Thursday, June 4, 2020

Webb City Sentinel market column - Wednesday, June 3, 2020

 Gentle readers, this will be a short column.  I lost my biggest cheerleader and best supporter on Saturday.  Though dementia had robbed my mother, Frances Hardison Nichols, of many of the strengths she honed as a parent, a community organizer, and all round special person, she held on to her social skills, continuing to charm all who met her with her graciousness to the end.  She had a long, productive life, but I miss her too much right now to focus on the market.  Luckily the market no longer depends on just one person so it will continue to be there for all of us.

The market is open tomorrow from 11 to 2.  We have a new food truck, Slider Shack, and, you guessed it, they serve sliders and sides. 

The market will host it's first Cooking for a Cause in a long time this Saturday.  The Webb City High School Redettes will serve scrambled eggs, hashbrown casserole, sausages, biscuit and gravy (or jelly), and juice or coffee.  You can get breakfast to go, or eat it on the market picnic tables, or bring your own blanket for a picnic, all while supporting our school's dance team.
Jake and Corky are on the market stage.

On Saturday, the market premiers “Put Your $ Where Your Heart Is”.  We hope you will toss your change in the market's donation jar at the information table every time you shop.  If all, or even half, of our customers get into the habit of putting in a quarter or two, we can ensure the market thrives long into the future.  We're often told how much the market is appreciated, what excellent farmers we have helped train, how important the market programs are.  To keep the market at its best, we need financial support from our community and we hope this is a painless way to do that.  So please toss some change into the jar as you pass the information table.

Tuesday will be Taco Tuesday again with Ghetto Taco and Cochinita Mexican Street Food.  Randy Corbin and Phil Greer are on the market stage.

The Free Kids Meal this week will be served up hot to-go in the tent north of the pavilion:

Tomorrow, lunch is served from 11 to 1:  grilled beef hot dogs, whole wheat chips, carrots, a banana, and milk

Saturday, served from 9 to 1:  Breakfast is a choice of biscuit and gravy with fruit and milk or a sausage biscuit with fruit and milk.  Kids will also receive a bonus brown bag lunch.

Please remember to socially distance while at the market.  Tuesday and Thursday markets are the easiest for that.  It's best to plan to wear a mask during the first hour of any market day as its always fairly crowded when the market opens.  If you don't like wearing a mask, please come during the last two hours of market when it's less crowded.  Remember, you are protecting our community, our farmers, our customers, our volunteers, when you keep it safe at the market.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Webb City Sentinel column - Wednesday, May 27, 2020

 What a wonderful flower season we've had. It's nearing a close after what has been a record flower
season, both because one of our main flower farmers planted much more than usual and because our customers were in the mood for flowers. When Owen of E & O decided to go all out this winter and ordered 40,000 plugs (that's what the small flower starts are called), he expected to have to sell at Pittsburg and Joplin, as well as at Webb City. Then the pandemic hit and he wondered if he'd made a terrible mistake. He ended up selling almost all of them just at Webb City. So thank you, Webb City customers for supporting the E & O farm (and buying almost 40,000 plants!). For myself, I'm enjoying the basket I got from Owen, as well as one from Braker Berry Farm, every single day as my grandchildren and I while away our afternoons on the front porch swing.

Though flowers are about gone, we still have loads of herb plants grown by the Lee Family Farm and Nature Valley Farm. I can testify to the pleasure of herbs. I just had a delicious caprese salad featuring basil clipped this evening from our plants purchased from the Lees. It doesn't get any fresher than that, and basil is a very easy plant to grow. Ours are growing, with a variety of other market herbs, in planters on the deck railing. No weeding, no bending. Just watering. Life is good.

And life is getting better on our on-line store. We went through a rough patch in May when we had little to no produce on-line, but the harvest has finally come in. Braker Berry Farm and Harmony Hill both have loads on tomatoes listed in the store and Nature Valley plans to add produce from their diverse farm soon. Of course, we also have baked goods from Harmony Hill, various flavors of popcorn and pork rinds from Kings Kettle Korn, seasoned salts and other seasonings from DnD Salts, honey and honey products from Helm Family Farm, freshly roasted coffee beans from Juniper Coffee Roastery, sauces and pastas from MaMa JoJos, a vast selection of meats from Sunny Lane Farm, and Savory Sauce. If you plan to shop in the pavilion on Tuesday, which is pick-up day for the on-line store, you should check out the store. Tuesday is a great day to shop the market because parking and traffic are easy and the pavilion is uncrowded and you can make it even better by ordering some things on line – like DnD Salts and MaMa JoJo's who only sell in the pavilion on Saturdays. You can also  order produce that normally requires standing in line like Brakers tomatoes. You will have more choices and less hassle. Just shop in the pavilion to fill in what you didn't order on-line and then pick up your on-line order between 5 and 7 pm before you head home. It's good for you and it helps us keep the crowds down in the pavilion.

