Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sentinel column - 5-28-10

I started my day off right this morning. My friend Carol Ott called to tell me a “Nickyism”. Her son Nicky is a young man with a huge heart but limited mental abilities. Nicky goes to church with many of the market volunteers and we can always count on an enthusiastic hug whenever we see him. That's Nicky giving a hug to Miss Peggy (Bailey) who was his kindergarten teacher at church.

Carol said she always begins the day by asking Nicky what he’d like to do. Tuesday his immediate response was “I need to go to that market.” Carol wasn’t sure what Nicky meant, so she asked what market. “That friendly market where everyone says hi to me.” Do you mean the farmers market? “Yes, I need to go to the friendly farmers market.”

Bless your heart, Nicky, for reminding us that smiles and kind words are among our most important offerings at the market.

There will be plenty to smile about today. One thing I’m especially looking forward to is the performance of Swing Grass. This local group does a personalized and updated version of bluegrass and I do mean personalized. One member, Jason Brown, has even written a farmers market song after coming to the market to soak up the atmosphere.

More good things we expect today:

There will be a plentiful supply of pie cherries at the Urban Gardeners and at Dale Mermoud’s table. Hector Troyer will be back with some of his wonderful hanging baskets. The Carl Junction FFA will also be at the market. And the produce just keeps pouring in as more crops come into season.

We’ve had a good supply of strawberries this week, which brings up a question from a friend. Why are the strawberries so expensive?

The market strawberries can seem expensive when compared to grocery store strawberries – especially after the store prices we saw in April when there was such a glut of Florida strawberries that they were plowing under bearing plants to reduce the supply.

If you’ve bought market strawberries, you know that they are fragile. They’re packed with flavor, but should be eaten or prepared within a day or two of purchase. The taste is amazing but sturdy they are not. If you tried to ship market berries across the country, you’d end up with jam – really good jam, but jam none the less.

That fragility begins in the field. It is not uncommon for as much as half the crop to be lost in the field from weather conditions like too much rain or late frosts. I have visited farms where the rows between the plants are filled with harvested berries that were damaged and unsaleable. In the case of frost damage, the whole crop can be lost. All of which means that for every basket sold, our farmer has probably lost at least another basket to damage.

So even though the price may seem high, the profits are not. In fact, most of our farmers grow strawberries because our customers love them, not because strawberries are a sure source of income.

At our market, vendors set their own price. When asked, I might suggest a new grower consider what other growers charge at the market, as well as the quality of their product and the cost of growing it when setting the price. But the price is the vendor’s decision.

Please believe me when I say, our vendors are not getting rich from market sales. We visit every vendor and they almost all live modestly and many depend on second jobs to pay the bills. They are farmers, ranchers, and bakers because they love what they do and they work really hard doing it.

Lunch today is barbecued beef sandwich, potato salad, oriental cole slaw, fruit cup and drink for $6. There is also a luncheon salad for $4.

Next week, Cooking for a Cause benefits the Joplin Business Women of Missouri. Rob Pommert plays.

On June 5th, we begin our Saturday market from 9 to noon.

We hope to see you at our friendly farmers market and be sure to say “hi” if you see Nicky.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Who Knew?

Many of the pastries at the Black Forest House pastry table at the market have a story. For example, the Schillerlocken (we call them cream horns) harks back to Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, a poet, dramatist & historian who lived in Germany at the turn of the 19th century. You probably know his work - he wrote the poem that Beethoven set to music in Ode to Joy.
The name refers to the way he wore his hair. Now, how cool is that? That little Webb City has a pastry commemorating a dead German poet's hair style!

& it's really tasty & sugar-free.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Webb City Sentinel Column - 5/21/10

This time of year is always fun because you never know what you’ll find at the market. It’s almost like Christmas, except you don’t have to unwrap the surprises.

Tuesday we entered into the season of abundant new potatoes. I saw red, white and fingerling potatoes. New potatoes are typically only available at the farmers market. Because they are harvested before maturity and are not cured, they are just too fragile to stand up to much handling. And even at the market you may notice the skins of the red potatoes are torn. The skin is very thin and easily scuffed. In fact one way to tell if they are indeed new potatoes is to rub the skin – if it’s a new potato, the skin should feather off easily.

A new potato is best used immediately, but can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Other new tasty treats at the market – edible pods peas, kohlrabi, dill, and leeks.

Fridays are great days to buy herbs because that’s when most of our plant vendors are in residence. And now is the time to buy herbs. If you want to make your own pesto later this summer, you need to get your basil plants in the ground now. Actually, I have better luck planting basil in a very large clay pot rather than in the ground. Fresh basil is terrific in almost any dish using tomatoes as well. It’s hard to beat sliced local tomatoes drizzled with a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a touch of local honey and topped with chopped basil. Hmmm, can’t wait for July! Basil is just one of many herbs you’ll find right now at the market.

