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.