Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sentinel Column - 10-30-09

So what is it with Fridays in October this year? The forecast, as I write this column, indicates that yesterday’s high was 70 degrees and today’s 56! And that’s probably the warmest Friday we’ve had all month.

Well, at least we have the right meal for chilly weather today – all-you-can-eat chili, plus cornbread, cookies and a drink for $6. And if it’s just too cold to consider al fresco dining, you can always get it to go and enjoy it in your warm kitchen while you think of me bundled up at the market. The Loose Notes are scheduled to play from 11 to 1.

We’re transitioning at the market. Winter Market starts next Friday but, except for the lack of music and a meal, it will look much the same to our customers. I, however, have started wearing some different hats – not that you won’t see me at the Winter Market running the token machine. I’ve been working on the market’s training program. That means organizing seven different workshops, plus helping with the state’s workshops. Luckily I don’t have to run the latter, just help select locations and topics.

A couple of weeks ago I told my husband, Phil, that I was savoring the fact that I had no presentations scheduled. During the past year, I ended up in about five different towns in Missouri, and in several other states, doing presentations on various market topics. The very afternoon I was savoring all this free time, I was called about doing two presentations in St. Joseph and two in Wichita (which, of course, I will do because I’m a big believer in sharing information). Then last week, I got a call from the board of the new O’Fallon farmers market asking if they could drive over to Webb City to get some pointers. That’s a four-hour drive each way! Yesterday, I provided information a North Carolina market wanting to know how we got our non-profit status (all those training workshops probably has something to do with it) and today I communicated with the manager of a market in Houston, Texas, about our meals at the market. Their health department requires a $70 special permit every time they serve a meal at the market even though their vendor has a certified kitchen and caterer’s license. It reminded me how thankful I am that we have a health department that facilitates our activities, while providing the guidance and training needed to make sure the public is safe. My advice to her was to move to Jasper County.

We are fortunate in many ways to be in our neck of the woods. Most of our market workshops are the result of our great relationship with the University of Missouri Extension. The first market workshop, on Tuesday, November 2, will be on irrigation, with an emphasis on low-tech systems and will be on the Crowder Neosho campus. You may think that’s an odd location for a Webb City Farmers Market workshop, but we try to move the workshops around. Many of our farmers are located in Newton and McDonald counties, so Neosho will be a great location for them. Plus we invite the farmers of all the area markets to attend our workshops, as well as the general public. It’s our way of sharing the (knowledge) wealth with the whole region that gives us support.

Then we have a workshop on Monday, November 9, at the Southwest Research Center in Mount Vernon. It will be a farmer/rancher grant-writing workshop. Details on both workshops are on our blog:

Speaking of grant writing, we just received word that Webb City is the only market in the state to receive a 2010 Specialty Crops grant from the USDA (and we might be the only market in the country to receive the grant two years in a row!). The grant will allow us to work with Extension to put on regional workshops on high tunnels and on food safety.

This is the final market column of the season. News about the Winter Market and Holiday Market will appear in the news briefs. So it’s time to say thank you – to our wonderful volunteers like Marilyn Thornberry, Don McGowan, Duane Hunt, Sharon Nations, Donna Krudwig and Rick Ford. To our great non-profits who run Cooking for a Cause and the Benefit Breakfast. To General Mills and Schreiber for their generous food donations to the same. To the dozens of volunteers who help during various special market activities. To the Missouri Arts Council for their support of our music program and all the musicians who play at the market. To Tom Reeder, the park workers and the city for all they do and have done to make the market better. To Rochelle DeLucia and the master gardeners who supervise the Kids’ Community Garden. To the school for letting us share with students about local food and local farmers. To the area media who keep the community informed as to what’s happening and what’s in season at the market, especially to the Sentinel and Wise Buyer who go way beyond the call of duty. And, of course, to our vendors and customers to whom, in the end, the market owes all its success. We wish for you a wonderful winter, made all the better by the local produce, baked goods, honey and other goodies at the Winter Market. See you at the market!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Two grower/rancher workshops coming up fast!

