Thursday, August 21, 2008

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!