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.