Irrigation Workshop - 9:30 to Noon on Tuesday, November 3. for growers and hobbyists planting 5 acres or less. Topics includ low-tech irrigation systems, effective use of irrigation, mulching and other water conserving options. This free workshop will be on the second floor of the Arnold Fsrber Building, 601 Laclede, on the Crowder College Neosho campus in the Wright Conference Center.

SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) Grant Writing Workshop - 9:30 to 3:30 on Monday, November 9. Farmers and ranchers can learn how to write and submit proposals for grants to promote sustainable agriculture practices on their farm or ranch at this workshop at the Southwest Research Center in Mount Vernon, Missouri. Cost is $15, which includes lunch and workshop materials. To register, call 417 483-8139 by November 5.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Green Tomatoes

Like many gardeners and growers in the area, Resa Amos found herself this week with many green tomatoes that had to be harvested before frost. Since Resa is not fond of green tomato relish, she searched for a different way to use them and found the following recipe. The trial run resulted in such good bread that she plans to use it for all her green tomatoes, freeze the bread and enjoy it throughout the winter. One note - she baked the loaves for 1 hour rather than just 45 mintues.

3 eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 c. grated, drained, green tomatoes
3 c. flour
1 1/4 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c. raisins
1 c. chopped nuts

Beat eggs well. Add sugar, oil, salt, vanilla, and tomatoes. Sift dry ingredients together. Gradually add to tomato mixture. Stir in raisins and nuts. Pour into greased bread pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Makes 2 loaves.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Webb City Sentinel - 10/23/09

In the past, the end of the market season depended on the weather. The first hard freeze put us out of business. Well, not this year. With farmers preparing for Winter Market, the weather may put an end to certain field crops, but it won’t end production.

Today, customers will find peppers, yellow squash, zucchini and green beans a the market. That produce is normally rare in late October, but we are reaping the benefits of farmers planning for the upcoming Winter Market. Next week we may even have the first of the high tunnel tomatoes and cucumbers.

Of course, we’ll baked an array of fabulous baked goods, jams, jellies, and mums.

Fall produce is in good supply. Expect broccoli, cabbage, peanuts, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, radishes and turnips at the Circle E Ranch stand. Other growers have lettuce, acorn squash, boc choi, mustard greens, green onions, pumpkins… The list just goes on.

Who can we thank for this abundance? As unlikely as it sounds, we can thank our meat vendors. They’re not growing the produce, but they came up with the idea that makes winter vegetable production profitable. That’s because the meat vendors wanted a Winter Market. A twice-monthly market through the winter keeps their customers supplied and their profits up. Nancy Rasmussen, our chicken and beef rancher, took on the organization of the Winter Market, handling vendor placement and support. I did a little advertising. This year volunteer managers will handle the market and operate the information table and the debit/credit/EBT token system.

The Webb City Farmers Market started out 10 years ago with three vendors and look at us now. The Winter Market last year was primarily meat vendors and three bakers. This year we have added a baker (Black Forest Pastries will be selling through December and won’t that be great for the holidays?) and at least three farms with high tunnels. Plus the Palmers at Fair Haven tripled their sweet potato planting in anticipation of the Winter Market. Resa Amos plans to be at every first market of the month with honey.

So despite the cold weather today, you can expect to find loads of good things. And come November 6, you will find an expanded Winter Market.

Lunch today is meat loaf, au gratin potatoes, corn, brownies and drink for $6. Lots of folks have been doing take-out since it’s a little chilly to sit and eat. The Sours will play traditional music.

Next week, which is our last regular season market with music, the Loose Notes will play. Lunch will be all-you-can-eat chili, plus cookies and drink for $6.

We had a busy day last Friday. As always, the scarecrows from Webster School were wonderful. Mrs. Wales’ Webb City ScareCardinal won first place. Second place went to Mrs. B. Fowler’s class and third to Mrs. Cox’s class.

