Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Webb City Sentinel column - 6-3-11

It was comforting on Tuesday when our customers flocked back to the market. I was happy for my vendors who had the first relatively normal day since the tornado, but I was also happy for my customers who were able to recover some normality in their lives.

It will be a long time before life is truly normal, but little by little homes are being repaired or replaced, businesses are relocating or rebuilding. It is the loss of life that leaves the deepest sorrow. As we at the market resume our activities and celebrate the seasons, we are acutely mindful that for many, celebration is impossible. In the midst of the market’s abundance, we know the pain and grief remain.

We will continue to collect donations at the Donation Station at the market through tomorrow. Then the funds will be sent to the appropriate organizations involved in recovery.

Our farmers continue to respond generously with both cash and product donations. Since the tornado, they have supplied produce, baked goods and eggs to the Salvation Army and Ignite Church which is running a shelter. Yesterday one of our customers came by with another opportunity. The Americorp team came in Sunday night and is based at MSSU. Not surprisingly for a group of young people with a heart for service, most of the team is vegetarian – might we have some produce for them? Our farmers were happy to oblige.

I say this every year, but it’s true, each week brings something new at the market. One of our farmers took a chance and planted very early squash and we had the first young squash at market on Tuesday - about a month earlier than normal. It was so early that I thought it best to make sure it met our producer-only requirement and asked board president Tim Green to make an inspection for me. He reported back to me just now that not only was everything in order, but that the farm and all its plantings looked very good, including the squash.

Of course, it’s always good news to know our farmers are following the market rules (especially since breaking the producer-only rule results in permanent banning from the market), but what makes his report especially satisfying is that the particular farmer Tim inspected has been part of our training program for the last five years. Five years ago Tim would have found a farm with many poor agricultural practices resulting in low production and poor quality. Not so now. The training has paid off in a well-run farm. How perfect that Tim, who has served as our main mentor for new farmers, was the one to make the inspection and find such good results.

We have two special activities at the market today. Tammy Roberts with University of Missouri Extension will do food preservation demonstrations at 11:30 and 12:30 showing how to make strawberry jam for freezing and how to use a canner.

Sarah Becker with Lincoln University Extension will have her garden/farm advice table to help our farmers and customers solve pest/disease or other plant problems. With so much rain this spring, plants may have blight or fungus issues or a myriad of other problems. Bring a photo or a sample in a sealed clear bag.

Lunch today is Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, peas, peanut butter cookies and drink for $6. A luncheon salad (so our vegetarians and those Americorp kids can join us for lunch) is $4. Jack and Lee Ann Sours play from 11 to 1.

Tomorrow we welcome back two favorite groups. Christians’ Haven will serve breakfast from 9 to 11. Profits will go to support their group homes in the Philippines for street children. The Southwest Missouri Suzuki Strings will perform from 9:30 to 11:30. We were especially pleased they could come as scheduled. Several of the children lost not only their violins, but their homes in the tornado. Director Christy Paxton has worked to replace those violins and felt it was important for the children to be together and to do what they love. We’ll be applauding loudly tomorrow, I’m sure.

Next Tuesday, Cooking for a Cause is run by the Webb City Police Department Explorers Club – and once again we see people going the extra mile. Sponsor and WCPD officer Jeremiah Woolverton has been working in Joplin since the tornado but he’ll still organize and run the effort at the market. This is another group we love working with. The young people in the club, who have aspirations of being police officers, make a great team. They are highly skilled when it comes to service, politeness and ability to follow directions. I’d recommend them to any employer, including the police.

Rob Pommert will perform from 11 to 1 on Tuesday.

Next Tuesday is also the second of a series of classes the market is sponsoring on food preservation. The classes cost $15 each and run from 6 to 8 pm at Central United Methodist Church in Webb City. Reservations are required by the Friday before the Tuesday class - call 417-358-2158. Next week the topic is jams and jellies with pickling, salsa, freezing and drying to follow. If we have enough interest, we'll add an afternoon class.