Thursday, September 30, 2010

Webb City Sentinel Column - 10/1/10

It’s Mum Day at the market today, chrysanthemums that is. We should have hundreds of mums in a wide variety of colors and sizes. It will probably be our only market with three large mum vendors: Troyer Farms, Heidi Stoller and Countryside View Greenhouse.

I guess we should call today Mums and More. Fairview Gardens has their decorative gourds and squash, as well as their broom corn which could be called ubercornstalks, tall and beautiful. JKL Pumpkins has a wonderful selection of decorative pumpkins, from big to little, green to orange, some straight out of fairytales like Cinderella.
John Pate tells me that he’s bringing some tomatoes today – they’ll go fast. He’ll have the last of this year’s peaches, plus apples. We have a good supply of green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, green onions, sweet and hot peppers, cucumbers and greens, as well as radishes, winter squash, potatoes, beets, herbs, and ginger.

In October, we’re open on Fridays from 11 to 2. We’ll be revisiting our fall schedule as we plan for 2011. We’d like to stay open on Saturdays in October because most of our Saturday customers cannot come during the work week, but it is hard for our growers to harvest enough produce for two days in a row this late in the growing season. Giving up Friday for Saturday is a little scary because we have twice as many customers on Friday. So, Friday customers – would you be willing to go to a Tuesday/Saturday schedule in October next year?

The Kids Community Garden on Aylor Street is “finished” for the year. Last week we dug the sweet potatoes and that was probably the best garden fun of the year. It was like a treasure hunt!

We decided to leave the garden in place until frost because there are still loads of flowers blooming. The children invite you to stop by and pick a bouquet anytime. While there you’ll notice a couple of patches of newly-planted turnips. That’s part of our cover crop, also known as green manure. The turnips will be turned under later this fall to improve the soil. The first cover crop planting, buckwheat, was tilled in last week. Good soil is essential for a good garden. That’s an important lesson for any grower, whether middle school or middle-aged.

On the topic of lessons, the market is planning its winter training sessions. We have a Food Safety: from field to market workshop set for December 4 in Springfield. All growers selling edible produce at the Webb City market must have attended a food safety workshop within three years.

You might ask, why Springfield? We’ve held the workshop in Webb City, Mt Vernon and Joplin and trained over 200 farmers. Obviously most of those farmers don’t sell at our market, but we think food safety is so important that we want all area growers to be trained. After all, a food contamination issue at a Springfield market will adversely affect all the markets in southwest Missouri. So we move the training around the area to try to catch everyone.

We’re also involved in a grant writing workshop for farmers and ranchers in Mount Vernon on October 12 and a high tunnel workshop near Monett on October 26. So even though the growing season is slowing down, the behind the scenes work for the market and farmers is picking up.

As we savor these beautiful fall days, don’t forget to savor the fresh produce. There are still lots of wonderful crops thriving. In a few months, fresh produce will be hard to come by, so enjoy it now.

Lunch today is lasagna, side salad, garlic bread, cookies and drink for $6. There’s also a luncheon salad for $4. The Sours will play traditional music. Suzie & Sammy Scarecrow will be at the market to pose for photos with the kids and grownups.