The winner of the giant pumpkin weight-guessing contest was Susan Cha. At 127 pounds, her guess was only off by 2 pounds from the actual weight of 125 pounds (the pumpkin outweighed Susan herself by about 90 pounds). Organic Way Farms threw in two additional giant pumpkins that were awarded to the second and third closest guessers – Paul Amoriello at 128 pounds and Jeni Spiva at 120 pounds.

Finally we were delighted to have the third-graders from Mark Twain Elementary visit the market last week, as well as dozens of toddlers with Webb City’s Parents as Teachers program. Like most Webb Citians, we are continually impressed by the breadth and depth of the educational opportunities provided by our school system and by the teachers and staff we see working with the students.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Training Time!!!

While market hours are reduced during the winter, market activities are not. Two workshops, presented by University of Missouri Extension in cooperation with the Webb City Farmers Market, are coming up quick:

Irrigation Workshop
9:30 – Noon Tuesday, November 3
Crowder College Neosho Campus
· Low-tech irrigation systems
· Effective use of irrigation
· Mulching and other water conserving options

Fertility and Weed Management Workshop
9:30 – Noon Tuesday, December 1
Crowder College Neosho Campus
· Preplant fertility management
· Use of litter and compost in fertility management
· Mulching for weed control
· Effective use of herbicides

These workshops are designed for fruit and vegetable growers, both professional and hobbyists, planting 5 acres or less. It is open to all at no charge. Hmong translation will be provided. For more information, contact Eileen Nichols at 417 483-8139.

All workshops will be in the Wright Conference Center on the second floor of the Arnold Farber Building, 601 Laclede, on the Crowder College Neosho campus. Park in the lot in front and come in the main doors.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Inside News - Where have all the flowers gone?

Sad to say, the Urban Gardeners have closed up shop for the season. We will miss their spectacular dahlia bouquets.

Webb City Sentinel - 10/16/09

We’re looking forward to a special market today. The third-graders from Mark Twain Elementary are coming for the first time ever. Children participating in Parents as Teachers are painting pumpkins at the market today. In honor of both, the street car will be running from 11 to 2. Rides are free and there will be room for all comers regardless of age.

We have two contests today. One is our annual scarecrow contest. More than twenty life-sized scarecrows will be set up and visitors can vote for their favorite. The scarecrows are made each year by the children of Webster First and Second Grade Center. We’ll also have a guess the weight of the pumpkin contest. The winner, drawn at 1:00 from the correct guesses, will win the giant pumpkin donated by Organic Way Farm.

Bailed Green and Wired Tight will play. Lunch is served from 11 to 1 and is beef stew, corn bread, chocolate cake and drink for $6. Sounds just right for the cool forecast.

I was talking to Tim Green today about the weather. He was commenting that his high tunnel plantings are, so far, resulting in a bountiful harvest of yellow squash and zucchini, but the burpless cucumbers are taking their time. He put it down to cool cloudy weather. “We should still be seeing 70 degrees during the day, at least that would be normal.” I begged to differ. I’m not sure what normal weather is anymore, even in Missouri where unpredictable weather is a running joke.

Gary Bandy of KSN-TV told me earlier this year (before his studio was destroyed by the high winds in May) that it was becoming difficult to predict the weather based on computer models because the models use past weather patterns which don’t seem to have much relevance to current patterns.

All of which means that farmers must use every tool available to be successful and the high tunnel, which looks like a clear quanset hut with crops planted directly in the ground, is one of those tools. It gives the farmer some control over the temperature, if not the amount of sunlight. We expect to have more than ten high tunnels in production for the winter market this year (that would be ten more than we had last year). There will be gaps in production, naturally, but there should be summer squash, green beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers through much of the winter, as well as cool weather crops like lettuce and spinach. Fresh produce plus meats, honey, jams, jellies and baked goods should result in a winter market well worth visiting.

The winter market begins in November on first and third Fridays from 11 to 2 under the pavilions. Cold won’t chase us away, though icy roads will. We don’t want our farmers or customers out on dangerous roads. While we don’t expect to have meals or music, we the wireless EBT, credit, debit machine so customers can use their cards and shop with market money.

