Monday, December 29, 2008

No Market January 2

There will be no Winter Market on Friday, January 2 (we find that folks get confused by a holiday and don't remember that it's market day). The regular Winter Market schedule will resume on the 3rd Friday of January.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tomatoes for Thanksgiving!!

We just got word from John Pate of Pates Orchard in Stockton that he and Barb will bring over 150 pounds of tomatoes picked fresh from their high tunnel to Wednesday's Holiday Market. Barb will also have her jams and jellies for sale. Made from fruits grown right at their farm, they make a wonderful gift for the holidays - perfect for gifts to friends and co-workers, and just right for a Christmas stocking.

Details on the Holiday Market are below.

The Pate's high tunnel in the Fall.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Holiday Market

Bearing in mind that I'm half way around the world in Fremantle, Western Australia, here's some info on the Holiday Market. We're expecting two of our meat vendors - Madewell Pork and Flintrock Bison (and elk). If you plan to buy meat for serving on Thanksgiving, be sure to contact them ahead of time so the meat will be defrosted when you pick it up on Wednesday.

Sunny Lane Farms (the last time I heard) was not planning to be at the Holiday Market with their beef and chicken because of a scheduling conflict with the processor. However, all our meat folks should be at the Winter Market (11 to 2 under the pavilions) this Friday.

We're also expecting several of our bakers, possibly a grower with high tunnel tomatoes, and honey, honey products, jams, jellies, and candy at the Holiday Market.

The Holiday Market is the day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday, November 26) from 11 to 1 at the Clubhouse, 115 North Madison, between Daughtery and Broadway.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Winter Market Begins

The first Winter Market will be this Friday, November 7. We're expecting meats and baked goods, as well as some produce, jams and jellies, and pecans.

The market is the first and third Friday of each month from 11 to 2. Nancy Rasmussen, "the chicken lady", will manage the Winter Market and ring the opening bell.

The market will be in the north market pavilion in King Jack Park.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sentinel column - 10/31

I have just returned from a conference in Kansas City on refugees and agriculture. Watoua (Scott) Yang and I presented information on Webb City’s market and the market’s work with immigrant farmers. It was a little intimidating to find our presentation titled on the agenda as “Farmers Markets: Preparing refugees to participate in a high performance Farmers Market”. We have a nice market, but “high performance”?

Frankly, I’m not sure that description fits our market, but I do hope that our market is a good fit for Webb City. Unlike national franchise businesses, markets need to vary according to the needs and desires of the local community. Farmers markets should be the epitome of local – local produce, local farmers, local customers, and in our case, local non-profits and local musicians. It’s always fun to have visitors from distant places, but we are here to serve local folks. So when I give presentations, I emphasize that our market isn’t a template for any others. Steal a few good ideas, but make your market your own. Communities are different, and their markets should be different, as well.

Some things that seem to catch the attention of audiences:

Cooking for a Cause and our engagement of so many non-profits in the community as well as the support of our customers for those non-profits. I think it’s probably the only program of its kind in the country and we couldn’t do it without the help of our super volunteer Donna Krudwig and the availability of the certified kitchen at Central United Methodist Church.

Donna once ran the senior center in Joplin and received extensive food safety training for her responsibilities there. With new volunteers coming in each week, often with no background in health department regulations, Donna’s supervision is critical in making sure that Cooking for a Cause operates safely.

Our music and the support we receive from the Missouri Arts Council. We are the only market in the state that has, to date, received grants from MAC in support of live traditional music. Our vendors think the music is so important that this year we budgeted about one-half of our annual income to supplement that grant so we can have music at every market. (We budgeted another one-quarter to subsidize Cooking for a Cause.) You might ask why the arts council and the vendors would commit funding to music at a market. It is because we believe it contributes significantly to our atmosphere, that it brings a real sparkle to the market and that it helps us reach our goal of being a community gathering place. We also think it makes us stand out from other markets that don’t have music or only have casual street performers. The music makes every market an event.

It also provides musicians a venue to perform and some small compensation, which makes for a stronger arts community. We are very fortunate in this area to have some very talented musicians. It is important that they have a place to perform, as well as gas money to get here.

Our education program is far more extensive than that of any other market I have come across. We work closely with University of Missouri Extension to provide training and workshops to our growers and to the public. Our work with our immigrant growers has drawn national attention, but I think all our education efforts from the Kids Community Garden to our five workshops last year on such topics as attracting and protecting pollinators and improving soil fertility have been valuable. Most of our growers have participated in workshops on food safety from field to market. (That seemed to catch the attention of the folks from USDA at the conference.)

Our installation of wireless EBT, debit and credit puts us among a handful of markets nationwide. Installing EBT (electronic benefit transfer, the new term for food stamps) in farmers markets will be a major push in the next few years by the USDA. Increasing access to fresh, local produce, often at a lower price than otherwise available, is seen as promoting good nutrition and as a wise use of public funds.

Plus to my way of thinking, it makes a lot of sense for everyone’s pocket book. After all, literally millions of dollars go through EBT to purchase produce in the state of Missouri. When spent at a farmers market, those dollars go directly to local growers and are spent again in the region. When spent at a grocery store, much of the dollars go to the grocery store which may not be locally owned and almost all of the dollars that go to growers selling through grocery stores go either out of state (to places like California) or out of the country. I’m a firm believer in sending our dollars around locally as many times as we can before we send them off to other parts of the country or world.

I could go on about what a good partner the schools are, our small business incubation program, the great support we’re given by the media, including this paper, the wonderful sense of family among our vendors (which is apparently relatively unusual at farmers markets), and our great group of volunteers, but then I wouldn’t have room to tell you what you really need to know which is what’s happening at the market today!

Lunch is chili with all the fixin’s, brownie and drink for $5. The Loose Notes will play during lunch. The market has commissioned Hazel’s Bakery to make a Halloween cookie for every child that visits today, and the Lions Club will have their drawing at 1 p.m. for their 3-wheeler.

Today is the last day of the regular season. Next week we become the Winter Market. It will be the first and third Friday of each month from 11 to 2.

It’s been a great season. Thanks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sentinel column - 10/24

At the start of the market season last spring Paul Jackson asked me if I knew anything about a drawing the Lions Club was having on the last day of market. He’d seen it advertised. I didn’t know a thing about it then but it wasn’t long before we heard from the Lions Club and sure enough they planned to do a drawing on our last day. Now that day is approaching. Next Friday, which is our last regular market day, the Lion’s Club will hold their drawing at 1 p.m.

Until then you can still buy tickets for $1 at their market booth today and next Friday. The prize is a street-legal electric three-wheeler and battery charger. It’s a one-person vehicle with storage in the rear and it travels up to 18 miles between charges.

It was a pleasant discovery that the Lions thought the market a good place for their project. One of our goals is to be a community gathering place. A friend in the Audubon Society once described the market as grand central station for local non-profits which is just what we want to be, but before your organization goes too public with plans to be at the market, give us a call so we can help your project be successful.

I continue to be surprised at the abundance at the market so late in the season. We are still loaded with green beans, peppers, squash, zucchini and a host of other veggies and we have a passel of growers.

It’s supposed to be chilly today. You may find me hovering around the chili roaster at Broken Wire’s stand. It’s warm and the peppers smell wonderful as they’re roasted. Owner Tom Lewis did a brisk business last week and I expect he’ll do the same today. It only takes a few minutes to get a gourmet treat unavailable at any other farmers market in the state.

Lunch will be just right for the weather – all-you-can-eat ham and beans, plus cornbread, fruit cobbler and a drink for $5. There will be both brown beans and white beans (that’s pinto and Great Northerns to you discriminating diners) and the beauty is that you don’t have to make a choice. You can have a mixed bowl or a bowl of each if you’re hungry enough. Actually, I’m not absolutely certain the white beans aren’t Navy or limas, personally I go with pinto every time.

If you’re a huge fan of ham and beans like my husband, you might want to bring a food storage container to the market at about 12:30 and see if there’s enough for you to buy some to enjoy this weekend. And there’s almost always plenty of cornbread to buy for taking home.

We’ll enjoy the music of Jack and Lee Ann Sours during lunch today. I hope you will take time to thank them for playing. They have entertained us as a duet, as part of a trio with Bailed Green and Wired Tight or with the quartet called the Plainfolks two or three times each month this season. The Sours drive up from south of Neosho and the musicians that play with them come from Pineville and Springfield. They know that we really appreciate them, but I’m sure they’d like to hear it from our customers as well.

Next Friday will be our last regular market day. Lunch will be chili with all the fixin’s, brownie and drink for $5. The Loose Notes will play gospel and bluegrass. It will be Halloween and a perfect day to bring the kids in their costumes for a photo with the scarecrows. The Loose Notes are such fun people, I won’t be surprised if they show up in costume, too.

We’ll soon be planning for 2009 and welcome your comments and suggestions and, of course, would also like to hear your favorite moments from this season. If you have something to share, please drop me a note at PO Box 1, Webb City, or email me at

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sentinel Column - 10/17

Something new to the market, the area, and for that matter, the state, will be at the market today – fresh roasted peppers. Broken Wire Ranch will fire up a roaster at the market and roast peppers to order. It takes about five minutes to roast five pounds of peppers. The cost for roasted peppers is $2 a pound. Unroasted peppers at Broken Wire cost $1 a pound.

