Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Webb City Sentinel market column - 2-21-18

I admit it, I’m proud of our market. So it’s always lovely to hear when others think highly of it too. I received an email today from a staff member of the Farmers Market Coalition, which is the national association for farmers markets. They have been tasked by the US Department of Agriculture to put together a short list of exemplary markets that personify this year’s National Farmers Market Week tagline: where farmers prosper and communities thrive. The email ended with “I hope you'll consider it - Webb City was a quick and mutually agreed suggestion by all staff familiar with your market!”  (I’m just pleased that any of their staff are familiar with our market, much less that we’d be put on a national list as exemplary.  .And it is a really short list - only 10 markets in the country)

I don’t know if being on the short list means we’ll be featured in a press release or if the USDA will do a media event at the market during Farmers Market Week or something else entirely. It’s just nice to be noticed in a good way.

Speaking of media, I’ve been working with 417 Magazine which is based in Springfield. They are doing a story in May on the market’s free kids meal. What great timing that is since the meals will start at the end of May. We’re hoping for even more kids to eat with us in 2018. If you’d like to be part of that wonderful program, give me a call. We could certainly use a volunteer counter and we’d love to have volunteers that would do tastings or demonstrations with the kids to teach them about local fruits and veggies. 

While we’re excited about the upcoming regular season, winter market continues to be special too.

Ghetto Taco will serve biscuit and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage and hashbrown casserole, plus a choice of juice or coffee. They have chicken noodle soup for eat-in or take-away.

Scott Eastman will be on the market stage.

And, of course, there will be lots of local produce, jams and jellies, cracked and shelled pecans, all natural meats, raw honey and more. Come enjoy our “exemplary market”. You are part of what makes us successful!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Webb City Sentinel market column 1/31/18

Chuck Lonardo is back at the market this Saturday sharing another family recipe – his mother’s beef stock. The versatile base can enhance any number of soups, sauces, stews and more. Stop by Chuck’s demo table to see stock prepared with flair.

Ghetto Taco will serve biscuits and gravy, sausage and bacon, hashbrown casserole and orange juice and coffee. They will also have chili mac for eat-in or take-out.

Our musician came down with whatever dread disease is going round, but by the time Saturday rolls around I’m sure we’ll have lovely music for everyone to enjoy.

This Saturday we’ll have fresh local produce from five farms. Fairhaven will have picked out pecans (and homemade candy and jams and jellies), while Misty Morning Farm will have cracked pecans (and produce).

Lettuce in one of Oakwoods Farms high tunnels. 
We’ll also have all-natural pork, lamb, beef and chicken, barbecued meats, honey, kettle corn, baked goods, hard candy, freshly roasted coffee beans, and honey. Both our soap makers will be at the market, as well as our fire starter vendor and our knife sharpener. 

Dinner's Ready! will have pork tenderloin with potatoes and carrots, chicken breast with potatoes and green beans, taco soup, chicken and noodles with carrots.  Each package comes frozen, ready to pop in the slow cooker.  The package serves 4 and costs $15.

And, of course, we’ll have everything but the meat in our heated and enclosed pavilion. Our poor ranchers operate out of their big trailers so they’ll be right outside the north entrance.

We will introduce our new food stamp matching token Saturday. The silver metal tokens represent a new funding stream for the program. (The old wooden matching tokens are still good, too.)  The market has used wooden tokens for food stamp purchases for over ten years. Three years ago we secured funding to match those purchases up to $25 per market with tokens good for uncut fruits and vegetables. The match program has served hundreds of food stamp customers, giving them more purchasing power for healthier diets, while increasing sales for our farmers to the tune of some $15,000 each year. That may sound like a lot, but compared to the amount spent with food stamps just in our county it is a small percentage. So we’ve never donemuch publicity about the program, not wanting to run out of funding mid-season. 

Our new funder, Fair Food Network, has challenged us to reach many many more food stamp customers so we will be using every opportunity to share the news. If you know anyone on food stamps, or if you belong to an organization that serves low income folks, let them know and let us know. We have flyers to help spread the word.

Recently we asked for comments from some of our food stamp customers. These are a few responses:

"I use the snap program at the farmers market ....It helps me out so much ...I have heart issues, this makes my heart healthy diet affordable for someone on fixed income."


