Friday, August 28, 2009

Inside News

John Pate tells us that he expects Tuesday to be the last day for peaches until the Parade variety are ready about 10 days later. The good news is that he thinks his apples will be ready for market on Friday.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Webb City Sentinel - 8-28-09

Last Friday, the irises donated by the Letsingers flew out of the market so Jo and Rae got busy and thinned out another two borders. Those irises will be at the market tomorrow (Saturday). The catalog says “Tall German Bearded Iris … various color in solids and bicolors … these orchid-like flowers are the ‘iristocrats’ of the last spring garden … need at least 1/2 day of sun and the rhizome needs to be covered with no more than an inch of soil … height will vary from 30 to 40 inches.”

After the bell rings at 9 am, the irises will be available for free at the market information table.

We’re expecting lots of watermelon today and tomorrow. Frank Runyon’s melons have been delicious this year. I haven’t gotten a single one that wasn’t just right. Tim Green plans to bring a bunch of melons this weekend and we have several other growers bringing melons.

We will soon be transitioning into the fall gardens. Most of our growers have done a good job of sequential planting. Ervin Eicher has been planting sweet corn all season and hopes to have plenty through September. On our farm inspections, we’re seeing lots of new green bean plantings. In fact, I predict that in the next three weeks we’ll be buried in green beans, so if you’re thinking of canning or freezing it will be a great time to buy in bulk. We’ve also seen a lot of snow peas, lettuce, spinach, radishes and beets going into the ground. And, of course, the pumpkins and apples are ripening.

It’s the time of year that people begin to ask when the market is closing. We will have our regular schedule of three markets a week through September, unless we get a hard freeze earlier. Then we go to Fridays during the hours of 11 to 2 in October. In November the winter market begins – 11 to 2 every first and third Friday of the month.

Last year was our first for winter market. It was mainly meats, baked goods and jams and jellies. And, given that there was little produce, it turned out to be a very succesful first year. However, we have several growers already lined up to provide winter produce. Marilyn and I visited Shoal Creek Greenhouse and Gardens Wednesday on a midseason farm inspection and saw one high tunnel planted in young tomatoes and the other just planted in green beans, squash and cucumbers. The Fredricksons in Carl Junction are considering growing salad greens this winter in their greenhouse and we’ve had inquiries from three other farms about growing for the winter market.

So the answer to “when is the market closing” is that it is not. Happily for the market volunteers, the winter market is very low maintenance and managed by Nancy Rasmussen, our beef and chicken vendor. That way we volunteers get a break. Or should I say, we take on different responsibilities.

I received word this week that our grant request to do grower training this winter will be approved by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) soon. That grant will fund a food safety from field to market workshop, as well as a series of workshops on high tunnel technology. We are the lead market in organizing this training program and have invited the markets in Joplin, Neosho, Monett, MacDonald County and Pittsburg to participate. Any area farmers are welcome to attend. All the workshops will be conducted in English and in Hmong. Most of our immigrant farmers speak English fairly well, but when it comes to food safety we want them to understand completely and, of course, technical matters can be difficult to understand in any language.

Speaking of language, we had our last English as a Second Language class last Friday. Our instructor, Jared Zamouski,is back at MSSU now that summer is over. Jared did a wonderful job with his students, helping them improve their ability to interact with customers. He brought photos of the different vegetables sold at the market and the students took turns playing the seller and the customer talking about the produce, how it is grown and prepared, explaining prices and so forth. NALA (Neighborhood Adult Literacy Agency) connected us with Jared who volunteered his time. It was a good experience which we hope to repeat next summer.

We were taken aback this summer at a customer’s response to English as a Second Language. He seemed to think that we were denigrating English. So just in case others think we’re putting English in second place, let me explain that linguists consider the language that you grow up speaking your first language. Languages that you learn subsequently, are considered a second language. When we say English as a Second Language, it simply means that it is a class for people who did not grow up speaking English, as opposed to an English grammar or literary class like one might attend in high school.

What’s happening at the market this weekend? Today lunch is all-you-can-eat chili with fixin’s, plus sugar cookies and drink for $6. The Granny Chicks will play between 11 and 1. Tomorrow on Saturay, PEO is serving breakfast. All profits will go to their scholarship fund. Drywood Bluegrass will play.

On Tuesday, the Civil Air Patrol will serve Cooking for a Cause. I had to do a little reseach on the Patrol. It’s a Congressionally chartered, federally supported, non-profit corporation that serves as the official auxiliary of the United States Air Force. It’s an all-volunteer organization that performs three congressionally assigned key missions: emergency services, including search and rescue and disaster relief operations; aerospace education for youth and the general public; and cadet programs for teenage youth. Our local chapter is primarily for cadets ranging from 12 to 21 years.