Other market plans include the Holiday Market, held each year on the day before Thanksgiving from 11 to 1 at the Clubhouse, 115 South Madison. It will be a great time to stock up on honey, jams and jellies for the holidays (or for Christmas presents). There will be loads of baked goods, but to be sure you get what you want, like pumpkin or pecan pies, pumpkin rolls or coconut cakes from Hazel’s Bakery, or European or American pastries from the Black Forest House, I would order ahead. Just stop by your favorite baker at the market some Friday this month and place your order.

We will soon be saying farewell to the lovely red potatoes we have enjoyed this year. Before they’re gone, try this good make-ahead recipe that can be halved or quadrupled according to the crowd you’re expecting. I made it while taping at KOAM-TV last Friday morning, put it in an ice chest and drove to my daughter Emily’s house in Indiana on Saturday and baked it on Sunday for Emily and her friends after spending the day painting - & it was delicious. I felt a bit like Wonder Woman with a paint brush in one hand and a casserole in the other, though I have to admit, I didn’t look much like her.

Make Ahead Mashed Potato Casserole

10 potatoes (about 3 1/2 pounds)
1/2 pound cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 pinch dried marjoram
salt and pepper
1/2 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs

1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook potatoes for 20 minutes or until tender but not mushy.*

2. Drain and let cool slightly, peel.

3. With a potato masher, mash until smooth, do not use an electric mixer, blend in cream cheese and butter until melted.

4. Mix in onions, sour cream, parsley, marjoram, and salt and pepper to taste.

5. Transfer to 8 inch baking dish, smooth top.

6. Sprinkle with crumbs, (Casserole can be prepared to this point, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 week. Let thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours. Add 10 minutes to baking time.) Bake in 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until heated through and top is lightly golden.

*I prefer to peel and chunk the raw potatoes prior to boiling. And I don’t think you would go wrong by adding some shredded cheddar cheese in with the cream cheese.

Next Friday, lunch is meat loaf, au gratin potatoes, corn, brownies and drink for $6. Jack & Lee Ann Sours play. Let’s hope for warmer weather so Lee Ann doesn’t have to wear woolen gloves while playing the fiddle.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Inside News

Invite your friends to the market this Friday, it's going to be a big day. The Scarecrows from Webster First and Second Grade Center will be there. Visitors will vote for their favorites. There will also be a guessing contest - how much does the giant pumpkin donated by Organic Way Farm weigh? The winner will be drawn from the correct answers at 1. Organic Way will help load the pumpkin, but the winner will have to unload it!

The streetcar will run from 11 to 2. It's free!

Lunch is beef stew, cornbread, chocolate cake and drink for $6. Yum, sounds just right for fall. Bailed Green and Wired Tight are playing the whole market long because we have a bunch of special guests coming.

Parents as Teachers is hosting a pumpkin painting party for toddlers. Your kids are welcome too, as they are every Friday because the market sets up painting tables for their use. A little after noon, the third-graders from Mark Twain are visiting the market. It's the first time Mark Twain has come to the market, so we're very excited to have them.

What's up with the growers. Well, if you were at market Friday you probably noticed that the Agee's didn't show up with their sweet corn or flavored vinegars. Instead they were cleaning up after being swamped by 8 inches of rain. They advise that the gardens are destroyed - so sorry, no sweet corn.

The Troyers will be back this week. Last Friday they were part of the three-couple team that prepared lunch for a wedding party. They were expecting 400!

They're not at the market, but if you're looking for small pots of herbs to take you through the winter, stop by Frederickson Farms. I picked up parsley (they have curly and flat), oregano, chives and winter thyme. I'm going to love that fresh taste in the depths of winter. A 4' pot is only $1.50. The Farm is in Carl Junction. Just look for the pumpkin sign on Grimes Road on the way to downtown.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Webb City Sentinel column - 10/9/09

James and Dee Agee will be back at the market today. While they were between crops and hadn’t much to sell, they’ve been setting up at the Neosho Farmers Market. Now that their last patch of sweet corn is ready it’s worth the longer drive to Webb City. They will also have decorative Indian corn and corn stalks, as well as some produce fresh from their garden. I have been looking forward to their return because I want to buy several bottles of their flavored vinegars for Christmas gifts. It’s pretty, delicious and local.

