Sunday, June 22, 2008

And the good news is ....

My oh my, we certainly had some wrinkles this weekend. Starting Friday with the mob of folks who showed up at opening. Our apologies for the traffic jam.

And then Saturday our band was unable to come. We have rescheduled the Wilkins Family for Saturday, August 16 - which brings us to some good news. Yes, we plan to continue the Saturday markets until we run out of a good supply of produce or customers.

OOPS. Maybe all the trouble was because I forgot to post the 6/21/08 Sentinel column. Here it is - late:

I’ve been thinking of friends and connections both near and far this week. Loosing a friend to death does that, loosing two really fills the mind with sorrow and memories. The first friend was Carl Bailey, tomato-grower extraordinaire. He won one of our first tomato contests, but his real strengths were kindness and wisdom.

The second was Ron Hale. Ron died Tuesday in a farm accident. The accident was inexplicable, as seems often the case with tractor accidents. I knew Ron through the Missouri Farmers Market Association. He was our vice president. Ron also managed and sold at the Farmington Farmers Market. He will be terribly missed by his community, both locally and statewide.

The Association has been the source for me of many friends with a special interest in markets. It was formed in 2000, the same year our market started and currently includes 77 markets, providing lots of opportunities to share ideas and solutions. While every market is different, hopefully each reflecting their own community, there is much we can learn from each other.

The Association’s president will be at the market today. Deb Connors is coming in her role as the market manager of City Market in Kansas City. She and her assistant manager Deb Churchill, visit several markets every year to pick up ideas. Since, like us, she visits every vendor at her market she had to be in our corner of the state to visit two farmers that sell at both City Market and Webb City, the Cha and the Lee families. When I think I’ve taken on too much, visiting about 30 farms some as far as 70 miles from Webb City, I just remember Deb with her 500-mile limit and 100+ farms.

You might be surprised to learn how far your local market reaches beyond those 70 miles – not to gather its produce but to share information and support buying local wherever that may be.
Last week a photographer with Missouri Ruralist was down to do a story on the market’s Roots celebration. There will be an article in the August issue of Plenty magazine with information on our market’s “good works”. Plenty is a national magazine focusing on living green. They are currently interviewing our meat vendors for another article.

I flew to New Mexico last month to talk about our work with immigrant farmers at a regional conference. I must admit that I was humbled by the work and expertise I saw at the conference. In fact, I’m sure I learned more than I taught but I really appreciated the invitation.

And, of course, this column goes far and near. I heard just last week from a Sentinel reader in Florida.

What can you expect at the market today? Josh Orr is bringing the first raspberries. He’s also doing a trick roping demonstration at noon today and at 10:30 on Saturday. The Keelings will have gooseberries today. The tedious part of the job, stemming, is already done.

John Pate and Tim Green have local high tunnel tomatoes until they sell out, which is usually within an hour or two of opening. There are lots of new potatoes, green beans, onions and other good things.

Today is the day to buy an apron if you want one. Tiffany Bergland does not expect to be at the market for a while. She said that her sales have fallen as gas prices have risen.

Lunch today is barbecued chicken breast, au gratin potatoes, peas, fruit fluff and drink for $6. Gospel Strings play.

On Saturday, Hazel’s Bakery serves up a big breakfast and Ka Yang serves Asian cuisine. The Wilkins Family from Oronogo will play from 9:30 to 11:30. Market Jam (session) begins at 11:30.

On Tuesday, the Humane Society runs Cooking for a Cause. They usually have a mobile pet adoption center set up under the trees near the Chamber of Commerce, so if you’re in the market for a pet be sure to drop by.

And finally, please take time to enjoy your family and friends. There is nothing more precious.