Our music Tuesday will be by Willaim Adkins. He was a big hit at last Saturday’s market and I encourage you to make time between 11 and 1 to hear him.

Monday, August 24, 2009

More irises coming!

On Saturday, August 29, we'll have more irises from Jo and Rae Letsinger. They're free & they'll be gorgeous next spring. Gather some up at the information table after the bell rings at 9.

From the catalog:

Tall German Bearded Iris....various colors in solids and bicolors....these orchid-like flowers are the "iristocrats" of the late spring garden...need at least 1/2 day of sun and the rhizome needs to be covered with no more than an inch of soil....height will vary from 30-40 inches due to various factors.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday at the Market

We couldn't have asked for a nicer day today. The weather was great, the produce was top notch and folks were in a good mood - as they usually are at the market.

William Adkins played at the market for the first time and he was a big hit, with folks filling the benches throughout the market. He'll be back on Tuesday, September 1st.

The weather is more like late September than August and we are beginning to see fall produce like the huge pumpkin at little Nicole Courdin's stand. The winter squash has arrived - butternut, spaghetti & acorn (the photo of acorn squash below was taken on a market inspection this week at Troyer Farm).

Frank Runyan tells us that he should have watermelons for another week. Get them while you can, they've been delicious

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sentinel column - 8/21/09

Life is good.

I am surrounded by good and gifted people. For example, Jo & Rae Letsinger, who are dear friends in Sarcoxie, are giving away more than 200 iris plants at the market today. Rae is a masterful gardener and deeply interested in plants. Every year he adds new specimens to his collection, each marked with a stake denoting their botanical name. Rae’s iris beds have thrived. Since thriving irises multiply and must be thinned out periodically to maintain their vigor, Rae did some major thinning this week. His sister Jo will bring the plants to the market today. The catalog describes the plants as “early blooming clumps with flower stalks 8” to 16” tall, extremely vigorous, fantastic edger for front of the border.” Rae always buys top quality, so being free, these are a real bargain. Bring a sack to the information table and gather some up for your garden. We’ll start handing them out at 11 after the bell rings.

Mike Moore was at the information table Tuesday when Bill Perry stopped by to say that Childrens’ Haven has a newsletter coming out with information on the market’s support. Childrens’ Haven did a Cooking for a Cause last month and growers have donated food to Childrens’ Haven several times during the high season. With an average of 12 children, plus staff to feed, free fresh produce can really stretch the food budget. Mike was surprised, he didn’t know about the market’s gleaning program, and if Mike didn’t know, lots of others may not know either, so let me tell you about our generous growers. Typically on Tuesdays and Saturdays, they load us down with donations of sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes and lots of other produce. Black Forest Pastry almost always has two or three boxes of pastries to donate. We make arrangements for the gleanings to be picked up, or deliver them ourselves to various feeding programs, including the Damascus House rehab program, Crosslines, Childrens’ Haven, City of Refuge and Salvation Army. Tuesday I dropped some produce by the Cerebral Palsy Center in Webb City.

We have also been blessed by people we don’t know this week. A debit card was found in the parking lot on Tuesday and turned in by a kind customer. I couldn’t find a phone number for the card holder on the internet so called the issuing bank – US Bank. They tried calling the card holder, but the number they had was outdated. The bank said they would cancel the card. I said, “oh please don’t. Let us hold it for the rest of the day and if the customer doesn’t contact us we’ll drop it by the bank”. Within an hour, the customer came to retreive the card. The bank had somehow gotten hold of her. Since she was from Pittsburg and I was looking for a Missouri number, I would never have found her so kudos to the US Bank employee that went the extra mile.

Another good thing at the market has been the conversion of our Saturday morning breakfast to a benefit. Customers have been great supporters, the profits have been maximized by the generous donation of biscuits by General Mills, and nonprofits are calling in to reserve days. We had been seriously overbooked on Cooking for a Cause, having to turn down numerous organizations that wanted to participate. Now with the Saturday Benefit Breakfast we’ll have 16 more groups we can support.

This Saturday, the breakfast supports CROPwalk, which is supported by many churches in the Joplin area including Sacred Heart and Central United Methodist, as well as Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Missionary Baptists, Lutherans and several schools. The money raised goes to Lafayette House, the Salvation Army and Crosslines, as well as to other US and international hunger projects. Breakfast is served from 9 to 11 (& I’m still looking for a few workers. If you long to start Saturday early cooking sausage at 7 am, stop by the information table today and we’ll sign you up). Biscuits, gravy, sausage and eggs is $3. Two eggs your way is $1.