We have a new plant vendor coming today – the Carl Junction FFA is selling hanging baskets. They’ll be next to Fredrickson Farms.

Lunch today is spaghetti, tossed salad, garlic bread, chocolate fluff and drink for $6. There is also a luncheon salad available. Webb City’s own Gospel Strings plays between 11 and 1.

Next Tuesday, Cooking for a Cause benefits Greyhound Pets of America. I should dispel a mistaken report made by a member of the media last week who said last week’s group raised $6,000 at Cooking for a Cause. Would that it were true, but it’s not. Typically groups raise between $150 and $300 at Cooking for a Cause. Not bad for a few hours effort, but nowhere near $6,000. The benefit meals for this year are already fully booked, so I guess the participating non-profits find it worthwhile. So if you’re looking for an inexpensive meal that supports a good cause, drop by the market any Tuesday between 11 and 1. Where else can you enjoy a meal for no more than $3.50 while being serenaded by our wonderful musician, Rob Pommert?

Here’s an easy make-ahead recipe that takes advantage of what’s available at the market:

New Potato Salad

1 1/2 pounds red new potatoes, sliced 1 inch thick
1 teaspoon lemon zest plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as a combination of chives, parsley and thyme
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Put a steamer basket in a large pot with a lid. Fill with water to just below the basket and bring to a boil. Place potatoes in basket, reduce to a simmer, cover and steam until tender, about 10 – 12 minutes. Toss occasionally while steaming.

Put zest and juice in a bowl. Gently add cooked potatoes, season with salt and pepper and toss gently until covered. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Toss cooled potatoes with herbs and oil, season as needed.

Can be stored for up to 1 day covered in a refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tuesday Market

John Pate just called to say that he'll be at market tomorrow (Tuesday) with strawberries and tomatoes. That means we should have 5 farms with berries - the season is short so take advantage of the abundance.

You may ask - tomatoes in May? (& actually, Tim Green with Shoal Creek will have tomatoes, too)

Early tomatoes are planted in high tunnels where they are protected from the cold spring weather. That gives the farmer a one to two month jump on the season.

Above, Tim Green, Jr., demonstrates tomato pruning at a market workshop on their farm April 5th. Note the tomatoes are already blooming.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Several Vendors will not be at Friday's Market

Several vendors will not be at market Friday:

Flintrock Ranch - buffalo, elk, eggs
Troyer Farms - hanging baskets
Countryside View Greenhouse - plants & baskets
JJ Blueberry Farm

But we're expecting everyone else!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sentinel Column - 5-14-10

At Tuesday’s market we had strawberries! Today we should have hundreds of quarts of local strawberries bursting with flavor.

Other new produce at the market Tuesday included broccoli, peas, new potatoes, head lettuce and garlic. Add all the other spring produce in season (and the items I don’t even know about yet) and you’ll find loaded tables at the market.

Today we have Irish music by the Springfield group Reel Greene between 11 and 1. Lunch is barbecue chicken breast, stuffing, corn, cake and drink for $6. The Reed’s have added a green luncheon salad to the menu for $4 for those who want to eat light or vegetarian. For an extra dollar, dessert and a drink can be added to the salad.

Next Tuesday, Cooking for a Cause benefits Crime Stoppers. This organization is new locally, but has operated nationwide since 1976. The community-based organization offers rewards of up to $1,000 for anonymous tips that solve crimes. Nationwide since 1976, Crime Stopper tips have resulted in 524,755 arrests and in 862,460 criminal cases being cleared. Stolen property worth $1,087,244,449 has been recovered through the tips and $2,973,998,403 in drugs have been seized. You can take a “bite out of crime” and a burger on Tuesday. (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist that.)

Now for a complete change of topic - my aching body reminds me why I manage the market and don’t grow the food. I just finished a three-hour stint in the Kids Community Garden on Aylor Street. The kids planted flowers and then I stayed to put down straw mulch in hopes of keeping the weeds in check. We try to have the students do most of the work, but tender young plants need to be mulched gently and with care and that can be pretty challenging for 15 very active kids. I did have three students mulch the sturdiest of the newly planted flowers – the giant sunflowers. The other children will get their chance to mulch later after the plants have grown a bit and can stand up to a bit rougher treatment.

We’re devoting a major part of the kids garden this year to cutting flowers in hopes that they will be able to sell them at the Saturday market throughout the summer. Violet Green from Shoal Creek grew the plants for us in her greenhouse. There will be zinnias, asters, cosmos, and sunflowers of every size. Just for fun, the garden is lined with marigolds. The students are, of course, very interested in selling at the market. They see dollars, we see experience in working with the public and in marketing and business skills.