Broken Wire raises both sweet peppers, like Costa Ricas and Big Daddies, and hot peppers like Anaheims, New Mexico Sixes, Big Jims and Sandias.

Roasted peppers can be substituted in any recipe that calls for peppers. I’m told that roasting adds a smoky flavor and intensifies the flavor of the pepper. Pepper roasting is hugely popular at markets in the Southwest and on the West coast. We think it will be a treat for us, too.

Once the peppers are smoked, you will need to remove the skin, stem and seeds prior to using. Don’t wash them after roasting or you’ll lose the smoky flavor. Roasted peppers are best used immediately, but will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator.

The regular market season will end on October 31, but that doesn’t mean the end of local food.

The Holiday Market will be held, as usual, on the day before Thanksgiving at the Clubhouse. Baked goods, honey, jams and jellies, peanut brittle and possibly even some tomatoes and other veggies will be inside the building. Our meat vendors will be on the parking lot. Participating vendors are taking orders now from folks wanting specific items like pumpkin rolls, artisan breads or defrosted meat. Just stop by your favorite vendor at the market to place your order. The vendors will have extra items for customers who do not pre-order.

I love the Holiday Market because it seems so appropriate that our Thanksgiving table be loaded with the bounty from our local farms, ranches, bakeries and kitchens.

It will be from 11 to 1 on Wednesday, November 26, at the Clubhouse, 115 North Madison. The Clubhouse is the old health department between Broadway and Daughtery, now owned by the Historical Society. While you’re there be sure to look over the new exhibits on the cartoons of Nic Frising and the book by Jerry Pryor, Southwest Missouri Mining. The book had been unavailable for several years but is now reprinted and for sale at the Sentinel and the Genealogy Room at the library.

But wait! as my daughter Cora would say. There’s more!

There will be a Winter Market this year. Every first and third Friday from 11 to 2 throughout the winter, our meat vendors (and possibly other vendors) will be selling at the market. Of course, we won’t have music or meals, but many of our customers will be happy to know they can still get market products that are available in the off season.
The Winter Market will be under the north pavilion in King Jack Park. The parks department is planning to do some work on the pavilions this winter so the exact location may vary depending on what section is being repaired, but just look for those giant trailers that our meat vendors bring. They’re hard to miss.

In the meantime, the regular market will continue to be open on Fridays from 11 to 3 through October 31. We have pumpkin painting for kids, lunch and music, as well as a good supply of produce, baked goods and fall decorations.

I’ve recently been inspired by fall decorations. I just returned from a quick trip north of Sedalia to visit several small historic towns and saw some wonderful decorations. The small one-story buildings of Blackwater were decked out in fall colors. (see photo below) At each old fashioned lamppost was a pile of straw bales, corn stalks, flowers, pumpkins and a scarecrow. It was only a three-block downtown, but it was delightful. The size of the downtown and the scale of the buildings allowed the decorations to make quite an impact. I wonder if we could do the same as our small old-fashioned lampposts are installed in downtown Webb City.

Lunch at the market today is chicken potpie, garden salad, carrot cake and drink for $6. Pumpkin painting. Gospel Strings plays during lunch.

Next Friday we’ll have all-you-can-eat ham & beans, plus cornbread, fruit cobbler, and drink for $5.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sentinel column 10/10

It’s been school time for us lately. Friday before last the third graders from Eugene Field walked over for a visit. They had four stations: one with Mayor Biggs, one with our musicians Bailed Green and Wired Tight, one with me and a scavenger hunt.

It’s always fun to see what they remember to include in their thank you cards. Clearly the pumpkins were a big hit – especially the fact that Steve McLaughlin gave each of them a mini-pumpkin. I didn’t get to see the mayor’s thank yous, but I’m sure the kids were impressed.

I was pleased to see they remembered the many varieties of eggplants I showed them. Who would have thought eggplant would get their attention? But then who would think the same vegetable comes in a large purple size, a skinny green shape, a small green and white ball and a tiny but tasty tidbit?

The scavenger hunt is always fun. And was especially so that day because Resa Amos was demonstrating wool spinning and Rudi Long had buffalo skins and skulls and elk horns out for sale.

I have to wonder, though, if the music wasn’t the best. I always book Bailed Green and Wired Tight for our third grade visit. They are wonderful musicians and equally good teachers. They play lively traditional music, but they also stop to show and demonstrate the individual instruments – especially the banjo. The thank you notes were full of “awesome”s and “great”s and even one “you were my very favorite thing at the market (but don’t tell the others).”

It’s hard for eggplant to beat Appalachian mountain music.

This week has been Webster School’s turn. Their class scarecrows all came to the market on Friday.

On Wednesday I was Webster’s guest luncheon speaker. They have a guest speaker every week. I took Sammy Scarecrow, our life-sized market scarecrow, along as backup. He leads the singing at the end of the program.

It’s always a pleasure to visit Webster. The staff and teachers treat the students with such courtesy and respect and the students respond in kind. One lunch period came in and sat down so quietly I didn’t even realize they’d arrived until Mrs. Dykens complimented them on their manners. Now, when was the last time you’ve seen 120 children so well behaved? Go to Webster School where it happens every day.

I took a variety of pumpkins and squash from Frederickson Farms to show the children. I had the standard pumpkin, one that looked like something from Cinderella, a green one and one with a long neck. It’s easy to come up with something eye-popping at Fredrickson’s. They grew over 60 kinds of pumpkins and gourds this year.

Fredrickson’s sells at the market in the spring and summer, but come fall they’re busy fulltime with their business at the farm.

Steve and Tami Fredrickson are donating all the proceeds from their hayrides this weekend to the Ronald McDonald House. They hope to restock the pantry for the Joplin charity, which provides a "Home Away From Home" for the families of seriously ill children and ill expectant mothers staying at nearby hospitals. The rides are $1 each and will take place at the farm between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and between noon and 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Fredrickson Farms is located in Carl Junction just off Z highway at 303 North Grimes. The farm also sells mums, pansies, straw, and corn shocks and is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm and Sundays from noon to 6 pm. For more information, call 417 649-7462.

Lunch at the market today is spaghetti & meatballs, garden salad, garlic bread, brownies and drink for $6. Bailed Green & Wired Tight play during lunch. There will be paints and brushes on two tables for kids to paint pumpkins. And, of course, Suzy and Sammy Scarecrow will pose for pictures.

The market is still loaded with all kinds of produce, including tomatoes, so come on down every Friday in October.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pretty as a fall picture

This young customer is sporting a dahlia from Urban Gardeners. The Gardeners tell me that their flowers have never looked so beautiful. Pick up a bouquet at the market.

Winners of the Scarecrow Contest

Our customers chose their favorite scarecrows & they are:

1st place - Mrs. B. Fowler's class
2nd place - Mrs. Hunter's class
3rd place - Mrs. Harter's class

Our thanks to Webster School students and staff for brightening our day!

Fall Schedule

Don't forget - during October the market is open only on Fridays from 11 to 3.

Above, Mor Xiong explains how to prepare bitter melon.
At left, we expect peppers, green beans, tomatoes, squash, etc., at the market, but Circle E Farms even has fresh peanuts and lima beans!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sentinel Column 10/3/08

It’s Scarecrow Day at the market today. Every fall each class at Webster School makes a life-sized scarecrow as part of their Fall Hoe Down, an evening when their families come to celebrate fall by reading and learning. All the teachers wear country clothes like overalls and a few of our market vendors even set up to give it an authentic harvest feel.

Today, the day after the Hoe Down, the school loads up the scarecrows and brings them to the market to share with the community. So come to the market to see the scarecrows and vote for your favorite! The winners will be announced at 2. This year every child in the winning class will receive a mini-pumpkin courtesy of McLaughlin-Logan Farms.

The market will be open every Friday in October (barring a hard freeze) from 11 to 3. The market is still loaded with produce like apples, greens, peppers, zucchini, squash and much more.

Countryside View Greenhouse will be at the market today with mums. They are big and beautiful and a very good price. We’ll also have our pork, beef, chicken, buffalo and elk vendors, as well as our jam and jelly makers, and bakers.

Lunch today is barbecued beef sandwich, pasta salad, peas, pudding and drink for $6. The Wild River Band is playing during lunch.

We’ll have the painting tables set up each Friday so folks can bring or buy a pumpkin and paint it right at the market. We often hear a word of thanks from parents and grandparents for this service. It’s one less opportunity for the furniture or carpets to end up painted. We cover the picnic tables – and the children – so most of the paint goes on the pumpkins.

Suzy and Sammy Scarecrow are at the market, ready to pose for a fall photo. We think of this as something for children, but every year we have a few adults who pose with the scarecrows as well. Sammy and Suzy even appear on television occasionally. This week they did a thumbs up for KSN, as did many of our vendors. As I watched Mor Xiong, who grew up in Laos, give a bright smile and two thumbs up, I was struck by the turns that life takes. What were the odds that Mor, who grew up speaking an unwritten language in a part of the world without radio or cars, would end up half way around the world on television giving two thumbs up?

