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.