Friday, July 22, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 7-22-16

Yesterday when the streetcar was running, the Joplin Globe came by to do a story on the streetcar’s 100th anniversary. The Globe put a slide show on facebook of some of the riders with Abe Norvell on the cover. Abe is in town with his mother Katelyn visiting his grandparents Alan and Kathy Casella. I figured he would win the longest distance award because Abe and his mom are from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. But no, in going through the slides I came across a photo of Patrick Walls with his son Nathan who are in town visiting Nathan's grandmother, Mary Jane Walls James. (Patrick is pointing out landmarks to Nathan in the Globe photo)  Patrick and Nathan live in Kenya. So Nathan, you win the longest distance award for this week!

Another distance story - De Hunt, our Saturday volunteer cart driver, is attentive and engaging as he shuttles customers (and their purchases) from parking to pavilion and back. Last Saturday ne noticed a customer’s car had Texas license plates and commented on it casually. “Visiting family?”  “No,” the customer replied. “I drive up just for the market every five weeks.”  Even more surprising, she drives through much of Texas to do it. She lives near San Antonio. My, De, there must be more to that story.

This week she sure didn’t come up for cool weather. What a scorcher it’s been. Thankfully it looks like the worst is behind us for now. Weather-wise, it’s been a screwy summer for farming. Our farmers near and north of Webb City have been dealing with downpours that have made it hard to get in the fields to plant and cultivate. Our farmers to the south have had the opposite problem – barely a drop of rain. Weather is one of the real challenges of farming.

We’re looking forward to another bountiful week at the market despite the crazy growing conditions. The summer crops are in full force – cantaloupe, watermelon, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, onions, and tons more. Now is the time to buy canning tomatoes. I saw 20-pound boxes yesterday for between $10 and $12.50. Now that’s a deal.

Tomorrow we welcome back Red Bridge. This high energy duo and sometimes trio will have your feet tapping to their bluegrass and gospel.

Cooking for a Cause benefits the Boys and Girls Club. Breakfast and music run from 9 to 11 while the market is open from 9 to noon on Saturdays. 

On Tuesday, Stewart’s Bakery will serve supper. The Free Kids Supper will be nachos with market veggies and fruit. Rob Pommert will play.

On Thursday the streetcar will give free rides from 11 to 1. All aboard at the depot west of the market! The Free Kids Meal will be a hamburger and market fruits and veggies. Stewart’s Bakery and M & M Bistro will serve lunch.

The Kids Meal continues to be a feast for the eyes and the tummy. (photo - chicken salad and market cantaloupe, lunchbox peppers and cherry tomatoes were served Thursday)  What a great job our head cook Syerra Conklin does with the help of her assistant cooks, Theresa White and Jo Provance. KB Hardesty, a senior at Webb City High, joined the team this week after serving as a volunteer for most of the summer.  

Our professional team is ably assisted by a bevy of volunteers, including Braxton Melton, a student at the Webb City Junior High (the photo is of him on his first day). He handed out milk on his first day of volunteering, then quickly graduated to filling plates and now has a top responsibility as the greeter and head counter. Braxton always brings his honor society volunteer sheet for me to sign. Honor society members are required to do a certain number of volunteer hours every year. When I asked Braxton for the sheet yesterday he replied that he’d already done all the required hours and now he was volunteering just because he enjoyed it. What a kid!  Let’s clone him.

Just as we have customers who come a long distance, we have programs that gather attention from a long distance. I received a call last week from the USDA.  They are featuring the market’s Free Kids Meals as one of their national success stories. It will be featured in a variety of USDA publications as well as in power point presentations by their staff. We’ll also be featured as one of three model programs nationwide in the annual Summer Meal guide of the Food Research and Action Council, an anti-hunger non-profit that works closely with USDA advocating and educating about programs to fight hunger.

