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 EventBrite.com 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!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Webb City Sentinel market column - 5/29/19

Mike Wiggins of Granny Shaffers fame stopped by the market yesterday. He was picking up tomatoes for the restaurant. I love a restaurant that goes the extra mile to bring fresh and local to their customers. 

Mike commented that the produce looked terrific, which it does. The main reason for that that our farmers have high tunnels. We do have some produce coming from the fields, but the farmers with two or more tables loaded with produce are mainly harvesting from their high tunnels which generally are unaffected by the rains. 

I hadn’t thought of this until Mike made his comment and I pointed out the farms at the market yesterday – Misty Morning has two tunnels, E & O has three, the Lee Family Farm has two, Yang Family Farm has three, Oakwoods has three (that's Doug putting up their third tunnel last year), Nature Valley has one, Harmony Hill has two, and Braker Farm has four.  That’s a lot of protected growing.

And we have at least three other farms which weren’t at the market yesterday who also have tunnels.

It all started over ten years ago when the market first partnered with MU Extension to hold high
tunnel workshops. Then we began our Winter Production Conferences which brought in national experts to teach our farmers, along with farmers from as far away as the Texas panhandle.
Training, state and federal support, and marvelous farmers are why even with difficult weather the market was loaded with fresh local produce yesterday – and will be tomorrow and Saturday. Oh, and there’s one more reason – customers!  The market just wouldn’t work without our customers who brave the rain or traffic to buy our farmers’ produce.

Someone else who benefits from our abundant produce are the kids who are also enjoying the taste of freshness. These are the menus for the Free Kids Meal.

Wednesday at the Webb City Library from noon to 1:  turkey, ham, and cheese wraps, apple sauce, market sugar snap peas, and milk.
Thursday at the market from 11 to 1: grilled hot dog, with apple sauce, market veggies, and milk.
Saturday at the market from 9 to 11:30:  Ham and egg casserole with a banana, milk and juice.

Tuesday at the market: homemade meatballs with spaghetti, apple sauce, market veggies, and milk.

The meal is free to all kids aged 1 through 18 regardless of where they live.

On Thursday the Webb City Police Department will be doing a free Kid Print at the Kids Tent. Parents and guardians can have their kids finger printed and take home the card. Hopefully it will just become a fun keepsake, but in the mean time they’ll have it in case of emergency.

FitFoods is serving roasted chicken, baked potato, salad and lemonade for $7 Thursday. MU Extension nutrition educators will be at the market with a good-for-you recipe to sample. Randy Corbin is on the market stage.

 Saturday is another special market, made even more so by the return of Marshal Mitchell. It’s been
several years since he’s been on the market stage but before he got so busy being in demand elsewhere he was a regular at the market. Likely he’ll have his cowboy hat on and be sitting on a saddle Saturday and I’m expecting his signature farewell of “Happy Trails to You.”  It will be a treat to have him back.

The Friends of the Webb City Library serve Cooking for a Cause. Biscuit and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausages, hashbrown casserole, market tomatoes slices, and coffee or juice for $6. The profits from your meal will help fund Clickety Clack and other Friends projects.

The Kids Garden Club meets Saturday and it’s all about sunflowers.

Tuesday Ghetto Taco will be at the market with street tacos, plus beans and rice if you want the full meal – which I always do because Carlotta’s beans are wonderful. Yoga starts at 5:45. Sorry, I don’t know who is playing so it will be a surprise!

What won’t be surprising?  Loads of fresh and local, good meals, good music, good fun, and good folks. See you at the market!

Update - Max Barnett is playing Tuesday.