Another positive at the market – the Free Kids Meals. Now that we've gone to the summer schedule, the kids meals are served up hot to-go in the yellow and white striped tent north of the pavilion. That's allowed the chefs more menu choices than when we were doing hundreds of meals prepped ahead on Saturdays. Just look at the yummy menus for this week:

Tomorrow, served from 11 to 1, lunch of chicken, cheese and spinach quesadillas, applesauce, and milk

 Saturday, served from 9 to 11, breakfast of ham & cheese breakfast casserole, muffin, orange juice, and milk, plus a bonus brown bag lunch of pizza sliders, baby carrots, applesauce, and milk

Tuesday, served from 4:30 to 6:30 pm, supper of barbecued chicken, brown rice, mixed vegetables, fruit juice, and milk

The meals are free to any child, aged 1 through 18, regardless of residency or income. You do not have to bring the child for whom you are picking up, but you will need to show a photo of yourself with the child or children so we can do a head count.

Isn't it great to have meals back at the market?  Tomorrow Songbird Kitchen serves egg rolls and other Asian goodies to go. You are welcome to eat at the picnic tables north of the pavilion, as long as you observe social distancing as you would in any other Webb City eatery. It's a city requirement, so please abide by it. Otherwise, the city might remove our picnic tables! Scott Eastman is on the market stage.

 Braker Berry Farm, the Lee Family Farm, Nature Valley, Vang Garden (with produce and beautiful cut flowers), Harmony Hill (with produce and baked goods), Helm Family Farm (honey), and Juniper Coffee Roastery will be at the market on Thursday.

 On Saturday, Drew Pommert is playing. MaMa JoJos will serve pastas and sauces, ready-to-eat to-go and pastas for you to cook at home. In addition to most of the Thursday vendors, we expect 2 Ts Soap, DnD Smoked, Garretts (meat and eggs), Sunny Lane (meats), King Kettle Korn, Redings Mill Bread Co., Sunflower Bakery, Terrell Creek Cheese, and produce growers E & O, Fairhaven, Misty Morning Farm, Pate's Orchard (no peaches yet, folks!), Still Waters, and OakWoods. The Saturday market has lots of choices, but it draws a lot of people, making it even more important that everyone is mindful of social distancing and patient as we try to keep everyone safe. Masks at the market are always appreciated, especially on Saturdays.

Which brings us back to Tuesday,  Taco Tuesday that is! Ghetto Taco is making our day every week with their renowned street tacos. Max Barnett will be on the market stage.

High season, here we come!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Webb City Sentinel market column - 10/9/19

I had an unexpected treat last night. We held our annual Harvest Meal when the vendors and volunteers get together to celebrate the end of the summer season. It’s always a fun gathering, made even more so by having several former vendors join us. And while Bert Ott’s Bavarian cream cake was certainly a treat for those who enjoyed it, my dessert was delicious watermelon brought by the Brubackers of Harmony Hill Farm. I do not expect fall watermelons to be very good. Typically they don’t have much flavor and are pale cousins to August melons, but the watermelon the Brubackers brought was bright red, full of flavor, and just the right texture. If you, like me, love watermelon, be sure to pick one up Saturday. With cold weather upon us, it may be our last chance.

The last of summer - photo taken last Saturday.
At the harvest meal, the market always gives out two awards – The Market Champion and The Golden Washrag. The market champion award is given to a community member or volunteer who has gone above and beyond for the market. Past winners include the Perry Foundation and the Perry family who have been big boosters of the market since it began, Bob Foos, editor of this paper, Tom Reeder, director of the parks, Shon Bishop and Patrick Byers, extension specialists who have provided so much training for our farmers, as well as many volunteers. This year’s market champion was our youngest. Kharlie volunteered at most markets for almost a year until she turned 16 and began a paying job elsewhere. Usually she helped at the information table, but she took on any project we assigned her from decorating the pavilion for Christmas to running the kids’ craft table.

