Monday, June 28, 2010

Tuesday's Market

We should be buried in blackberries! Fairhaven and Wells Farms will have sweet corn. The first of the field tomatoes are coming in (& the last of the high tunnel ones, too). For last minute details, please check our Facebook page.

The kids' garden will have flowers just north of the information table. They harvested potatoes, turnips, and green beans today. Each took some home with instructions on preparation and cooking. They're still a couple of weeks away from harvesting their tomatoes. Hopefully there will be enough to add tomatoes to their sales table at the market then. (That's Zach and Timothy selling their flowers last week.)

This week is Crosslines week at the market. Crosslines, our regional food and clothing pantry, will receive all the profits from tomorrow's lunch and from Saturday's breakfast. Central United Methodist Church is providing the workers. We do this each year the week before the Fourth of July because we believe that America's generosity (as shown through Crosslines) is something to celebrate!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Come Find Me at the Market.....

Lost and found at the market - sun glasses, prescription glasses, keys & more. If you're missing any such things, please stop by the information table.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Friday & Saturday

Loads of corn, 100's of quarts of blackberries, bushels of green beans. It's high season at the market! (& we're only about a week away from field tomatoes.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Webb City Sentinel Column 6-25-10

We should have loads of sweet corn today (Friday). Troyers, Wells and Fairhaven are all bringing corn. Wells and Fairhaven plan to be at the market tomorrow as well. There will be plenty of choices. Want spray-free? Go to the Wells Farm at the central entrance. Want bi-color? Troyer’s the place. Like your corn pre-shucked? Wells and Fairhaven will have some ready for cooking. (That's Ron Wells stripping some corn during the market inspection last week.)

Panhia Vang returns to the market today and tomorrow with her lovely green beans. Pates will have the first early peaches. Broken Wire tells me that he has 140 green bell peppers ready for today’s market. Blueberries are still coming in and blackberries are entering into full harvest. In other words, it’s a great time to come to the market, but do try to get there in the first two hours because we can’t count on supply meeting demand.

Hazel’s Bakery won’t be at the market today. The Webb City High School Choir Boosters are filling in with a bake sale. They’ll be set up in Hazel’s place right next to the information table. On Saturdays, that space is filled by Lynette Rector who owns Freda Mae’s in Pierce City. Her meringue pies, granola and breakfast pastries are proving to be very popular.

The Kids Community Garden returns to the market with bouquets of flowers tomorrow. We had our first two “kid” vendors Tuesday and received many compliments on their deportment. Tim and Zach were eager sales people and clearly thrilled when making a sale.

Gardening is an important learning opportunity for the children. They learn about plants, about harvesting, about weeding – a lot, and the benefits of mulching to cut down on that weeding. But just as importantly, they learn to stay on task and to work cooperatively. They learn that results sometimes take time. You plant, you care for the plant and then two months later (if it doesn’t hail and bugs don’t invade and if the weather cooperates), you harvest.

When they sell at the market, each child takes a walk through the market with a manager who points out different styles (how many vendors do you see sitting down? None.), display methods (how do the vendors use color?), and products. The young vendors, like all our vendors, set their own prices, make their own price cards, select and arrange their bouquets, restock their table, engage the customers, make change and prepare the bouquets for travel. Each Tuesday and Saturday a different couple of kids will harvest and sell at the market. They divide their sales in thirds, each child gets a third and the market takes a third to pay their sales tax and cover some of the plant purchases – because we also want them to learn that running a successful business requires an investment.

I need to say a thank you to a couple of customers who gave us some important feedback. One was about the ingredients in the baked goods. The customer pointed out that people with food allergies or who are vegan or vegetarian might hesitate to buy baked goods since the ingredients are not always listed. At the market, the seller is also the baker. Like in a bakery, the baker can tell you exactly what is in each item and even how it was prepared. So we have put a sign by each baker inviting customers to ask about ingredients if they have special dietary requirements. That way they can get it straight from the baker’s mouth.