I was interviewing Scott Yang this week in preparation for a panel he, Tim Green and I are doing in Kansas City later this month. Scott moved to the United States in 1979. In Laos, which is humid and tropical, the low temperature in winter is about 65 degrees. Imagine the shock Scott was in for when he moved to Missoula, Montana, where the winter temperatures can go below zero degrees, way below. Small wonder that he eventually made his way to Missouri.

Something that seems to be common among our immigrant farmers is their courtesy, cheerfulness and eagerness to learn and improve their skills. I guess most of us could trace our own roots to similar immigrants who took a risk and found opportunities to create a better life for their families. It continues to be a privilege for us at the market to work with these relatively new citizens, to learn from them as they in turn learn from us.

Next Friday lunch will be spaghetti and meatballs, garden salad, garlic bread, brownies and drink. Bailed Green and Wired Tight will provide the entertainment.

Going to one day a week enables us to pack the pavilions with vendors and produce. It’s harvest time!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Last Tuesday Market

Tomorrow is our last Tuesday market. In October, we'll be open Fridays only - from 11 to 3.

Cooking for a Cause benefits the Webb City Parks tomorrow. Come join us for the last barbecue of the season.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sentinel Column 9/26/08

We have lots planned at the market this weekend (maybe it will take your mind off the lack of Mining Days).

Today Tammy Roberts, our extension nutritionist based in Lamar, will test pressure gauges beginning at 11. At 11:30 she’ll do a walk-through on canning green beans. This is not the traditional time of year for canning, but the market has such an abundant supply of green beans that it makes sense. And what a luxury to can when it’s not 110 degrees outside.

We’ll have a sign up sheet for people who would like to receive information on the full-blown canning class that Tammy and the market will hold next year. It will be hands on training in a commercial kitchen here in Webb City. The cost will be $15.

We’re also loaded at the market with eggplant, so we’ll do a sampling of Eggplant and Tomato Au Gratin beginning at 11. My daughter Emily emailed this recipe to me. It was one of the top articles read in the New York Times last week and is a low-fat version of Eggplant Parmesan. The culinary arts class at the Southwest Career Center in Monett prepared it for us.

Lunch today is chili with all the fixin’s, chips, crackers, carrot cake and a drink for $6. Bailed Green and Wired Tight will play between 11 and 2. They’re putting in a long session because the third graders from Eugene Field are walking over for a visit at 12:30. That always livens the market up as they explore on a scavenger hunt. They’ll be looking for lemon grass and snake gourds, dark and light honey, various meats, and for the most distant vendor (that’s Pates Orchard from Stockton). Our band plays and teaches about traditional instruments and we finish up with a cookie from the baker.

On Saturday, we should see more kids at the market because we’re painting pumpkins. Every child will receive a free mini-pumpkin to paint. Tables with paints and brushes will be under the south pavilion.

Between the pavilions from 10 to noon, Bob Foos will take photos of adults and kids with Suzy and Sammy Scarecrow among pumpkins, hay bales and corn stalks. There are two photo package options: one 5x7 and 8 wallets or two 4x5s. The cost for either package is $5.

Be sure to stop by our newest vendor, Black Forest House Pastries. They’ll have free samples of linzertorte and Black Forest cake on Saturday. Bert Ott trained in Germany and his baked goods have a European flavor. They include Bavarian pretzels, Danish rolls, apple strudel, bienenstih cake, coffee and cinnamon rolls. Since tomorrow is our last Saturday market, Black Forest will continue on Fridays.

Breakfast will be served until 11 and Coyote Pass will play throughout the morning.

Next Tuesday is our last Tuesday market and therefore our last Cooking for a Cause lunch. It will benefit the Webb City parks, a cause near and dear to our own heart since the King Jack Park is our home. Volunteers will serve up freshly grilled hot dogs, hamburgers and smoked sausages from 11 to 1.

With the last Cooking for a Cause, I want to acknowledge a generous gift that we have enjoyed this year. Shoal Creek Gardens has supplied our tomatoes all season for the hamburgers. Tim Green brings us a boxful of “not ready for prime time” tomatoes every Tuesday that we send over to Central United Methodist’s kitchen for slicing. (Tim is shown above with the remains of his compost pile. We use this picture in teaching our growers how to improve their soil.) The tomatoes may be ugly, but they sure are tasty. And as the supply of tomatoes dwindles, they’re often the only local tomatoes I get to enjoy. The Greens’ generosity has not only given us a taste of fresh and local at Cooking for a Cause, but also allowed more of the funds to go to our participating non-profits. Thanks, Tim and Vi.

In October, the market will be open on Fridays only through the end of the month. That will make our last day Halloween, barring a very hard freeze before then.

The Holiday Market is scheduled, as usual, for the day before Thanksgiving. We have flyers at the information table with details and contact numbers so you can pre-order your Christmas hams or Thanksgiving baked goods.

Today will be the last day for Urban Gardeners and their lovely flowers and herbs. Tomorrow will be the last day for Amos Apiaries until the Holiday Market. But for fall produce, baked goods, jams and jellies, meats and eggs, October will still be a great time to come to the market.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lots going on Friday

11:00 - Test your pressure cooker gauge. Tammy Roberts, extension nutritionist will test your gauge for free.

11:30 - Tammy will discuss canning green beans (we have loads still at the market & how nice to can in the cooler weather). We will also have a sign up sheet for folks interested in taking a full blown canning class next year. The cost will be $15.

Lunch is chili with all the fixin's, chips, crackers, carrot cake and drink for $6.

Bailed Green and Wired Tight will play Appalachian Mountain Music between 11 and 2.

The third graders from Eugene Field will visit the market at 12:30.

Last Week for Urban Gardeners & Amos Apiaries

Sad to say - Urban Gardeners (see flowers to top right) say this Friday will be their last for the season.

Resa Amos tells us that she will be at the market Friday and Saturday and then will be off to the fall craft fairs for the rest of the season.

She will be at the Holiday Market on the day before Thanksgiving. That will be 11 to 1 on November 26 at the Clubhouse, 115 North Madison.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Next Saturday is the Last Saturday Market

With the arrival of October, the market will go to Fridays only - 11 to 3. The gardens are just not producing enough to harvest two days in a row.

We hope the Saturday market has been a welcome part of your summer and we plan to continue it next year.

This final Saturday will have some special activities:

Our newest vendor: Black Forest House will be serving free samples of linzer tort and black forest cake.

McLaughlin-Logan Farm will give a free mini-pumpkin to the first 100 children for them to paint at the market. We'll have tables stocked with paints and brushes between the pavilions.

Susie & Sammy Scarecrow will make their first appearance at the market. The life-sized scarecrows always grace the market during the fall - ready to pose for a photo.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Webb City Sentinel column - 9/19

You never know what you’re going to find at the market - like a living breathing birthday cake marching from one end to the other.

Wayne Porter, former long-time minister at Webb City’s First Presbyterian Church and passionate volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, was surprised to find last Saturday that he reliving history. His son, John, and daughter, Tammy Graves, and his two sisters plotted a special 80th birthday for him. One that was patterned after his mother’s 80th birthday 22 years ago when she wore a rather remarkable birthday cake costume down Main Street in Nelson, Nebraska.

Unbeknownst to Wayne, his sisters, Darlene Shaw and Phyllis O’Dey, together with Phyllis’ husband Don, secured that costume and brought it to Webb City for his celebration. Wayne suspected nothing when the family wanted to visit the market Saturday. After all, lots of folks bring their out-of-town guests to the market. And he was amiable if perplexed when John led him from the market into the storage barn across the road. That is where the family was laying in wait to slip on the cake costume and candle hat.

We in turn were waiting under the south market pavilion with our band, the Missouri Mountain Gang, who played a rousing bluegrass version of Happy Birthday.

Wayne was a good sport, walking through the market in the getup telling friends, both old and just met, about his mother’s celebration and commenting “this is one of the more embarrassing moments of my life.” Certainly it was a memorable moment for his family and the market and I’m pretty sure that his son John may have a similar surprise waiting for him on his 80th birthday. After all, his children, Wesley and London, were at the market soaking it all in.

By the way, Wayne’s mother, Leona, actually sewed most of the cake costume. It was commissioned by a friend who owned a costume shop and who neglected to indicate the costume’s true purpose. Imagine Leona’s surprise when she learned that she was the special celebrant who was to wear the costume, down Main Street no less. A good sense of humor must run in the Porter family.

And good coping skills, too. It was a weekend of surprises for Wayne. First his sisters show up from Nebraska unannounced at his birthday dinner on Friday, then the market episode Saturday morning, followed by a surprise party that afternoon attended by his family, including his wife Joyce, and many friends. When I dropped by the party, there was Wayne garbed again in his costume recounting the now notorious cake story that he can add to the many other stories lived and retold during a long and productive life.

