off the banner it will leave a big gap – not only on the banner wording but also in the event. So on my way to Cutting Loose, I stopped in at the Unity Building to see if Carolyn McGowan had any ideas. I walked in and before I opened my mouth, Carolyn said “I need to get some songs from JLT’s anniversary show scheduled at the market!”  How about three 20 minute slots on Saturday, September 13, I said. Drama done!

It’s a match made in heaven – well, actually in downtown Webb City. Joplin Little Theatre is
celebrating their 75th anniversary with “JLT in Concert”. It will have medleys from some of the 90 different musicals that JLT has staged over the years. The show runs from September 24 to 28. You can get a preview of the music (and dance) at the market during Arts in the Park on Saturday, September 13. It’s going to be a lovely day of celebrating the arts, including drama.
September means the seasons are changing. The mums and pumpkins are coming into the market, as are sweet potatoes and winter squash. Green beans are becoming plentiful again. Susie and Sammy Scarecrow will soon be making an appearance for photos.

And as the season changes, preparing for winter comes to mind. We have a wonderful quantity and variety of peppers right now, both sweet and hot. Now’s the time to freeze (or dry) them to add zest to your winter meals. It’s also a great time to can tomatoes or green beans. And we’ve had a pretty good supply of sweet corn lately so you might even be able to snag some for freezing. But buy it soon. Sweet corn will soon be a sweet memory.

Today we enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean for lunch. M & M Bistro serves pita wraps with chicken or beef and lamb. Sonny Lau Certified Bluegrass makes his solo debut at the market.

Cottage Small Coffee Roasters can’t make the market today but will be there on Saturday. We should have a good supply of eggs today. Fanning Egg Farm’s second flock of hens are laying well, doubling the farm’s production, so we’re not running out in an hour like we were earlier this year. Harmony Hill usually has eggs as well on both Friday and Saturday.

Patrick Byers and Shon Bishop with University of Missouri Extension and Lincoln University Co-operative Extension respectively will be at the market today offering advice related to plants in the garden or landscape. This may be their last visit this year, so take advantage of it if you’re having problems or making plans.

Tomorrow Cooking for a Cause benefits the Tri-County Cerebral Palsy Center. Volunteers will serve biscuits and gravy, sausage and eggs cooked to order, plus juice or coffee until 11. No Apparent Reason from Carthage brings us some of the best bluegrass in the region.

Sunny Lane Farm is coming to the market on Saturdays only for the rest of the year. M & M Bistro is coming on Fridays only. Oakwood Farms is continuing to bring the pepper roaster on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

On Tuesday we’ll have Carmine’s Wood Fired Pizza making pizza to order. Hawthorne is playing. See you at the market!