The first recipient of The Golden Washrag Award was Robin Green. Part of the Green family who have sold at the market since the second year, Robin had washed our picnic tables at every market during the entire year, hence the name of the award. The award is given to a vendor or vendors that have made important contributions to the market. Nancy Rasmussen won it the second year for cleaning our bathrooms every week for a year. During the year of the Joplin tornado our Hmong growers won as a group for donating tons of produce to feed recovery volunteers. This year’s recipient is Karen Scott who served as our board president for two years and as vice president this year. She has provided important leadership and guidance for the market during our time of transition. Farming is her second career, her first being in the corporate world and she brings strong business experience that has served us well.
In addition to many other roles at the market, Karen served as Fue Yang's mentor
at the Market's Year-Round Growing Education Center located at the Yang Farm. 
Now you may have noticed that phrase “time of transition”. Last Saturday the board hired Rachael Lynch to serve the market as market manager. While I will continue writing this column for the time being, my official title is now market volunteer. 

I ran into Cynthia Schwab at a Pro-Musica concert last week. I have told her before that she was my role model. She built an important organization that benefits the region and managed to hand over the reins after many years to new leaders. Last week’s wonderful concert demonstrates that Pro-Musica is just as strong now as it was during her years of leadership. That was my hope for the market. And I think we’ve done it. We have a capable, energetic, creative manager and a strong board to lead the market into the future. With our partnerships with our vendors, the city, our customers and others in the community, I believe the market will continue to have an important role in the life of Webb City and the region.

Winter is coming…  I’m hoping against hope that the park workers are able to put the sides on the pavilion before Saturday. We’ll know by Thursday. The sides were still at the repair shop yesterday. But we plan to forge on with or without sides.

Clickety Clack - We’re Reading Down the Track runs from 9 to noon. Free tickets are available at but are not required to ride. We just use the reservation system to spread the riders out. The featured book is The Little Red Caboose. Our readers are Steve McCrary from 9 to 10, Gary Stubblefield from 10 to 11, and Cheri Dawson from 11 to noon. The streetcar leaves the station just west of the market about every 15 minutes.

There will be a free kid’s craft – yes, it’s a little red caboose! – at the market.

There will also be a coloring table at the market with free balloons as part of CROPwalk which is taking place at King Jack Park this weekend.

A Cooking for a Cause breakfast benefiting CROPwalk will be served from 8 to 11. It will be in the pavilion if the sides are on. If the sides are not on, breakfast will be served in the classroom of the market kitchen. One of the double doors on the north side of the kitchen will be marked. Just come on in. Whichever location it’s in, breakfast will be biscuit and gravy or jelly, scrambled eggs, sausages, hashbrown casserole, and juice or coffee for $6.

Our Fall Fotos are also on Saturday. Bob Foos takes fall portraits from 9:30 to 11:30 so organize your family, friends and pets or just sit for your own portrait among the market’s mums and pumpkins beside the red barn. Two photo packages are available for $15 each (8 wallets with two 4x5s or 8 wallets with one 5x7). Add an 8x10 to either package and the total cost is $20. You can also order extra wallets, 4x5s and 5x7s in case you want to share the photos with family and friends.

So bundle up for a brisk fall market full of fun, friends, and good things to eat. Let’s make some memories!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Webb City Sentinel market column - 6/19/19

We’ve had some fun firsts this week. Our first Clickety Clack – We’re Reading Down the Track was Saturday. Despite awful weather, the street car was 90% full on every ride.

Next month we hope to tighten the schedule so we can fit in 3 extra runs because no one (at least no little ones) will want to miss Pete the Cat’s Train Ride on July 20.

I was amazed Saturday at the crowd in the pavilion. The wind was brutal and yet there were hundreds of people braving the weather to get their fresh produce, local meats, fried pies, flower baskets, and more. We have remarkable customers.

 Last night was our first real Eat Street at the Market. We tried to start it last month but floods interfered. This month was a success. There were four food trucks plus two dessert/snack vendors. The music was lovely - Drew Pommert for the first two hours, Ozark Raga for the second two hours, with some music by the Joplin High School cast of Grease, plus students of Pinocchio School of Dance. Almost 200 kids enjoyed a hearty meal of ham, new potatoes, and other market veggies. Lots of new customers came to the market, as well as our regulars. The next Eat Street will be on Tuesday, July 16, and we expect it will be even better.