We have a new musician on Saturday – William Adkins who plays the guitar and sings. Expect a lot of John Denver and other mellow tunes from the 70’s and 80’s. I hope you’ll make him welcome.

Today Gospel Strings graces us with their music. Lunch is a BLT sandwich, macaroni salad, spinach salad, cake & drink for $6.

Next Tuesday, Cooking for a Cause benefits the local chapter of the American Red Cross. Much of their funding goes to help local families who have suffered a major fire in their home. Disasters come in all sizes and, in our area, it often comes in the form of a house fire.

The market is loaded with green beans, tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, squash, cucumbers, okra, greens, onions, and melons. We have some fabulous peppers, including bells in many colors. For a wide variety of sweet and hot peppers, try Broken Wire Ranch. Grower Tom Lewis has some beauties, and can roast them for you right on the spot. It smells delicious,and tastes even better.

Yes, life is good.

(Photos - top: Mor Xiong's stand, bottom: the Troyer stand)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Free Iris on Friday

My friends Rae & Jo Letsinger are bringing 200+ standard dwarf bearded iris of various colors (catalogue says "early blooming clumps with flower stalks 8" to 16" tall, extremely vigorous, fantastic edger for front of the border")to the market Friday. Rae is a plant enthusiast and uses top quality material so these will be nice iris. Bring a sack to the information table to carry home some free iris.

Monday, August 17, 2009

We're looking for a great baker

The Webb City Farmers Market has been blessed with a wonderful pie and cake baker in Hazel’s Bakery, but Hazel is hoping to cut down to just Friday markets soon. That means that the market has an opening on Tuesdays, and possibly on Saturdays, for an excellent baker. Pies and cakes, as well as dinner rolls and other baked goods are in demand at the market.

Applications are available at the market or by calling 417 483-8139 or by emailing the address above. The market requires that baked goods be produced in a kitchen inspected by the health department. Hazel’s plans to continue providing the market with baked goods on Tuesdays until a new baker is in place.

Friday, August 14, 2009

High Praise

We get compliments all the time at the market which we love, but when a fellow market groupie complements us, that’s high praise indeed. A lady, who like us collects markets where ever she goes, told us today that the Webb City market is the friendliest, warmest (in a good way), cleanest and best market she’d ever been to.

Yesterday, we were at the State Fair where the Governor opened the Ag Building by recognizing the Webb City Farmers Market as the state’s 2009 market of the year. He and Mrs. Nixon are big fans of local foods and know that supporting local food is also supporting local economies, plus it tastes really good!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Black Diamond Watermelon

Shoal Creek Greenhouse and Gardens are bringing Black Diamond watermelons to market on Friday and Saturday!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Webb City Sentinel column - 8/14/09

Resa Amos and I drove about 250 miles on Wednesday making this season’s second visit to our northern farms. Farm inspections are challenging from a time perspective. It’s hard to come up with the five full days needed to visit every grower, but it has its perks (in addition to the very necessary purpose of verifying that all our farmers are selling only what they grow).

For example, Frank Runyon’s place west of Sheldon is always a pleasure to visit. It’s located on a small lake surrounded by beautifully manicured lawns, as well as his fields of melons, garden produce, blackberries and young fruit trees. It’s lovely enough to be a resort.

Jeff Koehn welcomed us to Countryside View Greenhouse in Walker which is northeast of Nevada. He has 900 hardy mums well underway for fall, in addition to many perennials and fruit trees. In fact, Resa’s eye was caught by a Red Haven peach tree which she bought and we hauled back in my little car. When we went in to make the purchase (I bought some cinnamon candies) Resa remarked that it looked just like a little Mennonite country store. Jeff replied that was understandable since he’s Mennonite.

Hospitality is the key word at Fairhaven Berry and Vegetable Farm. Carrole has been under the weather for the past few weeks and we’ve really missed her at the market. Sitting a spell on their front porch is always part of the ritual of our visits there, but this visit was extra special because of the time we were able to spend with Carrole.

And it’s always so satifying to walk the farm with Joe. He and Carrole, like many of our vendors, are committed to making the market the best it can be. That’s why Joe still has six plantings of sweet corn that should ripen all the way to the end of September. That’s why they’ve ordered an additional 1,000 strawberry plants and a load of raspberry brambles. That’s why they planted three times the number of sweet potatoes this year as they did last year. They put in the extra effort so the market can be well stocked with local produce through the whole season, and in the case of sweet potatoes into the winter market. Speaking of sweet potatoes, the first harvest will be at the market on Friday and Saturday.

