Thursday, September 15, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 9-16-16



I hear we’ve been getting some chilly nights and the leaves are beginning to turn in Southwest Missouri (they’re turning here in Mongolia too). So I expect many are thinking of pumpkins and mums. Give us a couple of more weeks. Your market farmers will be bringing them by the truckload soon, but not so soon that they’ll play out before fall is over. We’re experiencing a fall version of spring when the market farmers are under pressure to start bringing plants way too early to put in the ground. Folks get eager to put in their garden, but the market growers try to hold off till your plants won’t freeze in the spring and your pumpkins won’t go soft before Halloween. And they plant accordingly. So bide your time another ten days or so and you’ll find just what you want at the market at just the right time.  (they're worth the wait - photo is mums from last fall.  If you just can't wait, there are a few mums and pumpkins already at the market - the photo below was taken a couple of weeks ago!)

I was sure missing the market today. There is a “super market” very near where Cora, my daughter, lives here in Ulaan Baatar. Pretty much all the grocery stores here are named “something market” using the English word market in the store name – only written in the Cyrillic alphabet. Apparently the concept of a grocery store has British roots here and the alphabet reflects Mongolia being controlled by the Soviet Union for decades. Originally Mongolian didn’t have an alphabet but used a character based system like Chinese does. The name of this particular store – in Cyrillic – appears to be CheapMarket. It’s not. 

Anyway, while shopping today I missed our own market because I bought some particularly sad boc choy. I really thought in Asia they would do boc choy better, but I not found that to be the case. Makes me long for the beautiful greens at the market

The rest of the market’s produce is what I’d called typical grocery store quality. The carrots are a bit of a surprise. Regardless of the size of the market, and I have been in a couple of quite large ones comparable to our own, the carrots are sold covered in dirt. If they are loose there is one disposable glove that everyone is to use to bag their carrots, but if the carrots are pre-bagged – in a printed commercial bag – they are still covered in dirt. I’m not quite sure what the significance is. Perhaps that’s their version of saying “local produce” or maybe it’s just traditional.  (That's the bagged carrots and the same carrots unbagged)

As is traditional at our market, you can expect a lovely day tomorrow. Cooking for a Cause benefits the Webb City High School Band Boosters. William Adkins is performing. Music and meal run from 9 to 11 while market continues till noon.

On Tuesday, the Pommerts will play and on Thursday we have Jack and Lee Ann Sours on stage. Stewart’s Bakery will have some tasty meals available both days.

Next Thursday is the September Twilight Tunnel Walk. The Walk begins at 6 pm at the market’s Winter Production Education Center, 1213 Route U, Rocky Comfort (1.77 miles south of the intersection of State Highway 76 and Route U).

The Walk through the Center’s two high tunnels is led by Extension experts and experienced farmers. This month the topics to be discussed include heating and trapping heat via sidewalls and row cover, transplanting, soil and fertility, anticipated growth and harvest schedules and an up-date from site manager Fue Yang.
This was to be our last walk for the year but the walks have been so well received that we plan to continue them at least one or two more months. 

The walks are free and open to the public. Come if you’re thinking of putting a tunnel up or if you’re just interested in where your food comes from. All are welcome.

And all are welcome at the market as well. Remember, Saturdays are great, but you need to eat all week and the weekday markets are super easy – no lines, easy parking, same great produce. (And I bet the boc choy is wonderful. Steam it and eat as a side – mild lovely flavor and super nutritious.)

Just so you don't feel too sorry for my boc choy sadness - this is the view from our living room window.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 9-9-16



We’ve got another fun day planned at the market tomorrow. The Fiber Folks of Southwest Missouri will do spinning demonstrations. This organization started in 2000, the same year as the market, and is now 70 members strong. They focus on fiber and hand-crafting and their interest, and classes, range from spinning and weaving to bead work to felting and more.

Cooking for a Cause benefits the Cerebral Palsy of Tri-County, aka the CP Center here in Webb City. Located across from the old Jane Chinn Hospital, they serve developmentally disabled and medically fragile children from Jasper, Newton and McDonald counties. No child is turned away because of a family’s inability to pay for the services.  You enjoy a tasty breakfast for less than $5 and the profit from your breakfast will make children’s lives, and that of their families, better. Breakfast includes biscuits and gravy, sausages, eggs cooked to order and coffee or juice.