Thursday we’ll have lots of hanging baskets. E & O still has plenty loaded with flowers, plus flowering bedding plants. The Carl Junction FFA will be at the market for the first time with hanging baskets featuring greenery such as ferns, wandering jew, and philodendron. The student group will use money from their sales for next year’s greenhouse projects. You might say it will be seed money.

FitFoods serves Frito chili pie with topping, plus pink lemonade for $5 tomorrow. Songbird Kitchen will have Asian cuisine. The Free Kids Meal Thursday is pepperoni pizza sliders, new potatoes, and cucumber slices, plus milk.

Max Barnett is on the market stage. 

Stop by the information table and sample some market made pizza sauce with zucchini sticks.  It’s part of a new market project that you can learn more about at the end of this column.

The delightful Ms Deb returns tomorrow for Storytime at the Market from 12:30 to 1 by the kids tent.
While she selects books suitable for 3 to 6 year olds, I noticed last week that kids of all ages (and a few parents and grandparents) were enjoying her engaging tales and songs.

Saturday the market is going to the birds! As part of our continuing celebration of our 20th year we’re learning about the birds that supply the market with eggs. Garrett Farm is bringing a chicken for folks to see and Mad Quail is bringing a quail. They’ll be for looking only. Handling isn’t good for the bird and is pretty much a no-go for the health department. The birds will be located under the shade of a tree between the kids tent and the market pavilion. 
The Free Kids Meal will be yogurt oatmeal pancakes, a sausage patty, fruit juice, and milk.

In the pavilion on Saturday, you’ll hear the lively sounds of the Granny Chicks. Breakfast is served by the culinary arts students of Franklin Tech. They surprised us with the non-profit they’re supporting – it’s the market!! You can enjoy scrambled eggs, hashbrown casserole, sausage, biscuit and gravy, farm fresh tomato slices and coffee or juice for $6 while supporting the children’s program at the market.

Tuesday, we’re open from 4 to 6. The Free Kids Meal will be nachos with zucchini salsa. Ghetto Taco and Songbird Kitchen will have supper for the rest of us. Yoga starts at 5:45. 

And at every market there’ll be lots of fresh local produce. It is really pouring in now and we finally have enough to start a new project – value-adding surplus produce. Value-adding is an agriculture term for changing a raw product like tomatoes into something more valuable like salsa. As I write this our chef is at the market kitchen combining wonderful tomatoes from Green’s Greenhouse with zucchini from Harmony Hill, squash and carrots from Yang Family Farm, fresh herbs from Oakhill, and onions from E & O into the pizza sauce for Thursday’s pepperoni sliders for the kids meal. We’re combining the abundance from our farms with the mastery of our chef and the capability of our commercial kitchen and we expect top quality sauce fit for royalty – and our kids. (Photo below - chef skills + market kitchen commercial equipment = peeled tomatoes in minutes!)

Value-adding is a new step for the market. We appreciate that the Missouri Department of Agriculture providing us with a short-term grant to allow us to give this a try. With this season’s experience to build on, we hope in coming years to provide more sales for our farmers and great food for our kids. Who knows, we might even create a market brand and invite our customers buy some to take home.
Until then, sample the kids’ pizza sauce at the information table and be inspired to create something special in your own kitchen.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Webb City Sentinel market column - 6/11/19

It’s berry time at the market! Yesterday we were expecting blueberries from Robertson Farms. They came with a full load, but we also had berries from Braker Farm (blueberries), Pates Orchard (blackberries), Mooberrie Farm (blueberries), Yang Family Farm (strawberries – but not many!), and Agee Herbs, Fruit, and Vegetables (blackberries and black raspberries). We will soon be knee deep in berries so get ready!  Time to eat fresh, bake goodies, and freeze for the winter. Load up while you can – it’s berry season.

Today the market serves lunch at the Webb City Library from noon to one. The kids will eat ham & cheese sliders, fresh sugar snap peas and fresh blueberries, plus white or chocolate milk. All children, 1 through 18, are welcome. The Children’s Summer Reading Program for elementary kids starts right after lunch.

