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 They tried calling the card holder, but the number they had was outdated.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)