No Apparent Reason, the house band of the Woodshed in Carthage, always plays the day we host the
CP Center. One of their members is married to the center’s director, Dr. Christy Graham. The band’s regular fee is about twice what we can pay so they donate their show and we donate our standard band fee to the CP Center. If you make it tomorrow, you’ll understand why their price is more than we can budget – they are a really good. Now their jokes on the other hand…

On Tuesday we welcome a new band to the market stage – The Geriatrics. 

On Thursday, Scott Eastman plays. On both Tuesday and Thursday Stewart’s Bakery will have some tempting options for meals.

Things are happening off the market site as well. Our thanks to the Master Gardeners led by long time market volunteer Dale Mermoud for putting in a long day this week at the Kids Community Garden. Nine classes of first graders watched as the potatoes they planted last fall when they were kindergarteners were harvested. The potatoes were then donated to a local charity. 

In the afternoon, the master gardeners worked with 17 middle schoolers to do the final harvest and clean up the garden for winter. Our generous market farmers donated enough produce after the Tuesday market to provide each child with a bag full of veggies.

This Wednesday, September 14, the market will sponsor a workshop on blackberries at the Mt Vernon Research Cnter from 1 to 4 pm.  The class will focus on fall management of the shift trellis system and insect and disease management.  In addition to classroom presentations, participants will have hands-on instructions at the market's blackberry plot at the center.  The workshop is led by University of Missouri Extension horticulturist Patrick Byers.  The cost is $10 per person and you can download the registration form on the market’s website:  webbcityfarmersmarket.com under the “grower training” tab.

As usual, the market will be full of fresh local produce this week, learning opportunities, good meals, good causes, and good music. Enjoy the season.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Webb City Sentinel column - 9/3/16



Labor Day is on Monday and that means that our wonderful volunteer Karen McGlamery will be doing her annual “workers at the market” facebook post on Saturday. She takes a photo of each vendor and any family helping that day, and of volunteers and musicians and posts the photos with everyone’s names. It is a celebration of those whose labors create and sustain the market. It’s also a great resource for me and others who manage the market so we have a visual and written record of names and faces. Some of our vendors have very large families and I am terrible at remembering names. It took me two years to tell David and Matthew Brubacker apart which is particularly sad since David has blue eyes and Matthew brown. But there are 17 names, including parents, to remember in that family!

 
I find our vendors, especially our farmers, remarkable people in part because of their labor. (photo - thinning the peaches at Pates Orchard in 2010) Their hours are incredibly long during the summer. They rise before dawn and retire long after dark. Just harvesting and preparing produce for market takes hours, not to mention the time driving to and from market – for many that adds two hours to the day, selling at market, then packing up, and once back on the farm cleaning and putting away bins and other equipment used at the market. I have at least one set of farmers who do most of their harvesting after dark using head lamps. That way the produce is harvested after it has cooled a bit from the heat of the day which means that it will cool down faster in the cool room and be fresher longer for the customer. During the day they cultivate, pulling weeds, running irrigation, planting, scouting for pests. It makes for long days and yet once at the market, they are cheerful and welcoming and act like they have all the time in the world.

Something first noted by Sentinel editor Bob Foos is the remarkable transformation we often see in the farmers from summer to winter. Bob attended one of our organizational meetings one January early in the market’s existence. Later he asked me why one of our regular farmers didn’t attend. “He was there. He just didn’t look like he’d been working 80 hour a week.”  Indeed I had a similar experience the next winter when I visited a farmer and hardly recognized the parents of the family. They’d both put on a little weight and they looked ten years younger. These people work hard. So hats off to them and all the other folks who feed us every day.

The streetcar is running today!  Catch a free ride at the depot west of the market from 9 to 11.

Cooking for a Cause will benefit Camp Quality which hosts summertime experiences for children with cancer. Biscuits and gravy, sausages, eggs cooked to order, coffee or juice for under $5.

The Granny Chicks will take the market stage and I guarantee a good time. Who knew accordions could be such fun?  Music and meal run from 9 to 11. The market is open till noon.

Next week Stewart’s Bakery will have tasty meals – Tuesday is supper, Thursday is lunch. Rob Pommert plays on Tuesday. Bill Adkins on Thursday.

Next Saturday we’ll be hosting a weaving demonstration by the Fiber Folks of Southwest Missouri. Breakfast will benefit the CP Center and No Apparent Reason will play bluegrass and tell some jokes that will make you groan. 

Now don’t forget, even though Monday is a holiday, it won’t be for our farmers and they will be at the market Tuesday starting at 4. I hope you will be too!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 8/12/16



It is watermelon season and we are loaded with melons. The hot weather brings at least one delightful result, the melons are delicious. The okra loves the heat too, but it’s not in me to wax rhapsodic about okra.