Our next stop was Pate’s Orchard where the China Pearls are ready for harvest. The China Pearl is a white peach with a taste and scent that, to be redundant, is fruity – but fruity in an almost tropical way. It’s delicious and I’d recommend you give it a try if they’re not sold out by the time you get to market.

At Broken Wire Ranch, south of Stockton, we were in for a treat. Tom Lewis specializes in peppers – hot and sweet – and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many peppers in my life. Row after row, each 450 feet long, just loaded with bright yellow, orange and red peppers of every shape and size. Tom is definitely the pepper king of the market, made more so by his pepper roaster. You can pick out the peppers of your choice and he’ll fire them up right at the market.

Sunny Lane Farms was our next stop. We got to meet their market herd of one and two year old herefords. The pastured poultry were out in the field in their new huge cages. The cages are new because in the last wind storm the old cages blew into the pond, though not before owner Nancy got all the chickens out. We also met Nancy’s new flock of sheep which later in the year will enable her to add lamb to the choices at her market stand. She’s taking pre-orders now.

Our last stop was the Vang Farm. We hadn’t planned to stop there but a road detour took us within a hundred feet of their farm, so I called and asked if they’d mind a spur of the moment visit. Geena Vang and her mother – who is the chief farmer – took us through their very extensive plantings. They have an amazing quantity of green beans. They’re also loaded with okra, egg plant, potatoes, onions, Thai peppers and lots of other vegetables. It is impressive that Mrs. Vang, with the help of her husband, manage such large plantings, mainly with hand labor. She’s sure not afraid of hard work.

During the next two weeks, we’ll be heading south, west and east finishing the inspections. We take our grower-only rule very seriously, so much so that a violation results in eviction from the market. That’s the one rule violation that we do not forgive. Intrigity is too important to the market’s success to allow any one vendor to tarnish it – which, of course, doesn’t make it any easier for me to tell farmers they have been banned. That is, for sure, my least favorite job as manager. But the up side is that, thanks to the market’s success, some 30 family businesses continue to thrive at the market. That’s one of our reasons for being and, like bread upon the water, it has spread as other communities, seeing Webb City’s success, have begun their own markets, providing venues for success for many more growers. So here’s to local markets supporting local growers, while boosting the local economy and providing local fresh food to local communities.

Lunch today is Chicken Perlu', mixed vegetables, rolls, fruit cup & drink for $6. Lee Ann & Jack Sours play from 11 to 1.

There’s lots happening on Saturday. Cub Scout Pack 29 hosts a bake sale and serves breakfast. The Granny Chicks perform. It’s also be our monthly Art Market. And, finally, it’s our Market Roots Celebration. Bring the kids to see where their food originated, see where the families of our vendors and volunteers can from and place a pin where your own roots were planted on the Historical Society’s map.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Let's Plant a Garden Day - the rest of the story

Every Spring the market gives a free tomato plant and planting instructions to all the children at the market that day. This week we heard from one of our little gardeners - Makayla. Here's a photo of her and her plant. We hope all our other little growers did as well.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lost & Found

If you're missing keys, glasses, sun shades, a perscription, or something else - check by the information table. We may have your missing item.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Heirloom Tomatoes

They're hard to grow, they have a short season, they're delicious & we'll have 100s of pounds of them on Friday and Saturday at the market. Fredrickson Farms has a bountiful harvest of heirloom tomatoes (those are old fashioned tomatoes known by their multitude of colors, shapes and sizes - the only thing they realy have in common is their amazing taste). These are not your uniform easy-to-ship factory tomatoes. They're sometimes quirky looking, always colorful and packed with flavor. Get them while they're at the market.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sentinel column - 8-7-09

We’ve hit high season at the market with the arrival in abundance of melons. Several of our farms grow melons, but Frank Runyan of Sheldon definitely grows the most. Frank made his first appearance of the season on Tuesday with his pickup loaded with Odyssey cantaloupes and Crimson Sweet watermelons. Frank plans to be at the market every Tuesday and Friday until he’s picked his fields clean. On Saturdays, you can find melons at Circle E and Organic Way, among other vendors.

We also have plenty of sweet corn – yellow at Fairhaven and Circle E, peaches and cream bi-color at Broken Wire and the McLaughlin Farm.

And we have lots of tomatoes, too, including canners. Hector Troyer said Tuesday that he had sold large orders of canning tomatoes to four different folks. With our food preservation classes and our sign up sheets, we’ve been able to connect growers having an over supply of produce with folks wanting to do food preservation, making everyone happy.