Another customer asked what our Asian farmers used for fertilizer. Apparently he had been overseas and seen farming practices that were not safe. I had wondered why some folks steered clear of the Asian growers and that explains it. So this gives me the chance to say that all our growers, Asian included, have gone through food safety training, which includes training on the safe use of fertilizer. When we make farm visits, we always review food safety practices including fertilizer and irrigation sources. In the case of our Asian farmers, that’s a lot of visits since last year University of Missouri Extension received a grant, which enabled a horticulturist to visit each Asian farmer once a week all summer. And what the horticulturist found was not a fertilizer safety problem, but a lack of fertilizer. So Extension and the market spent a lot of time and effort making sure our Asian farmers know how to safely and correctly apply fertilizer in order to improve their productivity.

I really appreciate the customer bringing up this concern so it could be addressed. Food safety is a top priority at the market and we want our customers to know that every grower has been trained and inspected to make sure that we are fresh, local and SAFE.

Lunch today is lasagna, tossed salad, garlic bread, cookies and drink for $6. There will also be a luncheon salad for $4 for vegetarians and light eaters. Bailed Green and Wired Tight will play.

Tomorrow Crimestoppers serves breakfast and the Loose Notes play.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Webb City Sentinel Column - 6-18-10

The streetcar gives free rides today (Friday) from 11:30 to 1. Lunch today is chicken salad sandwich, potato salad, cole slaw, cheesecake & drink for $6. Webb City’s own Gospel Strings perform.
Tomorrow, Carl Junction Order of the Eastern Star serves breakfast from 9 to 11. Drywood Bluegrass plays from 9:30 to 11:30.

On Tuesday, Children’s Haven serves lunch from 11 to 1 and Rob Pommert plays.

We hear from our customers in many ways, by phone, in person, by email and Facebook. All are important sources of information for us and we appreciate the feedback.

For example, a customer suggested a few weeks ago that we needed more ways to carry purchases than just our market wagon. So we now have Shop & Roll baskets. You’ll find them at each end of the pavilion and at the information table. They can hold up to 55 pounds when used as a rolling basket and 33 pounds when carried by the handle. Though not sturdy enough to roll on the gravel, they seem to be working well on the concrete floor of the pavilion. Of course, if you need help taking your purchases to your car, just look for the golf cart or go to the information table and we’ll lend a hand.

Our Facebook page has also been a great source of information from customers. We’ve had a recent discussion regarding corn – and corn worms. That has allowed us to let folks know that the market board adopted a new corn policy this winter. Now when a load of corn pulls in, one of the market managers selects six ears at random, shucks them and displays them just as they are in a clear plastic bag at that stand so folks can see a representative selection. With the shuck on, it’s impossible to tell if there are worms or worm damage or if the corn is well-filled or skimpy or even if it is yellow or bi-color. Now when you buy corn, you can look over the display bag at each stand and choose the corn you want.

In discussing corn, a customer also brought up the practice of farming without chemicals. There is a common misconception that all farmers market are organic. Some are, some are not. Webb City’s is not. In fact, we have no certified organic growers. Our meat producers tell us they use no chemicals, hormones or antibiotics, but they are not regulated by the market or the government (although we have never seen any evidence of chemicals, etc., when we inspect their farms). We also have several growers, like the Agees, Organic Way and the Urban Gardeners who tell us they use no chemicals. Other growers use chemicals on a very limited basis and some are conventional growers and use chemicals as one of their management tools. All of which means that if you are interested in limited or no chemicals, just talk to the farmer. That is the one of the advantages of buying directly from the farmer at the market. They should be able to tell you all about their growing techniques.

Green beans came into their own this week. We should have bushels and bushels of them today and tomorrow – and for the next few weeks as well. Fredrickson Farm, as part of their mentoring program, had their students trying green bean recipes this week. They have been kind enough to share a new one, which I have printed below. They’ll have others at the market at their stand. So load up on green beans and stop by Frederickson’s in the pavilion center for recipes – or buy new potatoes too and just savor the season.