As it happens National Watermelon Day was last week so I am armed with an abundance of information and recipes related to watermelon. For example, from Consumer Reports (and why they are reporting on watermelon I have no idea)”the nutrient watermelon is most know for is not a vitamin or mineral… but a phytonutrient called lycopene – a powerful antioxidant that gives the fruit’s flesh its characteristic pink hue. ‘Like all phytonutrients, lycopene appears to protect against some cancers, such as prostate cancer and breast cancer’, says Dr. Lisa Sasson, nutrition professor at New York University.’”  She adds that there are many recipes for using watermelon, fresh or cooked, and I’ve included a couple below, but what she says next hits home:  “It’s a short season, so go out and enjoy.”

We’ve been loading the kids plates with fresh cold watermelon at the Free Kids Meal. What could be better on these hot days?  It’s over 90% water, cold and tastes great. Our last Kids Meal of the year is this Tuesday. The menu is hamburgers, watermelon (what a surprise), jellybean tomatoes and milk. I want to take a moment to thank all the volunteers who helped serve the meals this summer. It was a lot of meals – by Tuesday it will be up to over 3,800. Special thanks go to our professional cooks – Syerra Conklin, Josephine (Jo) Provance, and Theresa White, as well as our able assistant KB Hardesty. And to our volunteers who were at the market serving kids almost every week – Braxton Melton, Paul Jackson and Annette Elam. Where would we have been without the amazing Ann Foos who recruited whole crews for us on many days and the wonderful Keller Williams team who filled all the volunteer positions on two of the hottest days of the summer. Or the Brashears boys (above) who took such pleasure in handing out milk to their peers. And to those of you who helped once or several times, we couldn’t have done it without you!
 
We plan to do the meals next year – and serve even more. We hope that area churches and organizations will follow Keller Williams lead and sign up for two or more days during the summer. If it would be a great project for you, stop by the information table and give us your contact information. We’ll let you know when we start scheduling next year.

We’re looking forward to another lovely Saturday market. Since it was rained out last Saturday, the streetcar will be running from 9 to noon. The rides are free and they leave from the depot west of the market.

Cooking for a Cause benefits the students of Eastmoreland Elementary in Joplin (especially the kids with autism). For less than $5 you get a biscuit and gravy (with one free refill), two sausages, two farm fresh eggs cooked to order, slices of market tomatoes, and coffee or juice. Special bonus – since we are closing down the kids meal and have extra chocolate milk, the first 99 people who want a carton of milk, with or without breakfast can have one for free!
 
Scott Eastman takes the market stage. Music and meal run from 9 to 11.

Chef JR Amos, the executive chef of Mercy Hospital, will conduct a cooking class at the market Saturday. This is his second class at the market this year. They are organized by Arvest Bank, who pays the chef and the chef then donates his payment to the kids meal. Win-Win for the market!

He’ll be preparing honey mojito fruit salad, sweet street corn salad, mixed summer vegetable, multicolored cheesy potato crisp and lemon herb de provence breast of chicken. Unlike our regular demonstration, we set up benches for folks. Last time he had a couple of ladies who watched it from beginning to end and lots and lots of others who sat in for a recipe or two.

Tuesday Rob Pommert will play and Stewart’s Bakery will serve supper. MU Extension will demo a tasty dish.

Thursday William Adkins plays and Stewart’s Bakery will serve lunch. School may have started but we will still have lots of fresh produce and good things for you to enjoy.

Here are those melon recipes I promised. This Martha Stewart recipe is recommended by Sam Knudtson, a market regular:

Easy Melon Sorbet 

All you need are a few fresh melons and a food processor. First, cube a melon and freeze it in a food-storage bag. When you're ready to make sorbet, place frozen melon in the food processor, and puree. You may need to add water to smooth. Add sugar to taste, and puree again. Serve immediately, or store in the freezer in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

MU Extension made this recipe from their app Seasonal and Simple at the market yesterday. It was tasty and refreshing: 

Melon Salsa

2 cups melon, seeded and chopped
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup onion, red or white, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or mint, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeding and finely chopped
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar, white or brown

In a medium size bowl, stir together all ingredients. Taste and season with more juice or sugar, if needed. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve with grilled or broiled chicken or fish.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 8-5-16



The market tomorrow is not to be missed!  It’s National Farmers Market Week so we have a drawing to celebrate. The winner wins a fun farmers market-themed crate given to us by a kind customer and $25 in market tokens to fill the crate up. 