"I was a recipient of this program. As a grandparent raising 3 beautiful granddaughters it is a blessing to me. My girls love not only coming to the market but being able to pick their own produce and learn from the educational classes offered. Not only do they enjoy the lesson we also shop then we come home and practice our cutting, preparation and cooking skills. They try a new vegetable every time we shop and have yet to find anything they don't like. Financially it helps my grocery money go just a little bit further, towards healthy fresh food! Thank you for this program!" 

"This program is an amazing win-win-win for our community! Low income folks get better access to quality local produce and foods, growers and producers get support to expand their products and farms, and more money stays local for our economy. As a participant, I really love seeing how successful this program is over any other 'charity' that addresses food insecurity. I'm also very happy that participants have freedom to choose foods appropriate for their own dietary needs. Furthermore, on foods that are new to me, and outside my cultural norm, I've been given educational information directly from the farmers on how to prepare and eat different produce. This has been a really fun and engaging experience for me particularly with the Hmong refugee immigrant farmers who have brought so many new and amazing flavors to my table! I love being able support them while learning new things."

Stop by the information table to learn more about the program.

See you at the market!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Webb City Sentinel market column - 1/24/17

The Kids Garden Club is back this Saturday. The children can make a face on a pot in which they will plant wheat grass seeds. With a little water and sunshine, their pot will soon have hair growing above the face!  Master Gardener Eric will also have information for adults about soil sampling and soil tests. If you garden, soil testing on an annual or bi-annual basis is key to improving your soil and production.   Thanks Brashear family for the photo of last year's pots.

Ghetto Taco will have breakfast burritos and a breakfast of biscuit and gravy, sausage. eggs and hashbrown casserole. They’ll also have potato soup for eat-in or take-out.  Scott Eastman is on the market stage.

Grandpa (Tami Fredrickson’s grandfather Jim Oxley) will be at the market with his delightful frilly dresses and simple sundresses for little girls.  That's my granddaughter Madeleine in her favorite dress.

Wiestside Barbecue is back with smoked meats, Yoder Farm with shrimp and William Lynn with his sharpening systems.

We’ll have an extensive selection of frozen meat, Madewell Pork with (you guessed it!) pork, Sunny Lane Farm with pork, beef, lamb and chicken and Garret Family Farm with pork, beef and chicken.
Five farms will have a wide selection of fresh produce like baby spinach, many kinds of lettuce, kale, boc choy, radishes, carrots, and storage crops like sweet potatoes and winter squash.

There will also be honey, baked goods, candy, eggs,  kettle corn and goat's milk soap.

We are so spoiled by the abundance of fresh local produce at the winter market. This became apparent at the state market association’s annual meeting last Saturday. I was visiting with the manager of the largest market in the state about the food stamp matching program which both our markets have. The matching tokens can only be spent on fresh fruits and vegetables and she told me that during the winter when they didn’t have any eligible produce she just didn’t give any matching tokens out to customers. I thought I hadn’t heard her correctly. “There are market days that you don’t have any fresh produce for sale?”  “Oh, yes.”  Oh, my.

We plan to change that situation. Our winter production conference which has so successfully trained farmers from across the region, including our own, is going on the road if all goes well. Every three years, both it and the Tomato Conference will return to Webb City and in the intervening two years the conferences will travel to other parts of the state.  We’ll take advantage of Extension’s statewide network of professionals, as well as other markets, to help with organization and implementation.
Another exciting collaboration with MU and LU Extension is our traveling kits project. The market received funding to create traveling teaching kits demonstrating various technologies including hand tools for small spaces like high tunnels to drones to my personal favorite, caterpillar and low tunnels. These tunnels are low cost season extension tools that are underused in our area. Our kit includes the equipment to bend the supports for the tunnels, making them even more affordable. Workshops are being planned, a rental system will be implemented so farmers can use the equipment after being trained(surprise, if you are a
Webb City market farmer, you can borrow the benders for free!).  We should soon see even more off-season production at the market.

We are creating our future and it looks delicious!

Join us Saturday for what may very well be the best selection of local winter produce in the state – and lots of other good things.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Webb City Sentinel market column - 1-17-2018

We’re excited about Saturday’s market!  First of all, it supposed to be about 30 degrees warmer than last Saturday, but best of all, we’ll have a great market to offer you. Last week despite the frigid temperatures we saw the community in action. 

Many, many people braved the weather to support Wiestside BBQ who sold their smoked meats at the market after having their restaurant damaged by fire. So many showed up that they sold out of meat in only 30 minutes. But do not despair if you arrived after 9:30. The Wiest’s were so encouraged by their sales that they have located a smoker to replace the one damaged in the fire and will be back at the market this Saturday with ribs, brisket and pulled pork.  