While we don’t expect to celebrate any 80th birthdays this week (and we probably wouldn’t tell you even if we did – we know how to keep a secret), there will be plenty of good food and community to celebrate. Lunch today is meatloaf, 3-bean salad, corn, tropical fruit cup and drink for $6. Webb City’s own Gospel Strings plays between 11 and 1. Resa Amos will demonstrate her spinning on her spinning wheel at her honey stand.

On Saturday, Ninth Hour performs. You remember them from their terrific performance this summer in Forever Plaid at the downtown theater. They’ll be singing gospel and popular hits from the past. The Thunder baseball team has a bake sale scheduled for Saturday. Breakfast will be cooked up to order until 11 or until the ingredients run out.

Be sure to check the market blog for details on next week.

Next Friday we plan a green bean canning demonstration and a sampling of eggplant Parmesan (yes, our farmers have eggplant in all shapes and sizes). Next Saturday we’ll have free minipumpkins for children to paint courtesy of grower Steve McLaughlin. Suzy and Sammy Scarecrow will make their first appearance at the market.

It’s fall at the market, bring the kids (and adults) out to enjoy the season.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Inside News

Ka Yang and her husband Neng are undergoing training for their winter jobs for the next two weeks. They plan to be at the market on Fridays and hopefully also on Saturdays, but will not be at the market on Tuesdays so that means NO EGGROLLS on Tuesdays!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Webb City Sentinel - 9/12/08

Is it cold and rainy? Grab an umbrella, put on your sweater and come on out to the market where you can celebrate the season under cover. Things are always a bit quieter at the market when it’s rainy so parking is easier, but we still have a market full of vendors and fresh produce.

Fall is coming into its own at the market with apples, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, mums and the fall crops of green beans, greens, broccoli, cabbage, green onions, beets and radishes. So brave the weather and come enjoy what your growers have worked so hard to provide.

Folks often think the market season winds down about this time, but nothing could be further from the truth. The season just changes and with it the market. For example, we are absolutely loaded down with green beans right now. We have more than we have ever seen before and it is because of that cool wet spell we had in August. Is it possible that I just wrote “cool”, “wet” and “August” in one sentence? In the nine years the market has been open, we’ve had more than a few years with not a drop of rain in August, and at least one when there was no rain in July and August. The result of this year’s strange August weather has been exceedingly productive green bean plants. And we expect that abundance to continue for some time because more plantings will be coming into maturity in the next couple of weeks.

This unusual situation has caused us to schedule a canning class for Friday, September 26th. Tammy Roberts, with Barton County Extension, will lead an abbreviated class on canning green beans that day. Next summer we plan to schedule a full 3-hour class at a commercial kitchen in Webb City so our customers can become expert at all sorts of canning. We also plan to have market demonstrations on drying and freezing food. As always, if you have suggestions for the market education program, let us know.

John Pate will have crisp, juicy apples just picked from the tree this weekend. Heidi Stoller will have her mums for sale at Friday's market.

The Urban Gardeners are back at the market on Fridays. Their flowers are thoroughly enjoying this weather and their bouquets are gorgeous. They also have herbs, a few heirloom tomatoes and other specialties like cloved pears.

The Lion’s Club will be at the market Friday selling raffle tickets for a street-legal three-wheel vehicle. The drawing is to take place the last day of market – which this year will probably be Friday, October 31.

Lunch today is barbecued chicken breast, au gratin potatoes, green beans, watermelon and drink for $6.

We are blessed with some outstanding bluegrass and gospel musicians this weekend. On Friday the Fabulous BRDs will play between 11 and 1. On Saturday, the Missouri Mountain Gang from the Springfield area will play all morning.

We’ll have breakfast at the market on Saturday until sellout or 11. The We Care of the 4 States food pantry will hold a PIE sale on Saturday. Doesn’t that sound tasty?

On Tuesday, we’ll have ratatouille – not the wee chef of movie fame, but the original French dish. The culinary arts class of the Southwest Career Center in Monett is preparing ratatouille for our customers to sample. It’s perfect for this time of year because almost all the ingredients are in season – eggplant, tomato, basil, parsley, bell peppers, yellow squash and zucchini. Only the onion is out of season. (Here’s a little insider information: my growers tell me that they don’t have onions now because in our area the large onion grown after midsummer turn hot as a firecracker. That’s why you’ll only find green onions at the market right now. We’re looking for a variety that will take us through the whole season, but no luck so far.)

Whatever day – or days – you come to the market during the next week, you’ll find something to delight your eyes, ears or taste buds.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Green Beans Galore!

We're loaded down with green beans at the market. The cool wet August spell (now that's an oxymoron) has resulted in some very happy green bean plants that are producing their little heads off.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sentinel column - 9/5

One of my favorite parts of managing the market is visiting our farmers. Marilyn, board president Tim Green and I had scheduled visits to eight farms on Wednesday. It was the only day we all had free this week, so we went despite the forecast of rain.
My, and did it ever rain. It rained and it blew – so much that Marilyn’s umbrella blew inside out and there were a few times that I thought my golf umbrella was going to give me an aerial view of the farms.

(That's a damp Tim Green inspecting Mor Xiong's tomatoes. They're looking good and are putting on their third set for the season.)

We always discover new things, new ideas, and new places on these visits.
At Hector Troyer’s we found the tomato plants edged with tall grass. The cover crop between the rows was mowed short but he had decided not to “weed-eat”, allowing narrow strips of grass to grow high on either side of the tomatoes. His hope was that the grass would shade the fruit from the late summer sun and reduce scalding. Interesting concept, but not one he’ll repeat. The grass is a hassle to harvest through, and almost unbearably itchy, and it didn’t have any effect on scalding. But it just goes to show that Hector is always looking for ways to farm better.

He also has a low spot in a field near the house that he’s tried to drain without much success. He’s thinking it would be a great place for a volleyball lawn next year. Personally, I don’t think I’ll challenge him to a game. He towers over me.

Neng Chang is coming to sell at the market next week. She is Ton Cha’s daughter-in-law. It’s one of those relationships that doesn’t translate. Ton’s children are all young and Neng is clearly older than Ton, obviously she isn’t married to one of his children. It has something to do with generations. Apparently her husband may be the great grandson of Ton’s grandfather. It’s all a little confusing to me, unfamiliar as I am with the complexities of Asian family structures.

In any case, we visited Neng’s garden Wednesday. Upon arriving, she took us to a tiny plot with some green beans, basil and peppers. I told her it was surely not worth driving an hour to sell such a little bit. “Oh, I have another garden.” So she took us to the other side of the house and there was half an acre of squash, cucumber and melons. Then she mentioned she had one other garden. We hopped in her truck and she took us through several fields. She parked and we walked down a steep path into a small valley surrounded by trees and filled with lush vines of squash, a field of rice (below), and other crops. It was a delightful secret garden with fertile soil, sheltered on all sides.

As we left that garden, she said next year she was adding another garden spot over the hill.

During our visit with Neng my list of produce had gone from three types in the first garden to almost twenty-five by the last, proving that persistence pays. As we have become more experienced at farm inspections we have learned that it is important to ask – “Is this everything?” Growers know everything they’ve planted, but unless we see it and note it on the inspection form, it can’t be sold at the market.

Another lovely discovery Wednesday was the Agee Farm. Their large gardens and orchards are filled with innovative plantings that were interesting to learn about and lovely to behold.

I had told them that we’d probably be at their place about noon and Dee said “plan on a light lunch.” When I protested, she said that her mother didn’t raise her to have company at lunchtime without providing a meal. And, to tell you the truth, the offer was welcome because we are often many, many miles from a restaurant when on inspections. What I didn’t expect, but should have, was the spread Dee provided. The Agees grow heirloom produce so we sat down to their Brandywine tomatoes, fresh salsa, smoked salmon from their last trip to Alaska, a French dessert cantaloupe, and cider they had pressed just the night before. These are clearly people who love good food. It was a feast of freshness.

If you’d like to experience your own heirloom feast, stop by the Agee’s stand. They’re at the market on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Lunch today is spaghetti & meat balls, garden salad, garlic bread, banana pudding, and drink for $6. Plainsfolk play Irish music between 11 and 1.

On Saturday we celebrate Scout Day at the market. Cub Scout Pack 25 will have a bake sale and host a craft table. The Webb City Girl Scouts will host a game and craft.

The Wild River Band will play from 9:30 to 11:30 and Hazel’s Bakery will cook up breakfast at the market until 11.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Inside News

Amos Apiaries will have comb honey at the market beginning on Tuesday.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sentinel column - 8/30

As one of my farmers said yesterday, “there are no holidays during the growing season. Farming is 24/7.” Actually, for that farmer it’s 24/6 1/2 because his family always saves Sunday morning for worship.

So the market will not take a holiday either. We’ll be open on Friday, Saturday and Tuesday as usual despite the Labor Day holiday.

No doubt about it, this has been a strange year. With two major ice storms, floods and heavy rains all the way to July and now a relatively cool spell in August, it’s been hard to know what to expect.

Another unusual but welcome difference over previous years at the market has been our customer count during the last couple of weeks. Always before, our numbers dropped drastically once school started. Not so, this year. Saturday continues to grow and the weekday markets are holding strong. That’s really good news for our growers because they planted for a crowd this year.