It’s nice to get the national attention, but we remain focused on being local. Local food, local farmers, local community, local causes, local kids. And even though a friend of mine would dearly love for us to have a Webb City residents-only shopping day, no matter where you’re from, you’re part of the family when you are at the market.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 7/15/16

My, what a storm we had come through town yesterday. Lighting (thankfully at a distance), thunder, a downpour of rain that lasted for what seemed like a very long time. We stayed relatively dry under the pavilion although vendors on the west side ended up pretty damp unless they had the foresight to bring a tarp to block the rain or rain coats. In the middle of it all, we began to hear what we thought was an alarm. “Is that a tornado siren?”  It didn’t sound quite right but it was hard to hear because of the sound of the storm and the crowd, yes, there was a crowd at the market despite the storm. I reached in my pocket to check the internet on my phone and it was sounding an alarm – “Severe thunderstorm alert”. You don’t say?  And that’s what the sound that we mistook for the tornado siren was. We probably had 200 cell phones sounding alarms in pavilion (inside our pockets)!

As the storm began to move out, the lovely new bus of the Heritage Y pulled up with over 50 kids for lunch. We consulted and decided that a short tour of the market was in order. With the storm still in evidence, I wanted the children to have the extra protection of the pavilion before they headed to the kids tent. So Market Manager David Hill and I split the group and gave them a tour. It was mostly visual because it was still quite noisy in the pavilion, made more so by 50+ excited little voices. But we all had a good time. My group visited Rush Egg Farm and they learned that the Rush’s chickens produce almost 1,000 eggs a week. We stopped by E & O where Owen let them feel the difference between the rough netted surface of a cantaloupe and the smooth surface of a watermelon. Then we finished off at the Lee table where they got to see long beans and the warty bitter melons. Right on cue the storm lifted. We made a quick dash through and over puddles to the tent where our meal professionals and volunteers had plates full of food ready for the children.
Thanks to the sandbags loaned to us for the summer by the city public works department, the ground under the tent was relatively dry. After quick wipe down of the damp tables, the kids sat down to a meal of hot dogs, cantaloupe, sliced lunchbox sweet peppers and tomato and cucumber salad.

Of course numbers were down yesterday due to the weather but we still had an amazing number of people come. Thank goodness for loyal customers. Even the kids meal was remarkably well attended – in addition to the Y kids, we had over 100 children eat lunch!

I have a charming story to tell you about the kids lunch. Tuesday one of our post office employees appeared at my office. A local church had an event and they had hot dog buns left over. Apparently thinking of the post office’s annual food drive which was several months ago, the church dropped the buns off at the post office instructing them to deliver the buns to a worthy cause.

Of course the post office doesn’t normally make deliveries that are not accompanied by stamps, but this creative employee came to see me and lo and behold, we had hot dogs on the menu for the kids meal. I took the buns and put them to good use. So thank you, church, thank you, post office, and thank you, postal worker who went the extra mile.

It all reminded me of something that happened 30 years ago back before information was as readily available as it is now on the internet. Someone had held a UNICEF Halloween party and called the Methodist Church to find out where to send the money raised. The church secretary didn’t know and told her to call city hall. City hall informed them that I was in charge of UNICEF in Webb City, which was news to me, so she called me and I knew where to send it. It took me a long time to figure out how city hall came to crown me queen of UNICEF. Finally I remembered that then mayor Bill Lundstrum had been to a UNICF party at my place that same year so he knew I would have the information. Isn’t living in a small town great?  I actually don’t know for sure Bill was at the party. But his wife Betty was there and was staying pretty close to a gorilla. The gorilla never revealed himself and spent a good deal of time riding up and down the elevator, crowding whoever was in it with him into a corner, but I’m pretty sure that was the mayor.
Well, sad to say there will be no gorillas at the market this week (photo - and blackberry season will soon be over so stock up now). There will, however, be a ton of cantaloupe and watermelon and other goods things. Did you know we have some of the best tamales in Missouri at the market?  The Red Tamale is at every market with a selection of different meats, heats, and flavors. For the daring they even have ghost pepper tamales. They also have vegan tamales and even dessert tamales.
Tomorrow Cooking for a Cause benefits the PEO college scholarship program. You’ll be well served because many of their volunteers have served several market breakfasts already this year and many more over the years. They are a group of very community-minded ladies and volunteer their time for many causes. Breakfast runs from 9 to 11. It includes biscuits and gravy, sausage, market eggs cooked to order, slices of Tim Green’s heirloom tomatoes and coffee or juice for under $5.