Jamie Smith will not be at the market today because he must attend a funeral. He expects to return next Friday.

With our Friday-only schedule in October, I’ve had the chance to visit several markets this week. I find visiting other markets a great way to learn, plus I love markets.

Last Saturday I went to the Neosho market. Several of our vendors sell there and I had heard good things from those vendors about the new market.

It is certainly smaller than Webb City’s which isn’t surprising for a first season, but it felt full with abundant tables. I’m really impressed by their volunteer manager Mary Horine and by the city’s support. You may have read in the Globe that Neosho is pushing forward with plans to create a special park just for the market. Currently they are located a block northwest of the square on a parking lot which fits them well now but will, I expect, be too small next year.

Wednesday I got to visit the farmers market in Washington, Missouri. They are in a new pavilion built around an historic downtown structure. It’s full of features that I loved – fabulous bathrooms, covered roof with lights and fans, lovely landscaped and hard-topped parking. What I found a little iffy was the way vendors enter the space. They must drive right through the middle where the customers gather. There is no access from the outside other than two driveways to enter and exit. I find backing our trucks up to the pavilion is sometimes a bit too exciting if they arrive after customers have begun to congregate. I can’t imagine driving right through the customers, but Washington seems to have worked it out.
My friend Jo Letsinger and I were in the area to ride a segment of the Katy Trail. That’s a railroad bed that has been converted to a walking/biking trail. It begins near St. Louis and ends in Clinton and is under the care of the Missouri state parks system. The Katy Trail is considered one of our nation’s jewels when it comes to biking. I have to say that between the weather (which was fabulous),the trail, the scenery and the people we met both on the trail and in the adjoining businesses and farms, it was a wonderful experience that we hope to repeat.

We met a couple from Colorado who were about to complete the entire trail, having started in Clinton. I asked which part was their favorite and they couldn’t decide. The bluffs and the river between Columbia and Jeff City were spectacular but the rolling farmland and open river bottoms found between Augustus and Defiance had its own beauty. Not the breath-taking kind they were accustomed to in Colorado but a more gentle pleasing beauty, a beauty that cradled you rather than knocked you off your feet.

Fall is a great time to create beauty in your own neighborhood. We’ll have some gorgeous mums today and pumpkins of all sizes. I invite you to add some seasonal color to your life by stopping by the market.

Speaking of seasonal, it’s sweet potato time. Two of our farmers, Fairhaven and Circle E, planted lots of sweet potatoes this year with a goal of having enough to last beyond Thanksgiving. This versatile vegetable not only tastes good, but also is easy to prepare and is loaded with nutrition. Carrole Palmer of Fairhaven shared this recipe with me. It’s easy and tasty.

Sweet Potato Cobbler

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced to 1/4 inch
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup butter or oleo cubed

Pre-cook sweet potatoes in the water until crisp-tender (about 10 minutes).

Reserve 1 1/2 cup cooking liquid and drain off remaining liquid.

Layer potatoes in greased 13 x 9 x 2 pan. Add reserved 1 1/2 cup liquid. Combine sugar, flour, and spices and sprinkle over potatoes.

Dot with cubed butter.

Place pastry (see recipe below) over filling. Cut slits in top. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.


Mix with a fork: 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2/3 shortening and 5 – 6 tablespoons cold water. Roll out between layers of wax paper.

Hmmm-hmmm. Tastes like fall!

Lunch today is lasagna, side salad, garlic bread, peanut butter cookies & drink for $6. Gospel Strings play.

Next Friday is Scarecrow Day. Be sure to vote for your favorite! Lunch is beef stew, cornbread, chocolate cake and drink for $6. Bailed Green & Wired Tight will play.