Now you may say, if you planted so much, how come you're out of (peaches, corn, green beans, heirloom tomatoes – insert your favorite) by the time I get there? It’s not because we don’t want to sell it to you, but rather because of limitations on production or transportation. And, to be honest, sometimes because the growers just can’t believe they need to bring as much as they do.

I’m hoping I’ve finally convinced Pate’s Orchard to bring a gigantic load of peaches this Friday and Saturday. Every market day except one this year John shook his head in wonder at the numbers of people lined up for his peaches and said “I could have brought more…” So Friday he is bringing a TRUCKLOAD. And if it’s raining and he has to bring the smaller truck to keep the boxes dry, the Pates are bringing TWO vehicles. That’s quite a commitment considering they have to drive all the way from Stockton. I just hope our customers buy every single peach to encourage him to keep it up.

Marilyn and I were by the orchard yesterday on our second inspection visit of the season. I had never seen the orchard before in late August. It is heavy in leaves, with deep shadows under the trees. So different from the spring when the flowers are in bloom, but beautiful in its own way.

The orchard should be producing peaches almost to the end of September and then the apples will be ready for harvest. The Pates also have fall tomatoes planted in their high tunnel (photo below) that should take us all the way to the end of market (which is usually the last Friday in October).

Our growers are already making plans for next year. We probably had an increase in production this year of over 50%. If all goes well, our growers plan a similar increase next year. We have more high tunnels going up over the winter and more fields going into production. We’ll be hosting training sessions again to help our growers, as well as any of the public who care to sit in, farm and market smarter and better.

During our drive yesterday (Marilyn and I covered over 300 miles visiting 6 vendors), I told her that I could hardly believe the season had flown by so quickly. We’re down to the last two months and it will soon be time to plan for 2009. But the end of summer doesn’t mean the market’s abundance is over. Turnips, radishes, and new green beans are in the ground. Pumpkins, gourds and winter squash are ripening. In fact, Tuesday, the market was bursting at the seams with produce. We still have the best of summer and a hint of fall with the first sweet potatoes, mums, corn stalks, Indian corn and decorative gourds. (That's a pumpkin growing at Fairhaven at the top of the article.)

Lunch today is BBQ beef sandwich, baked beans, cole slaw, brownie & drink for $6. The Sours play traditional music between 11 and 1.

On Saturday we’re delighted to have Paul Rowden & friends back for a Market Jam. If you’re a musician, you’re welcome to join in, if not just have a seat and enjoy the music. Breakfast is served till 11.

On Tuesday, Gary Kyger will entertain us during lunch with music from the 30’s and 40’s, gospel and classic country.

CROPwalk benefits from Tuesday’s Cooking for a Cause. This annual hunger walk sponsored by more than 10 area churches raises money for local feeding programs and for poverty-fighting programs around the world. It’s a great cause, so put a big red circle around Tuesday and remember that having Monday off doesn’t push the market back a day!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Complaints or Suggestions

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Farm visits

We had a customer today ask if our farmers were growing all they sell. As it happens, we are in the process right now of making our second round of farm visits this season to verify just that.

We visit all our full season growers twice during the season - once shortly after the season begins, then again in August. Our short season growers, like blueberry growers, we visit as the fruit comes into maturity.

Last week Marilyn and I visited our farms to the southeast - the McLaughlin, the Lee and the Yang farms, plus Fredrickson's in Carl Junction. Above is a photo from the Fredrickson visit showing some of their mums which will soon be at the market.

At each farm we take notes as to the crops currently in production and the quantity of both the plants and the harvest. We also look for food safety issues, pest problems and other opportunities to share solutions and improve operations. (Marilyn & I don't claim to be experts, but we know the people who are!)

Tomorrow, Marilyn and I head west and east, visiting our new birdbath maker in Chetopa, as well as farms in Galena, Bronaugh, Sheldon, Harwood, Stockton and Jasper. It will be a long day, but ensures the integrity of the market. (photos at supper right from Shoal Creek & Pate's Orchard are from the 8/27 visit)

Next week, we'll finish up with our farms to the southwest, which include the Troyers, Agees, Eichers, Ka Yang and the Chas.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Inside News

Hazel's Bakery and Sunnylane Farm (chicken & beef) are taking Tuesday off. They'll be back on Friday.

Inside News

Fairhaven will have sweet corn at the market all this week.

Mao Her from Noel will be at the market for the first time this Tuesday. Those who remember her from previous years will recall the lovely cut flowers she grows. She says she has LOTS of pickle cucumbers - so if you're pickling this year, but sure to stop by her place.

Agee Farms, of heirloom tomato fame, expects to be at the market this week on Saturday only.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Inside News

The kids from the Kids Community Garden will be selling at the market on Saturday (August 23) for the first time. They'll be in the north pavilion on the northeast side right by our honey lady who we expect back at the market on Saturday after a brief holiday.

Another new vendor on Saturday - Made of Clay - potters, of course. They plan to demonstrate their craft as well as sell their pots.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Inside News - New Vendors

On Friday - look for Chuck's Aquatic Garden Supply at the market with koi and water palnts.

On Saturday - look for Sherida Wittum with handcast bird baths and our own Kids' Community Garden who are making their first sales at the market.

Inside News

The Palmers at Fairhaven tell me that they'll have Ambrosia sweet corn at the market on Friday and Saturday. Josh Orr will be at market with his tomatoes on Saturdays only now that school has resumed.

Senitnel Column - August 22

Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got till you’re gone (to take a little license with one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs). I returned to the market Friday after a two-week absence. I’d been in lovely Scotland which was beautiful, wet, cool and full of wonderful sites. However, I really missed my fresh produce. Constant cool and wet is great for flowers but not for vegetables, something all our local growers and gardeners learned last spring. Friday after market I went straight home, sliced my Brandywine tomato from Agee Farm, doused it with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a bit of honey from Amos Apiaries, and sprinkled on some fresh basil. Paired with Redings Mill’s wonderful tomato and basil bread, it made a feast.

Scotland was lovely, but the food was lacking and the cost was amazing. A typical meal that would cost $12 here, cost more than $30 there and filling the tank of our rented car cost more than $200! Sure glad – for many reasons – that I live here.

Marilyn Thornberry and I are making our second round of farm visits this month. I’m glad to report that, though some crops like summer tomatoes and egg plant are winding down, fall plantings are well underway. We should have cool weather crops of pac choy, lettuce, radishes, pumpkins, mums and such, plus fall plantings of green beans, onions and tomatoes.

The market is committed to continuing our Saturday markets as long as the produce and customers keep coming. It looks like we should last well into September. Our Friday and Tuesday markets, barring an early hard freeze, should continue through September. During October we usually do Fridays only.

Can we really be talking about October already? This cool weather really puts us all in the mood. In fact as September approaches, we find ourselves toying with the idea of doing a very mini Mining Days type celebration at the market. Since it will be mostly farm-related activities we’d stick with our Fall Roundup name, but add some special music, kids’ games and such – on September 13th or 20th. If you have ideas or would like to help, please give me a call at 673-5866.

We have found that small celebrations work well at the market. In fact, we consider every market a small celebration – of community, of the arts, of the small family farmers and artisans, and of good food. This Saturday we add to the celebration by hosting our annual It’s a Peachy Day at the Market. I say annual but last year we had to cancel Peachy Day when virtually every peach in Missouri was frozen over Easter weekend.

Starting at 9:30, volunteers will be serving free samples of peach cobbler and ice cream. You can also try a slice of the two varieties currently in season at the market – the yellow-fleshed Cresthaven and the white China Pearl. Servings will continue till we run out. There will be a coloring table for kids in the north pavilion. Coyote Pass will entertain in the south pavilion and breakfast will be served till 11.

Today lunch will be chicken salad, potato wedges, corn salad, white cake with lemon icing and a drink for $6. Baled Green and Wired Tight will play Appalachian mountain music from 11 to 1.

We’re finishing up our last obligation for last year’s grant from Project for Public Spaces with a customer survey today and Saturday. The one-page survey will be on a table in the north pavilion on clip boards. Please take time to fill one out and drop it in the survey box. It should take less than 5 minutes to complete and will not help us wrap up the grant but give us good information to improve the market.

Next Tuesday, Cooking for a Cause benefits NALA, our local adult literacy council.

Marilyn Thornberry commented just yesterday that until she broke her wrist (at the market) last Friday, she hadn’t realized how much she depended on both hands. But imagine if you couldn’t read. Missing this column would be easy, but how about filling out a job application, or understanding the operational instructions on your car, or any number of other things we do every day that depends on the ability to read? NALA does important work that benefits not only their clients but our community as well. Even if you don’t want to eat, come by to learn about NALA and make a small donation to their efforts.