We’ll have a full morning of music. JR & Friends play bluegrass from 9 to 11. Then Madalynn makes her market debut from 11 to noon.

On Tuesday, the Pommerts are playing and Stewart’s Bakery will have a couple of tasty supper choices. The Free Kids Meal is teriyaki chicken and noodles, market veggies, and milk.
On Thursday, the streetcar will run from 11 to 1, weather permitting. Granny Shaffers will serve catfish and potatoes. Stewart’s Bakery will have a couple of lunch choices. William Adkins will play. The Free Kids Meal, which is served from 11 to 1, will be chicken salad, crackers, market veggies, and milk.

We are loaded with local produce and other goods things. Come see us!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 7/8/16

We’ll have honey tomorrow!  Amos Apiaries will be at the market with their local raw honey which is a rare treat. After two very tough winters (for the bees), Jann decided it was time to downsize and spend his retirement years a little differently than putting in long, hot hours working with thousands of bees. As a result, he and Resa only raise enough honey now to do one market a month and tomorrow is the one for July.

Other vendor news for tomorrow: 

Misty Morning Farms is bringing a whole truckload of yellow sweet corn and we’ll probably have at least five other farmers with sweet corn so plan to load up.

Linda with Stewart’s Bakery has decided to focus on cookies… and pies!  Expect fresh blackberry pies, fresh peach pies and fresh blueberry pies at the market.

We’ll have hundreds of cantaloupe. I enjoyed one for dinner yesterday. Delicious. My husband, Phil, asked Owen Detweiler to pick out one ready to eat right away. Owen picked well.

We should have a good supply of blackberries, too. Enjoy them while you can. We expect them to be in abundance for another week at least.

Tomatoes are coming in fast and furious. It’s time to place your orders for canning tomatoes with your favorite farmer.

And, according to Gary Stubblefield, we will have farm fresh vine-ripened biscuits over at Cooking for a Cause tomorrow. To quote his facebook post “That's right, it's biscuit picking season and these are fresh from the field.”  Well, Gary is something of a wild man, but breakfast WILL be good – biscuits and gravy, sausage, farm fresh eggs cooked to order, and juice or coffee, all for less than $5. It benefits NALA – Neighborhood Adult Literacy Action. NALA works with adults who need help improving their reading or math skills. A friend of mine volunteered last year at NALA working with a man in his 30s who was a poor reader and particularly bad at spelling. It was holding him back at work and, just as importantly, he couldn’t help his kids with their homework or read with them. It took a year, but he made tremendous progress and now has better prospects at work and reads regularly with his children. NALA also works with immigrants, helping them to improve their English.
William Adkins will play at the market tomorrow. He has an enormous repertoire. Check to see if he knows your favorite. Meal and music run from 9 to 11 on Saturdays.

You may have noticed that we have considerably downsized our crafts this summer. We’re only hosting one craft per Saturday, if that, because we are so full with regular market vendors. Since we are first and foremost a farmers market, our produce and food vendors get priority. On the second Saturday of the month, which is tomorrow, you will find, Edith Bayless in the south end with her lovely sewn goods. On the third Saturday of the month, it will be our goat soap vendors Garden ‘N Goat. On the fourth, Rebecca Bristow is at the market with her glass and metal art and jewelry. As we enter fall, we’ll be able to host more crafters but until then, we’re all about food.
On Tuesday, the Pommerts will play. Stewart’s Bakery will have a couple of tasty supper choices. Carmine’s Pizza will not be at the market. Bill opened a restaurant featuring his wood fired pizza in Joplin and needs to be there from now on. 

The Free Kids Meal Tuesday is a hot dog, cucumber and tomato salad, sweet corn salad, and milk.
Thursday, Stewart’s Bakery is back for lunch, along with M & M Bistro. Scott Eastman will play. The Free Kids Meal soft tacos, market veggies/fruits, and milk.