Yoder Farm will be back Saturday with live shrimp. They’ve been away from the market for a couple of months while they raised a new clutch. They hope to make this crop last for three to four markets, beginning with this one.

 And we now have a vendor that offers a service we’ve been wanting a long time – knife sharpening. Sharpener William Lynn won’t be at the market every week, so this Saturday would be a good day to bring your knives, scissors and rotary blades to be sharpened while you shop.

Ghetto Taco’s breakfast burritos were a big hit last week. They’ll be on the menu again this week, along with biscuits and gravy, sausage, and eggs.

William Adkins is performing on the center stage.

Five farms will be at the market with loads of fresh produce. We’ll have honey, jams and jellies, baked goods, freshly roasted coffee beans, farm fresh eggs, candy, pork, beef, lamb and chicken, pecans, both our soap makers and Delightful Gifts with their firestarters. Dinner’s Ready will have frozen ready-for-the-crockpot meals – pork tenderloin with potatoes and carrots, chicken and noodles with carrots, chicken breast with potatoes and green beans, taco soup, and white chicken chili. Each is $15 and serves four.

See you at the market Saturday!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Webb City Sentinel market column - 1-10-18

The Kids Garden Club is back this Saturday. Our wonderful volunteer Master Gardener Eric will lead the children in cloning their own jade plants and will also do a demonstration for adults and kids on cloning a pineapple. The club is free and fun and will be at the market most second and fourth Saturdays. Eric not only provides the ideas, labor and materials but also secures a $1,000 grant for the market from his employer, American Water. Thank you, Eric and American Water!  (photo - Eric making balloon flowers last summer)
We have a new vendor starting tomorrow that is providing a sharpening service. Twice As Sharp AND Edge-Pro Sharpening Systems by William Lynn. Bring your knives, scissors and rotary blades in for a make over. No need to have dull tools while William offers this service at the Market.

We welcome a special vendor Saturday – WiestSide BBQ. WiestSide suffered a fire at their place of business on Friday and have had to shut down for repairs. Their walk-in cooler however was undamaged and the health department verified that all the food was safe so they will set up at the market Saturday to sell their smoked meats (smoked in a smoker, not in the fire!)  They will have:
Brisket, Ribs, Pork, Turkey, Chicken, plus sides – cheesy corn, BBQ beans, BBQ sauce, slaw and Mac salad. Everything will be packaged up cold with reheating instructions. 

I hope you will stop by and lend support to this local business and enjoy their tasty food.

Ghetto Taco will serve breakfast – a choice of biscuit and gravy or breakfast burritos. Richard Hugh Roberts sings.

Dinner’s Ready! will have pork tenderloin with potatoes and carrots, taco soup, chicken & noodles with carrots and white chicken chili. Each package is $15 and serves 4. The ingredients are frozen and can be defrosted the night before for a shorter cooking time (4 to 5 hours) or can be popped right into the slow cooker frozen (6 to 8 hours). I made the pork loin today and it was fall-apart tender. I used it for a cooking segment on KSN. The “cooking” part took all of about 1 minute since all you do is pop it into the cooker so I had plenty of time to talk about the amazing abundance of produce at the market in the dead of winter. The pork dish was abundant too, but it sure didn’t last long once the TV crew started sampling.

I stopped by Braker Farm on my way to the station and picked up loads of butter lettuce, loose leaf lettuce, some of the sweetest carrots you could hope to eat, and radishes that Wendy Braker described as “so mild you’d think it was candy”, plus sweet potatoes and kale. That's a shot of their lettuce above!

We are entering the best time of year for greens when many varieties pour in (including baby spinach), all lush and fresh because they love the cool temperatures of the unheated high tunnels. Even when the temperatures drop into single digits, the greens thrive in the tunnels with just an extra layer of row cover.

There will also be the storage crops like sweet potatoes and winter squash to bring extra richness to your meals.

We’ll have a great selection of pork Saturday because we’ll have Madewell Pork as well as Sunny Lane with pork, beef, lamb and chicken and Garret Family Farm with pork, beef and chicken.
Make 2018 your year to eat local all year round. There are a lot of places where growers and ranchers do not sell in the winter because of extreme weather or the lack of winter producers or, for that matter, a lack of a winter farmers market to sell at. So kudos for our producers, for the market and for the customers that make it all succeed. Eat well with us!