Education is a great thing – unless it takes our excellent Tuesday musician away. Rob Pommert who has entertained all summer with his guitar and voice has returned to his “real” job teaching guitar at Ozark Christian College but he has promised to come back to us next summer. So we’ll have to fill the pavilion with engaging conversation on Tuesdays for the rest of the season. That shouldn’t be a problem!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Update on D & J Lemonade

Dalton tells me that he has already met his goal of selling enough lemonade and tea at the market to buy a new bicycle. In fact, if you stop by you'll probably see his new bike because he pulls his supplies down to the market in a wagon and then runs back home so he can ride his bike and display it by his stand.

He also made enough profits to buy all his school clothes!

Dalton plans to continue selling at the market on Saturdays now that school is started and is already thinking about hot chocolate and cider for the cooler months. He's quite the entrepreneur.

What's at the Market & What's Not

We have a new grower at the Market - Agee's Fruits & Vegetables. James & Dee Agee have a farm in Fairview and are bringing heirloom tomatoes, speciality melons, apples and other goodies. Their tomatoes include Cherokee Purple and Brandywine. The Agees will be at the market on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Friday was the last day for Urban Gardeners for a while. This Tuesday will be the last day for Circle E Farms. Our other growers are going strong and expect to have produce for quite a while. In fact, Pates Orchard and Shoal Creek Gardens have fall tomatoes planted and several of our other growers have fall green beans in the ground. We already have pumpkins coming to market at Steve McLaughlin's stand and more will certainly be following as fall approaches.

We're missing one of our market wagons. It disappeared on Friday. If you see a Red Flyer with natural wood slats, please give us a call at 673-5866. The wagons get a lot of use and we'd hate to have to pull them out of service to keep them from straying away from the market.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday's & Saturday's meal & music

Friday - Sliced ham with pineapple raisin sauce, picnic pasta salad, peas, butterscotch pudding & drink $6. Gospel Strings play.

Saturday - The Wilkins Family of Oronogo play.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sentinel Column August 8

Which is your favorite tomato? Yours may be different from mine, though I think we could all describe the qualities we’re looking for – the right texture, the right flavor, and the right combination of meatiness and juiciness. Opinion diverges though on what is “right”.

Our judges Saturday came up with the following “right” winners at the TomatoFest:

Best Red Tomato Dee Ogle, of Webb City, Missouri.

Best Other Color Tomato - Carole Palmer, of Fairhaven Berry Farms, Harwood, Missouri.

Best Small (cherry, grape) Tomato - Deanna Agee, from Fairview, Missouri.

The heaviest tomato weighed in at 1.63 lbs. and was grown by Deanna Agee of Fairview, Missouri. The smallest was the size of a marble and grown by Ava Smith of Reddings Mill. And the crowd selected Hector Troyer‘s of Stark City as the weirdest.

Our thanks go to Mike Pound, Chef Scott Teal, and Mike Shaffer for judging and to Granny Shaffer’s and the Richardson Law Office for underwriting the prizes.

Tomatoes have been in the news this summer with the salmonella outbreak. It looks like the FDA is finally coming close to identifying the source of the contamination. Unfortunately many commercial fresh tomato growers in the US who were completely innocent in the affair have suffered tremendous loss. I can’t help but think there is a better way to deal with a contamination outbreak and no doubt the FDA is working to improve their systems. Let’s just hope they concentrate on commercial production rather than creating broad regulations that put small farmers selling locally out of business. Tracking local sales shouldn’t take much of a paper trail.

Smithsonian magazine recently had an article on tomatoes. Among other things, it noted that big tomatoes are usually less flavorful than medium or small tomatoes because “you’ve maxed out the plant’s ability to produce sugars and other flavors.”

Jay Scott with the University of Florida is researching how to increase the flavor in the big tomatoes grown by Florida’s farmers. Florida is the largest US producer of tomatoes, most of which are “picked as hard and green as Granny Smith Apples, packed in boxes, warehoused and exposed to controlled doses of ethylene gas, a ripening agent, so they turn red just in time for sale.” That turning red may be the primary difference between a commercial tomato and a local one. “The flavor of tomatoes, Scott says, comes from sugars, acids and volatile chemicals. Photosynthesis generates sucrose, or table sugar, which is broken down into glucose and the sweeter fructose during ripening.” Ethylene gas turns the tomato red, but photosynthesis can only happen on the plant and in the sunlight.

But, of course, I’m preaching to the choir. Just know what you want when you visit the market because we have lots of choices – big tomatoes, medium and small ones, ones that have never seen a chemical, others that were regularly fertilized with a chemical-based fertilizer like Miracle Grow, hybrids, heirlooms, ugly, beautiful. You’ll find red, yellow, pink, even striped. Just ask the grower for details and sample around until you find a favorite variety – or two.

Lunch today is stuffed pepper, squash casserole, 4-bean salad, fruit fluff and a drink for $6. The Missouri Mountain Gang plays.

Tomorrow we have a home town group singing – Ninth Hour, four young men who specialize in gospel but will no doubt throw in some golden oldies. Matt Holt is their director and pianist. You may have seen them at the Forever Plaid performance at the Route 66 Theater. They’ll be singing between 9:30 and 11:30 and I guarantee you’ll enjoy hearing them.

Tuesday Joplin Little Theater puts on Cooking for a Cause and Rob Pommert will play guitar from 11 to 1.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blogging takes a vacation - but the market doesn't

I'll be in Scotland for the next couple of weeks, so the blog will have the Sentinel columns, but no inside news. The menus and music will continue to be updated on the market's website:

Speaking of music, mark your calendar for Saturday, August 9th - 9:30 to 11:30. Ninth Hour will be performing. Three are Webb City boys and all are fantastic singers. You may have caught them in Forever Plaid when it was at the Route 66 Theater. Matt Holt is their director and pianist. This is a perfomance you won't want to miss.

& don't miss coming to the market while I'm gone. This is the high season when the choices are the widest and most abundant. It's the height of the flavor season.

I had two of Frank Runyon's watermelons over the weekend - delish!


Sentinel Column August 1

We’re loaded with tomatoes, so that must mean TomatoFest time!

This Saturday, we’ll celebrate with contests, sampling and demonstrations.
The Fun categories are: Heaviest/Biggest, Smallest Ripe Tomato and the Weirdest Tomato. Winners receive $15 of market tokens courtesy of the Richardson Law Office.

The Quality categories are: Best Red, Best Other Color and Best Small (cherry, grape, etc) Tomato. The winners receive $25 of market tokens courtesy of Granny Shaffer’s.

Tomato entries must be made between 8:30 and 9:30 in the south pavilion. Two tomatoes of the same variety are required for the Best Red and Best Other Color. Eight are needed for the Best Small. Only one tomato is required to enter the Fun categories.

Judging begins at 9:30 and hopefully winners will be announced by 10:30.
Judges this year are Mike Pound of the Joplin Globe, Chef Scott Teal, executive chef at the Holiday Inn and Mike Wiggins, owner of Granny Shaffer’s.

Tomato sampling will run from 9:30 to 11:30 in the north pavilion.

Tammy Roberts, Extension nutritionist, will demonstrate how to make gazpacho at 9:30 and 10:30 in the north pavilion. There will, of course, be a tasting afterwards.

Drywood Bluegrass will play and a full breakfast is served until 11 for $5. Redding Mill plans to be there will lunch specialties.

Webb City’s own Cub Pack 39 will have a bake sale.

We said farewell this week to one of our volunteers, Cody Vaughn. Cody is a senior at the high school and in the honors program. The program requires that participating students put in community service hours with a limit of three hours per organization. Cody offered to drive our market cart as his service and, of course, pretty much did the three hours in one day. He completed his fourth Tuesday of driving this week – now that’s really community service when all he gets is the satisfaction of helping. And, of course, what we really loved to hear was “See you next summer” from him when he left.

Now that watermelon and cantaloupe are at the market folks can really gather an armload quickly. Don’t forget we have wagons between the pavilions. Veggie valet is at the information booth. You can leave your purchases in the shade there while you buy more, eat lunch, visit or listen to the music. And though the walk to your car may have been easy coming in, you may want a lift back with all your melons, corn, tomatoes, pies, etc. There is a picnic bench under the west canopy between the pavilions. That’s the shuttle stop. If the shuttle is driverless, just stop by the information booth and a driver will be at your service.

Today lunch is barbecued beef sandwich, baked beans, corn salad, carrot cake and drink for $6. Coyote Pass will play.

Next Tuesday Cooking for a Cause will benefit Girl Scout troop 6438. This troop, which has met at Central United Methodist church since Brownie days, is made up of high school students. They deserve a pat on the back for sticking with a great program literally for a decade.

Speaking of decades, next year the market celebrates its 10th birthday. Any ideas on how we should celebrate?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thanks, Cody!

Cody Vaughn is off to camp and school. He spent Tuesdays in July driving the market cart. Last year Tuesdays were so quiet that we really didn't need the cart - this year we've had close to one thousand customers each Tuesday and many have taken advantage of a lift to the pavilions. Even more have caught a ride back to their car now that they are carrying sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelon AND cantaloupe.

Cody's done a great job and says he'll be back next summer after completing his senior year at Webb City High School.

