Thursday, June 14, 2012

Webb City Sentinel column - 6/15/12

I just have one question for you – is your carrot planted? You may have noticed large plastic “carrots” at the information table. The carrots can be used beside your driveway to mark the entrance or just “planted” in a flowerbed or with a potted plant. We hope to see them popping up in yards all over the area as another way of saying “We love our market”. And, what a deal, they’re only $2 each. They’d also make a fun gift, especially with a $5 market token.

The information table sells $5 tokens good with any market vendor. They’re treated just like five dollar bills and at the end of market, we give the vendor $5 for each one. Customers can buy them with checks, credit or debit cards. We’ve even had folks buy them with cash when they buying them for gifts. We also sell $1 tokens for our food stamp customers. The rules are a little different for food stamps. The vendor can’t give change but the customer can combine the token with change to come up with the exact amount. They are good for any food except hot food and food eaten right at the market. They can also be used to buy edible plants, like culinary herbs, and plants that produce food like tomato and pepper plants (Frederickson Farms has all of those). Our market was the first in the state to accept food stamps and plastic money market-wide. We’ve been doing it about five years now and have seen use grown hugely. It allows our low income neighbors with food stamps to take advantage of the many cost-savings available when a crop is in abundance (for example – squash and zucchini are usually a great buy) plus increase their consumption of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. It allows our other customers who either carry little cash or forgot to bring enough to buy what they need. And it allows our farmers to sell more, which this year will be especially important because there is a lot to sell.

Most the crops have been coming in about two weeks early and very abundantly this year due to the mild spring. Peaches arrived last week and next Friday, Pate’s Orchard is planning to bring two truck-loads of peaches. They’re bringing a truck and a carload today. If you’re in the market for a lot of peaches, like a peck which costs $16 or a 1/2 bushel, $26, call the orchard the day before market and place an order - 417 276-3297. Otherwise, the peach line moves quickly and is usually short within 20 minutes of opening.

Yes, it’s that time of year when we have lines – lines for peaches, lines for the fruit at Agee’s Garden, lines for Black Forest House (we always open market with lines at Black Forest House regardless of the season), lines for sweet corn. Sometimes I wonder how folks know which line they’re in as they seem to converge on each other. Luckily the lines move quickly and supplies this year are so abundant that hopefully customers won’t have to choose between securing one special crop over another. In fact, the fields and orchards are just bursting with produce this year. You’ll probably hear me say this way too often – but after last year’s abysmal weather we deserved a good year and so far we are getting the best year ever.

And did you catch that mention of sweet corn lines? Yes, the sweet corn has arrived. We’re expecting five farms today with sweet corn and at least three tomorrow. And the field tomatoes are not far behind. There should be some today and tomorrow. And, don't forget the flowers - I got these Tuesday (that would be two days ago) from Abby Vang and blooms are still opening.

Today Granny Shaffer’s at the Market serves chicken enchilada, beans and rice, dessert and drink for $6. They’ll also have chef salads. Gospel Strings performs.

Tomorrow Cooking for a Cause is served by volunteers from the Carl Junction chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. They’ll serve breakfast starting at 9. The Green Earth Band performs. Eden, on the south end of the pavilion, is serving a grilled Madewell Meat smoky ham and Swiss panini on Black Forest French bread with chips and a homemade chocolate chip cookie for eat-in or take-out - $6.

Our MSSU intern, Lindsey Rollins, demonstrates Summer Squash and White Bean Sauté in the center of the pavilion tomorrow. Filled with zucchini, summer squash, and fresh tomatoes, this quick, easy, and very good-for-you recipe can also incorporate eggplant, peppers and corn, all of which are in season right now. Stop by the demonstration table to give it a try and pick up information on eating healthier.
At every market you can pick up coupons, food preservation mix samples and recipes and enter a drawing thanks to our grant from Jarden, makers of Ball jars.

On Tuesday, William Adkins performs easy listening classics. Granny Shaffer’s at the Market grills up hot dogs and hamburgers and also serves chicken salad sandwiches and chef salads. And we’ll have a ton of produce. Easy time to shop? Tuesday at 11:30ish. Great selection, small crowds. See you at the market – and don’t forget to pick up your carrots – the real ones and the fun ones.