 Pate’s Orchard is bringing in another double load of peaches, even more than last Saturday. The streetcar is giving free rides - All aboard at the depot west of the market!  Robertson Family Farm is bringing honey!  Oakwoods Farm will have their pepper roaster at the market for the first time this year. And the Granny Chicks are playing!

It’s hard to beat that line up, especially when you add that Cooking for a Cause benefits the Friends of the Webb City Library. Breakfast and music run from 9 to 11. The market and streetcar run from 9 to noon. The drawing is at 11:30 and you don’t have to be present to win.

I think it’s pretty common knowledge that roasted vegetables are wonderfully flavorful. Unfortunately at the very time we have the most vegetables, it’s way too hot to be using the oven. Starting tomorrow and into the fall, you can get that roasting done at the market, at least for peppers. Oakwoods is happy to roast any of the hot and sweet peppers they grow for you. They will even, for a small fee, roast peppers bought from other vendors at the market or peppers from your garden. And don’t think they’re going to bake in one of the market ovens. The pepper roaster is a wire cage turned over a row of propane-fueled flames. It’s quick and the result is scrumptious flavor with a hint of smoke. Delicious – and the peppers freeze well so you can enjoy them all year.

Now is the time of year to enjoy the wide variety of peppers at the market. It’s also a great time to load up on okra which loves hot weather. I’ve seen hundreds of okra plants on farm inspections this year, but nowhere more than on Roffmann Farm. I teased Pete Roffmann Tuesday that he is the market’s okra king, just as I call Owen Detweiler our melon king. Of course, Amish modesty forbids him acknowledging any title like king but he sure admits to loving to grow melons. It’s his favorite crop – watermelon, cantaloupe, canary melon. He’s had some trouble with his watermelon this year and is toying with growing them in an enormous high tunnel next year. The rains hampered his planting schedule   as well as the harvest schedule and he wants more control. On the other hand his cantaloupe crop this year has been amazingly abundant – and delicious. We have several other farmers that do a lot of excellent melons – especially Harmony Hill, plus Fairhaven and Brakers to name just a few, but no one at the market loves growing melons like Owen.

The streetcar will run again on Tuesday from 4 to 6:30 in honor of us expecting lots of kids for supper. The Free Kids Meal runs from 4:30 to 6:30 and will be a hot dog, market fruit and veggies and milk. Stewart’s Bakery will have a couple of good choices for folks over 18 to enjoy. Rob Pommert will play.

On Thursday the kids meal is from 11 to 1 and will be a submarine sandwich, market veggies and fruit and milk. Scott Eastman will play and Extension will do a cooking demo. 

A week from Thursday, August 18, at 1 pm at the market kitchen, we have a special class scheduled – 101 Ways to Enjoy Squash!  Our vendor Mende Staggs of Apple Road Farms will teach delicious ways to enjoy both summer and winter squash, as well as storage techniques for winter squash. (Did you know the winter squash is already at the market – check out the selection at Fairhaven and Green’s Greenhouse.)  The class will be 1.5 hours and the cost is $10. Participants should bring at least 3 to 4 medium summer squash – zucchini, patty pan or yellow, as well as some plastic
containers in which to take their creations home, plus a knife and cutting board. The cost is $10. The class is limited to 20 people and reservations can be made at the information table at the market or by calling 417 483-8139.

Now I have a confession to make. Though tomorrow is a market not to be missed, I will miss it. I am in Denver visiting my little grandson Wyatt. I try to see him at least once a month and this was my last chance until October. (Yes, he is precious. At seven months he continues to be the smilingest baby I’ve ever met.)  You may note that I am missing my September visit. That’s because in two weeks I leave for over a month to help my daughter Cora and her family move from Australia to (wait for it) Mongolia. That should be an adventure. But believe it or not, even when I’m enjoying the rare and real pleasure of being with my children and grandchildren I still miss the market. There’s just something about the congeniality, the bustle, the music, the beauty of the produce that I miss. I wonder if you feel the same?  Share your thoughts on the topic. Please send me via facebook message or email – eileennichols@sbcglobal.net – your own thoughts about the market. Why you come. Memorable moments. What you value. Your hopes for the market’s future?  I will use your comments, insights and stories to create the market columns for September before I leave. When I spent time in Australia I just wrote from there using a laptop to connect with my office computer just as I’m doing right now from Denver. But I’m not going to count on being able to do that in Mongolia. I’ll let you know in October whether I underestimated the Mongolian internet capacities.

Enjoy the market for me while I’m gone.