Thursday, the free kids meal is Frito pie, plus cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices.
For adults, FitFoods will have vegetarian baked ziti, chicken Florentine, or asparagus and bow tie pasta, plus salad and garlic bread for $7. Songbird Kitchen plans to be at the market with egg rolls and other Asian treats. Drew Pommert will be on the market stage.

MU Extension will teach you how to prepare Swiss chard, with garlic scapes and bacon bits. And you’ll get a taste too!  Garlic scapes are in season right now. The late Frank Reiter, known as The Market Dude for his creative cooking demonstrations, introduced me to scapes. It’s a hidden treasure for both the farmer and the diner. In order to encourage garlic to concentrate its energy on developing the bulb, the farmer cuts the green top off the plant before it flowers. Until we knew better around here, the farmer just pitched the tops in the compost pile. But guess what? Garlic tops, aka scapes, are tasty!  Mince them up and add them to stir fry or a sauté or frittata and they lend a mild garlic flavor. Grab a sample tomorrow at the Extension table. 

We debut a new market event tomorrow – Story Time at the Market. Our newest volunteer, Ms. Deb, who is a retired teacher, will be near the Kids Tent to share the joy of reading from 12:30 to 1. Join her for stories, poems, and songs about bugs and a funny donkey. Activities are targeted to 3-6 years old, but all are welcome.

There will be lots of kids at the market tomorrow. In addition, to the children at the kids tent having lunch (we’ve averaging 200 kids each market day lately!) we’re expecting 60 students from Sarcoxie for a field trip. They visit the market and learn about where their food comes from, listen to the music, and ride the streetcar, and then they get to go to the playground and splash pad. What a fun field trip!

Speaking of the splash pad, a friend who works for the Joplin Globe was at the market yesterday with a couple of other staffers. They’d been doing a photo shoot at the splash pad and playground area for a feature in JMagazine. We all agreed that King Jack Park was the place to be this summer!

Saturday Clickety Clack – We’re Reading Down the Track rolls for the first time this year. We’ll be reading a Berenstain Bears book – All Aboard. Free tickets are available on Eventbrite starting at noon today (you can also get them on the market’s facebook page). If you can’t get a ticket, come on anyway. We usually have extra seats, especially between 9 and 10 am.

Webb City’s Queen of Crafts Lisa Sweet will be at the Clickety Clack craft table just south of the Kids Tent. She created a coloring page based on the book for the kids to color.

Cooking for a Cause will be staffed by volunteers from Webb City Masonic Lodge #512 and Webb Chapter #204, Order of the Eastern Star. They will donate their profits to Duo for Dogs which provides service and support dogs to help with mobility assistance, veteran assistance, healthcare facilities, and more. Farm fresh scrambled eggs, biscuit and gravy, sausage, hashbrown casserole, and juice or coffee for $6. 

If you’re looking for lunch, stop by MaMa JoJo’s for some fabulous fresh pasta dishes (they have lattes and other fancy drinks too). FitFoods will have protein bites, fruit cups, salads, and wraps.
Trilogy will be on the market stage.

Chuck Lonardo shares his culinary secrets Saturday with "Veggies 2.0, cooking with onions".

Tuesday is Eat Street!  It’s a food truck feast. Already confirmed are Culver Creek Eatery (BBQ), MaMa JoJo’s Pasta, Songbird Kitchen, Danny Jim’s PB&J, Ghetto Taco, Kings Kettle Corn, and Squeezers Lemonade.

Eat Street is open from 4 to 8:30. It will be located just west of the market between the market and the kitchen so you will probably want to enter the market from the south entrance from Hall Street and Garrison Street where there will be plenty of parking. Handicapped parking will still be located north of the pavilion.

Drew Pommert will be on the market stage during market and another musician takes over at 6:30. The chalk art area will be set up for kids near the music. There will also be a photo booth, so bring a camera – or a smart phone.

The market will be open from 4 to 7 as usual, though some vendors may stay later. Eat Street is open till 8:30.

The free kids meal is served from 4:30 to 6:30 on Tuesdays. The menu is ham and market potatoes with other market veggies or fruit. 

Kids Yoga starts at 5 north of the kids tent. Adult Yoga starts at 5:45 north of the streetcar barn. Both classes are donation-based and for beginner to intermediate.

As you can tell from the length of this column, we have begun the high season in earnest and it only going to get better from here on out. Come join the fun!