Fried Green Beans
recipe courtesy of The Neely’s

Peanut oil for frying
2 cups beer or milk
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 tsp ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 lb green beans, ends trimmed
Preheat oil to 375 degrees F

Whisk the beer or milk, flour, salt and pepper until smooth and until the batter would coat the back of a spoon.

Dip green beans into batter to coat, letting excess drip off. Fry in the peanut oil in batches, until they are golden and crisp. Remove from oil with a spider strainer to a paper towel lined sheet tray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

I think that I actually like these better than onion rings. We made both using the same batter recipe. We also used ranch dressing as a dip for the fried green beans and onions. Enjoy!!! Tami Fredrickson

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sweet Corn

If you've bought corn at the market you may have noticed a new policy this year. Prior to each market opening, one of the market managers goes to each grower selling corn and selects at random six ears which are stripped and placed in a clear bag just as they are. This bag is then displayed at that stand so customers can see a representative sample. Corn can be tricky to buy if its still in the shuck. We hope this will help prevent any unpleasant suprises.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sentinel column - 6-11-10

Hector Troyer is making a liar out of me today. If you know Hector, you know it’s accidental. He’s such a gentle soul, he’d never trip me up on purpose. I told at least 20 people last week that it would be the first of July before we’d see any sweet corn. Wrong! Hector called yesterday to say he was picking his early corn for market today. He thought he’d have about 100 dozen ears.

I should have re- membered from our market visit to Hector’s farm in April that he already had corn up (the photo is one taken that day). He’d planted it with a clear plastic mulch, which theoretically warms the soil faster and gives the farmer an even better head start. Apparently it worked, because Hector’s harvesting five days earlier than he had projected.

There may be some harvesting gaps, but with a little luck, we’ll be in corn for the rest of the season. Fair Haven also planted an early crop. It was tasseling when we visited last week so it should be ready in the next two weeks. Kristie Wells from up Jasper way called to say she is about three weeks away.

The Eichers, who supplied about a third of our corn last year, do not expect to sell at the market this year. They’ve opened their own store on 96 highway a few miles east of Carthage. They were kind enough to give me a head’s up last winter, giving me plenty of time to urge my other farmers to PLANT CORN. And now we get to reap the benefits. OK, they reap, we eat.

Before we leave the topic of corn, let me say in my own defense that this is the first year I can remember that the early corn didn’t get caught by a late freeze and it’s the first year that any of our farmers tried clear plastic and it’s definitely the first year we’ve had corn by June 11th.

Blackberries should begin to appear at the market today. The Agee’s from Fairview will be at the market for the first time this season with blackberries and gooseberries. While they are not certified organic, James and Dee do grow without chemicals and focus on heirloom produce and other specialty items like their lovely flavored oils. And they are great appreciators of fine foods. Last year we scheduled our farm inspection at their place for around noon. We really weren’t hinting for a meal, but Dee said “My mother taught me to have a meal ready when folks are due at noon.” It was really good – almost everything was from their garden from beginning to end, including the drinks. If you love local foods, be sure to visit with them. You can wax rhapsodic together.

And speaking of the finer things in life, consider buying a bouquet of flowers at the market. Many of our growers have planted cutting gardens this year and the market is overflowing with beautiful flowers.

Lunch today is meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, green beans, cake and drink for $6. Red Bridge with Alan Young will play today between 11 and 1. Red Bridge is a version of the Missouri Mountain Gang who have entertained many times at the market and are known for their hard-driving bluegrass.

Tomorrow is going to be the first time we’ve ever had blueberries at a Saturday market. Our growers usually run you-pick operations and are too busy to make the Saturday market. But this year we have a grower who does only very limited you-pick and will be at the market on Saturdays only. That means we should have a good supply of blueberries available at every market until the blueberries play out.