Friday, July 25, 2008

We're loaded with produce

Fresh from the field sweet corn continues to come in by the truckload. And there are lots of field and garden tomatoes. If you're looking for canners, try Hector Troyer's stand. He was selling 20 pound buckets of canning tomatoes for $10 each last week.

Above - Mai Lee takes care of customers.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Watermelon & Canteloupe

Frank Runyon will be at the market Friday with his first harvest of melons.


Saturday, August 2
Webb City Farmers Market

Tomato Contests –

Best overall quality categories –

· Red Tomato
· Other Color Tomato
· Best grape, cherry or other small tomato

(Two tomatoes for Red & Other Color categories, 8 tomatoes for Small category entered must be delivered to the south pavilion between 8:30 & 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 2.)

First prize in each category is $25 in market tokens redeemable at any market vendor.

Fun tomato categories –

· Heaviest/Largest Tomato
· Smallest Ripe Tomato
· Weirdest Tomato

(One tomato for each category entered must be delivered to the south pavilion between 8:30 & 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 2.)

First prize is each fun category is $15 in market tokens redeemable at any market vendor.

Top tomatoes will be announced at 10:30 and displayed until 11:30.


9:30 until we run out – Sample a variety of fresh local tomatoes

9:30 & 10:30 – Gazpacho demonstration by Extension nutritionist Tammy Roberts. Tasting to follow.

9:30 – 11:30 – Drywood Bluegrass plays

10:30 – (or there abouts) Winners of the Tomato Contests announced

9:00 - Noon – Learn about the many different varieties of tomatoes sold at the farmers’ market by chatting with growers.

Pick up a contest entry form at the information table at the market or email: eileennichols@sbcglobal.

Sentinel column - July 25

It’s almost August, and inquiring minds are asking – will the Saturday markets continue? YES. We had originally planned to just do June and July, but the response to the Saturday market has been much good to give it up now. We have many new customers who could not come on Tuesday or Friday because of other commitments (working can sure get in the way sometimes) and our vendors have been pleased with sales.

With harvest running a good three weeks late because of the cold wet spring, our farmers are just now hitting their high season. And since many increased their plantings by at least 50% to accommodate an additional market day, we should have plenty of produce, probably all the way through fall. The key question now is – will our customers continue coming on Saturdays once the dog days of August pass. We are hoping you will.

This Saturday Pack 29 will have an activity table where boys and girls can buy a model kit of a birdhouse for $2 and construct and paint it. The whole project takes about an hour, but the painting can be done at home if you’ve got a busy morning. It will also be a good opportunity to meet some of the cub scouts and their leaders. Scouting, whether for girls or boys, can have a profoundly beneficial effect on a child. You may know someone who’s ready to be a scout. Bring them to the market on Saturday and introduce them to scouting.

The Webb City Band Boosters will host a bake sale on Saturday. They’re a big group so we’re expecting a lot of baked goods. Be sure to stop by to support their efforts (it’s a sacrifice, but I’ll try to eat a few brownies for the cause).

We have a couple of new vendors coming on Saturday. Lone Star Farm from Anderson will be at the market for the first time with green beans and cucumbers.

D & J Lemonade will have lemonade and tea. You may have noticed the lemonade kids Tuesday. Dalton and Jocelyn set up under their mother’s watchful eye in the far parking lot. When I discovered them, I invited the kids to be market vendors. We didn’t have a lemonade vendor and we try to encourage young entrepreneurs by waiving their season fee. And, of course, we couldn’t have them selling in the parking lot. It’s way too dangerous, plus we’re obligated by our lease with the Park Board to manage all vendors. So they filled out an application, their mom called the health department to make sure they were using good food safety practices and complying with health department rules, and now their ready to officially go into business at the market. (We invited them to start on Friday, but that’s their little sister’s birthday and family comes before business.

Lunch today is all-you-can-eat ham and beans, plus cornbread, brownie and drink for $5. Hymn and I will play from 11 to 1.

On Saturday, we’ll have a full breakfast for $5 until 11 (unless we run out earlier like last week). Jamie Smith will be back with his pizza, specialty sandwiches and stuffed mushrooms. He’ll serve until noon. Jamie was away last week at a festival on a parking lot that measured at 130 degrees HOT. You can imagine how hot it was in his food wagon with the oven blazing. I think he’s done with summer festivals unless they’re under shady trees.

Stonebrook will play bluegrass from 9:30 to 11:30.

Next Tuesday, Cooking for a Cause supports the Chert Glades Master Naturalists.

Next Saturday is TomatoFest with tomato contests, tomato sampling and a gazpacho demonstration at 9:30 and 10:30. Details are on our blog ( You can also email for entry forms in the tomato contest from there.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Paul Rowden & Friends

When Paul Rowden says he'll bring a few friends to play at the market, he means it. As you can see from the picture about 15 accomplished musicians played throughout the Saturday market today, having such a good time that they continued playing almost an hour past the advertised time. It was a real treat for all of us.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sentinel Column 7/18

Unless you are one of the Sentinel’s out of state subscribers this is probably not news for you because you were probably at the market, but last Friday was the biggest day in the market’s history. By our estimates, about 1,300 folks came to the market. And it’s not even tomato season yet! Must be the power of sweet corn.

People were amazingly good-natured about the traffic and parking. They, like us, were surprised at the crowds but usually said they were happy the market’s doing well. I just encouraged our customers to think positive – not only can they get fresh, local produce at the market, but they can get their exercise for the day too if they chose to walk from their parking space.

Duane Hunt was busy shuttling customers and their produce back and forth for about two hours in the market cart. And for the one person who swore she’d never come back on a Friday, he suggested trying a Saturday morning when things are calmer. (We only had 700 customers last Saturday.)

The market cart has been a real help, both for the customers loaded with produce and for the volunteers setting up the market. So our thanks to the folks who underwrote the cart’s purchase last year – Cardinal Scale, Mid Missouri Bank, the Tri-State Water Resource Coalition, Stadler-LaMere, the Richardson Law Office and Amos Apiaries.

We still have a pretty good supply of sweet corn (it lasted until half an hour before closing on Saturday). As one planting is picked out, there may be a lull until the next field is ready. Our farmers hope to harvest off and one through September this year.

Blackberry season will fast be upon us. In fact, we’re having Blackberry Day tomorrow (Saturday). Tammy Roberts, an Extension nutritionist based in Barton County, will demonstrate blackberry smoothies at 9:30 and 10:30. (Yes, there will be a tasting after each.) We’ll serve small cups of blackberry cobbler with ice cream for $1 each (until we run out). Paul Rowden & Friends will play bluegrass, gospel and old style country throughout the morning. Hazel’s Bakery will serve a full breakfast from 9 to 11 and Ka Yang will have her Asian foods.

Today, lunch is meatloaf, green bean salad, braised baby carrots, watermelon/cantaloupe and a drink for $6. Gospel Strings will play.

Next Tuesday, Children’s Haven will benefit from Cooking for a Cause. This local non-profit provides a temporary home to children who might otherwise go into foster care because of the illness of a parent or other family difficulty.

Now, back to the first paragraph of this column – about it not being tomato season. Just between me and you, the field tomatoes are finally in! We had enough Tuesday to take care of every customer. So if you’ve been longing for the full flavored taste of a juicy homegrown tomato, come on down to the market. It’s tomato season.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lost & Found

Have you lost an audible pedometer? If so, give Eileen a call at 483-8139.

Market in the News

Two market vendors are featured in the current issue of Missouri Ruralist. Go to:

to read the stories. Thanks to Sherri Mitchell for bringing her copy of the magazine to the market and giving us the heads up.

Inside News

Tuesday was the first day of the season that we closed with tomatoes still for sale.

& Pate Orchard is bringing the big truck Friday which will almost double our peach supply. The Red Havens are in!

Yes, we're entering the bountiful season. Word is that cantaloupe and watermelon are only a week or so away!

You will find these products at many stands, but those currently bringing in the largest supply are:

Sweet corn - Wells Farm
Green peppers - Troyer Farm
Green beans - Ka Yang
Potatoes - Ka Yang & Mor Xiong
Tomatoes - Troyer Farm, Josh Orr & Scott Yang

Plus you will find the above and much more like squash, zucchini, onions, hot peppers..... at those vendors as well as many others including the Lees, Eichers, Fairhaven, Shoal Creek, the Chas, the Vangs, & Fredricksons. Just take a stroll through both pavilions to see what's in season.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tuesday Market

Here are a few things we're expecting on Tuesday:

Green Peppers at Troyers and Lees
Incredible (yellow) corn at Wells
Temptation (bicolor) corn at Troyers & Eichers
Ambrosia (bicolor) corn at Fairhaven
Okra at the Chas

Plus lot of other good stuff!

The Exchange Club runs Cooking for a Cause and donates their profits to the 501c3 Healing the Family counseling service.

Ka Yang is back with her egg rolls!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wow - what a crowd

Friday was the biggest market, in terms of sales and customers, that we've ever had. Folks were parked half way to the soccer field on the south and west of the Kneeling Miner on the north. It must be the allure of sweet corn.

Above, the Yangs fill bags as quickly as they can on Friday.

Thank goodness most folks were patient and kind about the traffic jam. And thank goodness Duane Hunt was running the golf cart. He got quite a workout.