Market growers Tim Green and Dale Mermoud are working with us at the garden. Fredrickson Farms in Carl Junction serves as our outdoor laboratory, hosting the children for behind-the-scenes farm tours.

Tami and Steve Fredrickson have a passion for passing on their love of farming to students. They have worked with the Carl Junction FFA for many years and have developed an internship program at the farm, combining a summer job and extensive training for up to four students.

Fredrickson Farms was one of two farms at our market that received grants from SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education). That’s a federal program that awarded small grants to fewer than 50 farms in the entire Midwest. We were pleased that two of our farms had projects deemed worthy of selection.

Fredrickson Farms will expand their internship program, using two older, experienced students as mentors to two younger at-risk students this summer. The grant will help with the salary expenses for the mentors. You will see the Fredrickson mentors and interns at the market this season.

Sunny Lane Farm received a grant to capture and reuse rainwater through gravity and solar power. The water will be directed away from the barn pens where it created a muddy mess to watering troughs in the various pastures through which their cattle are rotated.

Both projects will serve as models for other farmers and ranchers throughout the United States.

Strawberries and spinach salad is the essence of seasonal eating. There are only about three weeks of the year that we can enjoy that combination of local produce. This easy recipe is from the University of Missouri Extension Family Nutrition Education Program:

2 cups sliced strawberries
9 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
Mix berries and spinach in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, mix dressing ingredients well.
Pour over salad and serve.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wow! It's Strawberry Season

We're expecting (if the weather cooperates with harvest) many hundreds of quarts of strawberries on Friday. If you haven't eaten local strawberries - you are going to be blown away by the flavor - it's intense!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sunny Lane Farm

Sunny Lane Farm recently made a new flyer describing their operation. We thought you might be interested. Sunny Lane is at the market every market day with beef, chicken and lamb. Our other meat vendors have similar operations. Flintrock Ranch, with buffalo, beef and eggs, and Madewell Pork, with pork products, are at the market every Friday.

About Sunny Lane Farm:

Sometimes doing things the old-fashioned way is the best way. Years ago livestock and poultry were raised as God intended them to be raised: on green grass with fresh water and ample sunshine, using natural resources to produce a very lean and healthful meat. Certainly it takes more time and effort to raise animals this way.... but at Sunny Lane Farm we believe that things that take time and effort are worthwhile both for us and for our customers.

We believe at Sunny Lane Farm that we can bring to your table a very nutritious and delicious product by adhering to the practice of raising our animals the old-fashioned way. This takes time because our beef are handled using low-stress methods. Low-stress animals produce a tender meat. They are not crowded into commercial pens or feedlots. They are not given routine antibiotics, growth hormones, animal by-products or feeds that do not agree with their digestive systems. We never use pesticides, herbicides or commercial fertilizers on our pastures. To ensure that our cattle get the best grass, we use management intensive grazing which means that the cattle are rotated through a system of paddocks in the pasture every few days. With this method, they eat the best of the grass, with the most nutrients, which means the meat you serve on your table has the most nutrients possible. Grassfed beef produces a meat that is lean and full of good things like Omega 3, Beta Carotene, and CLA's (cancer-fighters). We are happy that we can provide a quality beef product using methods that help us to be good stewards of our animals and of our land. We process our beef only at USDA or state-inspected facilities to help ensure safety and quality.

We also raise Katahdin sheep at Sunny Lane Farm using a grazing rotation pattern similar to that for our beef. We interact with our sheep and other livestock daily and enjoy working with them. We have a llama on guard duty to protect our sheep from predators.

We use the same method for our pasture-raised broiler chickens, but they are moved more frequently than the cattle. They are housed in moveable pens that give them access to shelter during bad weather, but allow foraging as nature intended for them to do. They are supplemented with grains that have only plant protein and no animal by-products. We never feed them routine antibiotics or growth hormones, and don't use herbicides, pesticides or commercial fertilizers on our pastures because we do not want these chemicals in our animals. Our poultry is processed at a USDA or state-inspected facility.

We are a family farm, and are members of several organizations that support our beliefs in raising quality natural products and improving our environment by being good stewards of the land. We appreciate bringing a quality product to our customers. We hope you will get to know us, and trust our service to you. We sell our products at natural food stores, farmers markets and from the farm. We sometimes are also able to deliver to you. Please give us a call if you have ques tons, or stop by to see us.

Greg and Nancy Rasmussen
200 West US Highway 160
Lockwood, Missouri 65682
417 637-2991

Sunday, May 9, 2010

At Tuesday's Market

If you have a tree or shrub with pest problems or that's looking poorly, bring a sample sprig or leafy limb to the market Tuesday between 11 and 1. Jon Skinner, the urban forester with the Department of Conservation, will diagnose and recommend a treatment.