We should have a good supply of peaches today (Friday). John Pate plans to bring the big truck. He’ll still probably sell out by 2:00, so I wouldn’t wait too late in the day, but there shouldn’t be a need to stand in a long line. John says some of the peaches are huge this year. You’ll find the biggest ones in the $4 boxes.

Speaking of the peach line, what a cheerful group of people they are. It took a few markets before the line began forming up smoothly, but I believe we’ve got the system down now. The first one in line takes the closest seat on the bench by Pate’s Orchard and the line forms as people sit in order on the benches and then stand behind. Sometimes we can have 50 people in line when the bell rings, but then it moves quickly. Usually all 50 have their peaches in less than 20 minutes.

I often serve as the line monitor, primarily to let folks new to the market know where the end of the line is. People are amazingly kind in cooperating which is a big help to me.

Today, lunch is a Philly cheese steak sandwich, oriental cole slaw, chips, brownie & drink for $6. Bailed Green & Wired Tight play from 11 - 1.

Tomorrow, the Saturday market runs from 9 to noon. The Carl Junction chapter of the Order of Eastern Star will be serving a breakfast of biscuits, gravy, sausage and drink for $3. This is a new fundraiser for us and looks like it will net between $100 and $200 each Saturday for participating non-profits. Next Saturday, Cub Scout pack 25 will run the breakfast. They’ll also have a bake sale next week.

The ever-popular Ninth Hour Quartet will perform tomorrow and Nancy Carlson will run the children’s craft table which will be coloring pages of fruits and veggies.

We have a new business opportunity for the right baker. Hazel’s Bakery hopes to go to Fridays only as soon as we can find a replacement for them on Tuesdays. We are accepting applications from folks who would like to sell pies, cakes, cookies and fruit breads, as well as other baked goods, on Tuesdays at the market. The market requires that baked goods come from a kitchen inspected by the health department, however that can be a church kitchen or a borrowed restaurant kitchen if the baker doesn’t own one. Applications are available at the information table or through our blog or web site by email.

If you haven’t visited our blog lately, please do. It has all sorts of inside news, photos and tips, as well as a link to vote for your favorite market in the country – hint, hint. The blog site is There’s a box on the site where you can sign up for blog alerts. You receive a short email whenever a new blog is posted – an easy way to keep up with market news. For example, that’s where you’d find out that Amos Apiaries is bringing in the fall honey harvest which should be at the market today, that Hazel’s Bakery will be away from the market next Tuesday so you’ll want to stock up on pies and cakes today and that Reddings Mill bakery will be back at the market on August 11. You can also see a picture of the Kids Community Garden and of our youngest vendor.

Next Saturday is our Market Roots Celebration. It’s a great way to explore your own roots and learn about where our neighbors and our food hailed from back in the mists of time. The celebration is a Webb City original, but we have shared it across the country. In fact, just yesterday we received a request for details from Green Market in New York City which wants to start its own Market Roots Celebration. We’re happy to help what, according to their web site, is the largest and most successful open-air farmers markets program in the country, connecting local farmers with city residents by delivering fresh healthy produce to all five boroughs through 46 markets.

Superintendent Ron Lankford often says that Webb City schools prepares its students to succeed anywhere. Apparently, at least in the case of Market Roots, the market is following the school’s lead.

It's National Farmers Market Week

& we're celebrating our youngest growers on Saturday. The market sponsors, with the school, a Kids Community Garden just west of Madge T. James Kindergarten. (How appropriate is that - a kids garden by a children's garden - that's what kindergarten means in German).

The Open House will be this Saturday from 9 to 11. The young gardeners will be serving lemonade and giving tours. Their mentors, the master gardeners, will be on hand with gardening information.

The garden is ringed this year by marigolds planted by 400 kindergarten through second graders during summer school, so many little hands have planted the garden this year.

Please plan to stop by and encourage our youngest gardeners Saturday morning.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Inside News

Resa Amos called to say the fall honey harvest is underway and she should be at the market full time starting this Friday through this month.

Kay McLaughlin advises that she will not be at the market next Tuesday, so stock up this Friday.

Finally, in addition to Frank Runyon with his melons, we had another new vendor and product at the market today. Katey Fredrickson set up her own table with the first of her mini pumpkins (all 5 of them) and some other goodies from her little garden at Fredrickson Farms.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Inside News - Melons

Frank Runyon will be at the market on Tuesday (August 4) with watermelon & canteloupe!! Fredrickson Farms says they'll have 300 pounds of heirloom tomatoes on Friday and Saturday. It's harvest time!!!