When you have to park a distance, think positive - not only can you get fresh local produce, but also your exercise!

Saturdays have been much calmer than the weekdays, so it might be an ideal time to do your marketing. We're expecting:

Sweet corn - The Wells Farm, Troyer Farm & Fairhaven
Peaches - Pates Orchard & Fairhaven
Blackberries - Fairhaven
Green Peppers - Troyer Farm, as well as several others
Green Beans - Helen Cha & others
Tomatoes (in limited supply) - Pates Orchard, Lee Farm, Troyer Farm

plus lots of other good stuff - just wander around.

New this Saturday - pies from Redings Mill - peach pie and blueberry pie

The Joplin Welcome Club will hold a bake sale.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sentinel Column 7-11

Finally, we have sweet corn and loads of it. We have Bodacious, a yellow variety, and the bi-color Temptation. You’ll find corn at the Troyers, Wells, Palmers & Eichers on Tuesdays and Fridays and all the afore mentioned except the Eichers on Saturdays. In other words, we’ve got A LOT of corn.

Hannah Mehrens, our intern volunteer this summer, went with me on several farm visits this weekend and one of the highlights was the Wells cornfield. It’s hard to beat shucking an ear of corn and eating it right in the field. (That's Kristie Wells shucking my snack.) The early corn is so tender that it doesn’t even require cooking.

But cooking does have its fans and there are so many ways to cook corn - boil, steam, grill, roast or microwave, and then slather it with butter. That’s the time to add some salt. According to the Illinois Extension service, adding salt to the boiling water just makes the corn tougher, as does overcooking, so wait until the butter goes on.

The service also suggests squeezing on some lime juice or brushing the ear with olive oil and sprinkling on the following dried herb mix.

4 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon thyme

The key to good corn is freshness and proper storage. The shorter the time between harvest and eating, the better it will be, and if the corn is kept cool or refrigerated during that time, so much the better. Don’t shuck the corn until right before cooking.

Back to Hannah. She’s volunteering at the Saturday market. She works during the week at Richardson’s Candy House while she pursues an associate degree in agriculture at Crowder College. Her passion is growing and using fresh produce and convincing others to do the same, which makes her a really good match for the market. We hope that she’ll share a little of that passion and do a few cooking demonstrations for us this summer.

Two other volunteers I need to acknowledge are Cody Vaughn and Duane Hunt. They’re driving the market cart for us so folks parking in the far lot have an easy way in and out. Tuesday and Friday have become so busy at opening that the cart is a real godsend, especially now that the corn is in. It’s one thing to enjoy a walk to the pavilion, but something entirely different to haul 3 dozen ears of corn that distance.

Friday’s lunch is chicken salad on a lettuce leaf, tomato and zucchini salad, corn, banana pudding and a drink for $6. Jack and Lee Ann Sours will play traditional music.

On Saturday morning, we’ll have a full breakfast from Hazel’s Bakery, as well as cooked-at-the market pizzas and stuffed mushrooms from Redings Mill Bakery. They’ll also have specialty sandwiches and, brand new for the Saturday market, pies! Blueberry and peach.

Saturday has been short on baked goods, but that time is past because in addition to the Bakery’s pies, our non-profit bake sales are kicking in this week. The Joplin Area Welcome Club will host the bake sale this Saturday.

The Loose Notes will play gospel and bluegrass this Saturday.

Monday, July 7, 2008

No Eggrolls This Week

Ka Yang will be out of town this week visiting her mother who is ill. Ka expects to be back at the market on Tuesday, July 15th.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Lost & Found

If you're missing a key with a red covering on the head, please stop by the information table. Also, we found way back in early May the bluetooth headset of a cell phone. It has a Motorola symbol on it.


Our annual PestoFesto is this Tuesday. Darryl Alton of Urban Gardeners will demonstrate pesto making using both the traditional pestle and the food processor at noon. He'll be located in the northeast corner of the north pavilion.

Urban Gardeners will be making a rare Tuesday appearance in honor of PestoFesto. They have wonderful planters with a variety of basils, as well as mixes of gourmet herb plants. They'll also have pesto kits Tuesday.

Inside News

Looks like we'll have at least three vendors on Tuesday with sweet corn!

Steve McLaughlin is planning do fried green tomatoes at the market, and may also grill corn. He'll be set up by his mom, Kay McLaughlin at Hazel's Bakery. Making it a family affair - Steve's daughter, Maddie, will usually be at the market with her lemonade stand. All her profits go to the Autism Center.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sentinel column - 7-3 We're open Thursday this week!

I’ve always heard that, in our area, a good gardener will have tomatoes for the Fourth of July. Well, not this year. Our Spring was so cold and wet that most field produce is a good two weeks behind schedule. What that means is that you won’t see a lot of tomatoes at the market today. But in another couple of weeks, we should be buried in them.

Our growers have planted literally thousands of tomato plants to be sure we have enough, but the weather has delayed the harvest. The up side is that we should have produce a little later than usual this year, but to take advantage of that folks will need to continue coming to the market as summer turns to fall – not much consolation now, I know.

Hector Troyer hosted a field day for our growers last month and I think most were amazed by the number of tomato plants in his fields. Hector’s goal this year is to come home with a few of boxes of tomatoes after every market, in other words to have tomatoes for the late shoppers as well as the early ones. According to his research it should take 240 man-hours each week to harvest the number of tomatoes he has planted. That’s a few more hours than Hector has and I don’t think his son Lance is going to be much help. Lance has a great smile and can stand on his tipy-toes now, but at 8 months he’s not much of a field hand. I expect Hector will be putting in long hours this summer, like most of our farmers.

The market is blessed with growers who make the market’s well-being part of their plans. Hopefully, Hector will profit from his massive tomato planting, but his primary motivation was to be sure the market had plenty.

Another grower, Tim Green, is already looking to double the size of his high tunnel next spring. He has hated that some of his customers waited in long lines for tomatoes only to see the last ones sold before their turn.

That experience has been far too common for our customers lately because of high demand and delayed harvests. Most have been very kind and supportive and we really appreciate that because we know it’s disappointing. Stick with us – the bounty is just around the corner.

We’ve had lots of beautiful onions at the market this year, something we were short on last year. We’ve also had a much-improved supply of green beans, potatoes, kohlrabi and cabbage.

The first of the Asian cucumbers were at Helen Cha’s stand Tuesday. I’m not a cucumber fan, but my friend Claudette Brown says the Asian ones are wonderful. Raspberries and blackberries are coming into season and can be found at several stands – Fairhaven, Pates, and Orr to name a few.

Lunch today is a barbecued beef sandwich, baked beans, potato salad, cake, and drink for $6. The Plainsfolk will play Irish music. We host our big bake sale to benefit Crosslines today.

Cooking for a Cause on Tuesday also benefited Crosslines and raised over $450 for our regional food and clothing pantry. We had a bevy of volunteers from Central United Methodist and First Baptist churches, both of Webb City, manning the grill and serving tables.

On Saturday, we’ll be open from 9 to noon under the pavilions. The Missouri Mountain Gang from the Springfield area will play bluegrass.

Jann Amos will have a demonstration hive at the market Saturday. You, and the kids, can see a cross section of a living, working beehive without the usual risk.

Hazel’s Bakery will serve a full breakfast. Jamie Smith will have cooked-at-the-market pizzas and stuffed mushrooms, as well as specialty sandwiches on his artisan breads. I had his Hillbilly BLT last week and it was delicious. It’s piled high not only with the bacon, lettuce and tomato that you’d expect but also shaved ham. And for $4 you get a sandwich that is plenty big for two people. It’s a real buy.

Next Tuesday is our Pestofesto. The Urban Gardeners will have pesto kits for sale and several of our growers will have basil for sale. Darryl Alton will give a pesto making demonstration at noon. You won’t want to miss that. He’s quite the showman, plus you get to sample.

Remember, we’re open rain or shine – last Saturday should prove that. Despite an absolute downpour during most of the market we had 14 vendors and over 300 customers. What a crazy bunch! Can’t help it, we love our market.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Inside News

Boy, did we ever get slammed today. Tomatoes, peaches and corn were all sold out in 30 minutes, mostly because supplies are still very limited. We're hoping that by next week, there will be plenty - or at least enough to last through lunch.

Don't forget that we're open on Thursday, not Friday, this week because of the holiday. We'll also be open on Saturday. We won't be seeing Madewell Pork or Flintrock Buffalo this week because of the Fourth. However, we are expecting pretty much everyone else. We'll have our usual bakers on Thursday as well as our annual Crosslines bake sale.

Speaking of Crosslines, we cleared $458.25 for Crosslines at Cooking for a Cause today. Great turnout of customers and super volunteers supplied by First Baptist and Central United Methodist churches of Webb City and the Carterville United Methodist Church.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Inside News

Saturday (June 28) - we don't expect any tomatoes, but Hector Troyer will probably have sweet corn and Pates will have peaches. Come before 10 to be assured of either. The Brakers will be back with blueberries and Fairhaven with blackberries on Tuesday.