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.