Thursday, July 8, 2010

Webb City Sentinel column - 7-9-10

It’s fruit season at the market (& it's always flower season - that's a photo of flowers at the Lee stand). Marilyn and I each had our first Red Haven peach this week, a pleasure that others can soon enjoy (as long as they’re at the market during the first hour). John Pate knows that Red Haven is my very favorite variety so he brought me the first one – ah, the perks of volunteering at the market.

We still have plenty of blackberries, but that will be ending in a week or so don’t miss them. The first of the raspberries arrived at the market this week. And with cooperation from the weather, we’ll start seeing melons soon.

Though we don’t think of tomatoes as a fruit, they are and the field tomatoes are finally here. We are loaded with tomatoes. If you are a canner, the next six weeks are a great time to buy tomatoes in quantity. Just check with the growers to see if they will sell in bulk. Often they have seconds that are fine for canning or salsa. Seconds are “ugly” tomatoes – tomatoes that have a blemish or odd shape, but with skin and flavor intact.

There is an exception to that seconds definition, and that is heirloom tomatoes. Heirlooms just naturally come in odd shapes so you may very well find an oddly shaped German Giant or a Brandywine Pink that is still a top quality tomato. In fact, whatever the shape, it’s hard to find an heirloom that I’d don’t like. They tend to ripen a bit later than the hybrid so it will likely be a couple of weeks before heirlooms are abundant at the market.

A word to the wise about corn – demand is exceeding supply, so be at market in the first hour if you want corn this week. Fairhaven and Broken Wire have both been bringing corn.

We’re looking for some additional volunteers at the market. We need a couple of knowledgeable gardeners who will work with our students when they harvest on garden day. Two students harvest each Tuesday and Saturday, meeting at the garden about 1 1/2 hours before market. Since I’m busy setting up at market at that time, they currently have no on-site guidance as to harvesting. So if you are available from 9 to 10:30 on Tuesday or 7:30 to 8:30 on Saturday to guide the children in harvesting squash, cucumbers, egg plant and tomatoes, please give me a call at 483-8139 or stop by the information table.

On Tuesday, Alice Pantoja was first in line buying two bouquets from the children. She gave them a twenty dollar bill and the kids handed her back sixteen. Alice, who always accessorizes with a bright smile, told the children “No, you need to count back the change to me. Here, I’ll show you.” And, sure enough, the children counted back change for the rest of the market. One more skill learned.

Another volunteer job at the market is driving the market cart. We are fortunate to have three cart drivers now but there are days when none can be at the market – and if that day is a Friday it can cause a problem. We’d like to have a few more folks trained to call on when needed.

Lunch today (Friday) is ham steak, au gratin potatoes, green beans, dessert and drink for $6. The Plainsfolk play between 11 and 1.

Tomorrow(Saturday), Big Brothers, Big Sisters serves breakfast till 11. We are delighted to have Center Creek Bluegrass return to the market Saturday after an absence of several years. The streetcar had been scheduled to run, but the crew has run into mechanical problems so we’ll probably have to reschedule.

Tuesday PEO serves Cooking for a Cause. The profits will go to their scholarship program for women attending college. Rob Pommert plays from 11 to 1.

Finally, I’d like to say a word of thanks to the many good people I am lucky to call friends. With little notice I have come to the east coast to help care for my college roommate who is terminally ill. From the market volunteers who stepped in to cover for me, to long time vendor (and nurse) Barbara Pate who assured me that a kind, firm hand on the shoulder is sometimes the best medicine, to the friends and family who are covering my other responsibilities, thank you. Your kindness means a lot to me.

Have a great time at the market this week – it’s high season!