Cooking for a Cause benefits the Carthage Hugs Project - a national non-profit whose mission is: giving a "hug" (handmade items for warmth or cooling depending on season) to every American serving in the Middle East. This is our way of saying "Thank you, we appreciate you for the difficult job you do". Beta Sigma Phi will provide the meal volunteers.

Rob Pommert returns as our Tuesday musician with golden oldies, jaz and classical guitar.

Did you know? Marlee's Creamery of Carthage is one of only three dairies in the state licensed to sell raw milk.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sentinel article - 5/7/10

Strong winds and the occasional downpour didn’t dampen our spirits on the market’s opening day last week. About 350 of our friends had lunch with us and close to 1,000 came to celebrate the new season. We were very thankful for a roof over our heads and dry concrete below us.

We have a special weekend starting today when Jack and Lee Ann Sours will play from 11 to 1 and lunch will be all-you-can-eat ham and beans, plus cornbread, brownies and drink for $6. You’ll find all this at the north end of the pavilion near our brand new cook house.

The market board bought the little house so we would have a clean, safe place to store all our cooking supplies. It’s also wonderfully handy for the cooking crews. Last Saturday, Joe Palmer of Fairhaven Gardens, installed a deck on the north end of the house for the barbecue grill. With the picnic tables nearby, it feels like a party.

Tomorrow is our annual day-before-Mother’s-Day market. We’re open from 9 to noon on Saturday and will have many of our regular vendors with produce, beef, chicken, lamb, honey, jams, jellies, and raw milk. There will be gifts for Mom, including flower-filled hanging baskets, handcrafted garden furniture and jewelry.

Saturday is also our Let’s Plant a Garden Day when every child receives a free tomato plant, fertilizer and instructions. We define “child” broadly – babe through college.

Ninth Hour, an almost local group that sings gospel and more, will perform between 9:30 and 11:30. The Carl Junction chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star will serve breakfast from 9 to 11. The menu includes biscuits and gravy, sausage, eggs to order, orange juice and coffee.

This will be our only Saturday in May because it’s still early in the growing season and hard to come up with enough produce for two days in a row regularly. However, by June the fields will be overflowing, so we’ll be open every Saturday from June 5 through September 25.

Our blog site has calendars for May and June with upcoming menus, music and non-profits scheduled for the benefit meals. Tuesday’s Cooking for a Cause became so popular with local non-profits last year, that we added the Saturday breakfast so we could accommodate more. That gave us 17 more fundraising opportunities and every last one of the Tuesday and Saturday dates is already booked for 2010. It’s a great way for local worthy causes to raise money and share their stories with the community.

Speaking of the blog, the market opened a Facebook page over the weekend. As of Thursday morning, we had 420 “friends” – very cool. We hope it will be a great way to let folks know what’s happening at the market. Which is not to say that you can’t keep in the loop the old fashioned way – right here in the Sentinel. Between blogging, twittering, f-book, web sites ... it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the internet. Thank goodness for the Sentinel – source of great photos and reliable community news. Three cheers for a Webb City treasure.

I did a tasty little recipe with Carol Parker on KSN last week. I’m not a huge fan of egg salad, but I really like the zing and texture of this dish.

And remember, do not use fresh eggs for boiling; they are a disaster when peeled. The membrane between the egg and the shell is tight to each when fresh, but releases from the shell over time. So use the new eggs for baking and breakfast dishes and save the older eggs for boiling.

Egg Salad with a spring twist

8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 tablespoon radishes grated on large holes
salt and pepper to taste

Grate eggs on the large hole of the grater. Add other ingredients. Adjust to taste. Mustard and vinegar add tang.

Garnish with paprika or chopped parsley if desired.

Place on a bed of fresh greens and enjoy as a sandwich, cracker topping or lettuce wrap.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Market on Tuesday

The forecast looks good, the picnic tables are set out and if the wind is calm we'll put umbrellas up. It should look quite festive as you drive in. You'll find Cooking for a Cause on the north end of the pavilion this year & Tuesday (5-4) you'll find the German Club of MSSU serving. The Neato Brothers will play classic country from 11 to 1.

We just got in a new supply of canvas market bags. Get yours for $5 each at the information table. (we make a whole 50 cents per bag - but we don't have the bags printed to make money, we do it because our farmers wanted to cut down on plastic - They hate cleaning plastic bags out of their fence rows and ponds.)

I'm going to try something new tomorrow - a market report right before we open. If all goes well, it will be posted on facebook at about 10:30.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Opening Day & Facebook premier

For photos of our opening day, go to

market facebook page

& while you're there, please become a market friend and invite your friends as well.