Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Webb City Sentinel Column - 8/24/12

I have to admit that right this minute, as I sit on a ship on the Danube listening to a concert of arias, the farmers market could seem remote. But though a long way away, the market’s people and products are not really far from my mind. And, too, food is always of interest to me.

My husband Phil who ramrods the Saturday breakfast emails me that the CP Center volunteers did a fabulous job preparing and serving breakfast last week and that they were wonderfully supported by the community. I hope for the same results tomorrow when the high school band boosters do breakfast. Now that school is back in session, we really need our customers and friends to come out on Saturdays. This becomes even more important as the September festivals approach. No matter what your plans, I bet you can fit in breakfast at the market. Enjoy some lovely music, fresh local produce, new – or old - friends and have a great start to the weekend and create some wonderful memories for your children or grandchildren – and yourself.

A friend told me last month that his granddaughter made her annual visit recently and spotted his cloth shopping bag. Are we going to the market? He had used the bag when he took her to the market last summer. Who says kids don’t enjoy simple pleasures?
Actually we all enjoy such pleasures, regardless of age. I was surprised recently when volunteer Rick Ford shared with me some photos he’d taken at a Saturday market. One showed a view of a crowd of our Saturday shoppers. There were a few seniors like me, as well as teens and children, but most were young and mid-aged adults. When we opened 13 years ago, 80 percent of our customers were older than me. As I’ve aged, the customers have become younger! Now we run the gamut which is wonderful because not only does variety add spice to the market, but it also bodes well for our future. Now we just need to acquire more young farmers.

Sad to say, we are losing one of our younger farmers – Hector Troyer who, with his family, is moving to the Stockton area to run a home for troubled teens. This will be his last season with us for at least two years. He and Lois will be wonderful mentors for the teens but we are sure going to miss them.

Should you know of anyone interested in learning to farm, young or old, stop by the information table. We can hook them up with training or possibly even an internship opportunity.

Granny Shaffer’s at the Market is serving beef and noodles today with potatoes and gravy, drink and dessert for $6. They’ll also have chef salad. Gospel Strings performs.

Tomorrow as I said earlier the band boosters serve breakfast. Red Bridge plays. Trish Reed will demonstrate how to pickle okra.

Tuesday, Granny Shaffer’s will serve hot dogs, hamburgers, chef salad and chicken salad sandwiches. Erik Brown and the Flatlanders perform. Carolyn Smith demonstrates a grain salad chock full of veggies - Southwestern Quinoa Salad.

Here’s a bit of serendipity. My traveling companion Joan Letsinger and I arrived after dark last week into our hotel in Prague. It faced a long narrow central park. Imagine my delight when the next morning we stepped out of the building to find a small open air market right at our front door. A couple of produce stands, a couple of bakers, others selling wine, olives and olive oils, a few crafts. The produce at European markets looks perfect and is beautifully displayed, but you can tell by the variety that it is not all coming from one farm and it’s pretty obvious that the seller hasn’t grown any of it. They just buy it, display it and sell it. They are not producer-only markets like we often have in the US. The big give-away is the smell or rather the lack of smell. At our market, smells fill the pavilion – peaches and melons, especially, but also the herbs and the roasting peppers. So soak up the market this weekend and next Tuesday with all your senses – and enjoy being in Webb City where your food comes straight from the hands that grew it.