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.