We have literally tons of fresh local produce coming into every market. Please spread the word, pick up some flyers at the information desk to give to friends, family, co-workers and neighbors. High season only lasts about eight weeks and it should be our farmers most profitable weeks. I know the extra customers can be a hassle for our regular customers, but they are essential for the success of the farmers and of the market. When you have four times the amount of produce to sell, you need to double and triple your customers. Let’s make it the best high season ever. See you and your friends at the market!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Webb City Sentinel column - 7-1-16

We’re moving from the cool weather crops to the full summer season this week with sweet corn coming in by the truckload and the first of the cantaloupe and field tomatoes. This is my favorite time of year for corn. It is so tender that I can nibble on it right at the market without cooking. Just to prove it, try the recipe at the end of the column. I made it for Carol Parker’s Tuesday segment on KSN this week, using raw corn(the original recipe called for cooked corn). After we finished the segment, the first four members of KSN’s crew to come in snarfed it all up. It was very tasty.

Tomorrow’s breakfast benefits Crosslines, our regional food and clothing pantry. The volunteers cooking and serving it are from Central United Methodist Church and you know how those Methodists can cook. It’s sure to be good.

The Granny Chicks will liven up the market with their toe-tappin’ music tomorrow. Music and meal run from 9 to 11, while the market is open from 9 to noon on Saturdays.

The streetcar is running tomorrow!  Old No. 60 is making the rounds from 9 to noon since it’s the first Saturday of the month. And, as always, it’s free.

On the remote chance that you do not know the story of Old No. 60, let me tell you that it was originally part of the Southwest Missouri Electric Railroad Co. system that served most of the mining towns in our area. It was lovingly restored by volunteers some 30 years ago. 

According to the State Historical Society: “Interurban transportation in the Tri-State Mining District began in 1889, when A.H. Rogers organized the Twin City Railway Company, a horse-drawn car line between Webb City and Carterville. It was absorbed in 1892 by the Southwest Missouri Electric Railway Company….The railroad was in operation by 1893, linking the mining camps at Webb City and Joplin. The company continued to expand and at its height operated almost 100 miles of tracks… The railroad was a profitable enterprise for a decade, but it declined as the mineral areas in the Tri-State District began to play out. By 1927 the company was bankrupt and in receivership.”

The company was headquartered in Webb City because the mayor insisted on it if the company wanted to use city streets for their tracks. The company located its office, power house and car barn on Madison Street between Broadway and Daughtery. The whole West End business district followed. If you drive by now you can see the power house has become a skating rink and the employee association’s clubhouse continues now as the Historical Society’s Clubhouse (thank you, Ron Lankford). Many community and family events are held at the Clubhouse now – in fact about 100 events per year. 

The streetcar left a major imprint on Webb City, not the least of which is Main Street. Originally what we now call Broadway was Main Street. Mr. Webb didn’t have high expectations when he platted a two block Main Street for Webb City. When the streetcar system laid tracks on what we now call Main (and then called Allen), the businesses re-oriented to the streetcar track, completely changing how downtown developed. Next time you look at the market mural at Main and Broadway, notice that the mural is framed by an indention in the brickwork. That inset was originally an entry from the old Main Street which were bricked up when the building’s “front” was moved to face the streetcar line.

Don’t forget, the market will be open Tuesday, July 5th. The free kids meal will be a submarine sandwich with corn on the cob (donated by Braker Berry Farm) and cherry tomatoes. It’s served from 4:30 to 6:30. The Pommerts will play and our Market Lady, Carolyn Smith, is sampling white chocolate blackberry lasagna. Carmine’s will bake pizza to order and Stewart’s Bakery will have a couple of tasty choices for supper.

On Thursday, the free kids meal is served from 11 to 1 and the menu is smoked chicken leg, market veggies and a biscuit. Granny Shaffers will serve their fried catfish and potatoes and Thai wraps. Stewart’s Bakery will also serve lunch. Market Lady Carolyn Smith will serve samples of Blackberry Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Intriguing!

You never know what surprise you’ll come across at the market, but friendly vendors, fresh produce and good food and music are a certainty. See you at the market and have a great Fourth of July!

Fresh Corn Salsa
This easy, fat-free summer salsa is great for serving with chips or on top of grilled chicken or fish.
Yield: Makes 6 servings (Serving size: 1/3 cup salsa)
1 cup uncooked tender young corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1 jalapeƱo, finely chopped (include seeds for more heat)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, and mix together. Cover and let stand about 15 minutes to allow flavors to develop.