Tomorrow is also our Art Market day when we welcome local artists to sell at the market. We plan to have the Art Market every second Saturday through September.

PEO is serving breakfast tomorrow from 9 to 11. Their profits go towards scholarships. The Anderson Brothers will play from 9:30 to 11:30.

Next Tuesday, Cooking for a Cause benefits the Webb City Police Explorers Club. This is a group sponsored by the police department for young people interested in law enforcement as a career. So come out for a hotdog, hamburger or smoked sausages and support our kids.

Friday at the Market

Hector Troyer will have sweet corn. Double JJ & Braker Farms will have blueberries. The Agees will be at the market for the first time with "with a few gooseberries, blackberries and a few other things". Fair Haven is taking a short vacay and expect to be back next Friday.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Webb City Sentinel column - 6-4-10

Marilyn and I had a full day of farm visits Wednesday. We drove our northern route, which takes us all the way past Nevada to the furthest extent of our market vendor range. We accept vendors as far as 70 miles from Webb City. We think that’s about as far as we can still be truly local.

Every market sets its own rules for who can sell. Some go by counties, some by miles and some have no restrictions at all. In Kansas City, City Market goes a remarkable 500 miles. I say remarkable because that’s a really long way for a farmer to drive to market and a really long way for a manager to drive to make farm visits. Deb Conners, their manager, spends every Tuesday visiting farms, but then she’s paid to do it, while Marilyn and I are not.

However, there are certainly perks associated with the visits. Barb and John Pate (that's John in the photo thinning peaches) took us out to a very good Mexican restaurant in Stockton yesterday. As an added bonus, their grandson Ryan was with us and came to my rescue when one of the kids from the kids community garden texted me (is that a word – texted?). Needless to say, texting is not something I’m conversant with, so Ryan handled it. So nice to have an expert on hand.

Here are some of the things we saw on our visits. At Sunny Lane Farms, flocks of sheep and herds of cattle moving through waving fields of tall lush grass. Trees at Pates Orchard loaded with small peaches, nectarines and apples. Six hundred foot rows of specialty peppers at Broken Wire Ranch. Fields of sweet corn at Fair Haven Gardens. Like at Sunny Lane, there was an occasional wave at Fair Haven as well. The Fair Haven corn is planted by horsepower – literally. And one of the horses always seems to be in a hurry – that makes for the occasional less than straight row.

The hailstorm Wednesday night was very hard on Fredrickson Farms in Carl Junction. They had planned to start picking zucchini and squash yesterday for the first time, but after the storm not only was the produce gone, but the plants themselves were demolished. Tami thinks the hybrid tomato plants will recover, but the heirlooms are in shreds. She said they would begin replanting immediately. Like any true farmer, Tami takes the long view and counts it as a learning experience for their interns. She always seems to see the glass as half full.

We’re expecting a pavilion full of vendors today. Lunch is all-you-can-eat chili with fixin’s, plus banana pudding and drink for $6. The Sours play traditional music between 11 and 1.

Tomorrow is our first regular Saturday market. We’ll be open from 9 to noon. The Webb City High School Choir Boosters will serve breakfast from 9 to 11 -biscuits and gravy, sausage, eggs to order and coffee and orange juice. The Granny Chicks will play between 9:30 and 11:30. We’ll be open on Saturday mornings through September.

We have some new Saturday bakers this year, including Lynette Rector who runs Freda Mae’s in Pierce City. Lynette is famous for her cream pies and I love her cinnamon sticks.

We’ll have a guest baker next Tuesday when the Vintage Bakery and Bistro sells giant cupcakes and pies. The bakery recently opened in downtown Webb City in the newly remodeled former city hall. They serve a good lunch there, as well as baked goods.
On Tuesday Rob Pommert will play and PEO will serve hotdogs, hamburgers and smoked sausages. Profits from Cooking for a Cause will go to their scholarship program.