Thursday, July 11, 2013

Webb City Sentinel column - 7 - 12 - 13

My oh my, high season has arrived at the market.   The sweet corn is in!  Braker Farms called to say they expect to have over 100 dozen ears of corn today and tomorrow.   Xiong Farm is bringing in the first of the field tomatoes.   We even sent some tomatoes home on Tuesday which is a shame.   The blackberries are pouring in (& I’m not saying anything about a certain other fruit – the line is too long now!)

Try a Cucumber Feta Roll on Saturday!
Sweet corn, field tomatoes and the fruit that shall not be named are our biggest sellers at the market, but let’s not forget the less glamorous produce that is in abundance, like egg plant, onions, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, green beans, potatoes, purple hull beans and all our Asian specialties to name just a few.   The first of the okra is due in today from Fairhaven.   Endless Bounty has “June apples.”  I guess this year with everything late they’re July apples.   These small tasty apples are especially good for apple sauce and since they weren’t sprayed with chemicals are perfect for baby food.   Yang Farms has been bringing lots of raspberries and Green’s Greenhouse has a ton of blackberries.   Tomorrow is our last day to have Thompson Orchard with their hundreds of pounds of blueberries.   They have been really good.

In other words, it’s high season at the market – at last.

You may wonder how Xiong Farm beat everyone in having an abundance of field tomatoes.   Nhia (pronounced Ne-ah) has much more acreage planted than many of our other farmers and he is committed to being the best farmer he can be.   Nhia always attends every training session we provide.   He implements what he learns – installing irrigation, building a “cool room” for storing harvested crops, consulting with our market mentors and extension when he has questions.

After our winter production conference earlier this year, he built his own high tunnel.   He plans to build another next fall.

He and his family put in incredibly long hours on their farm and at markets.   He also sells on Saturdays at City Market in Kansas City which is why we rarely see him on Saturdays in Webb City.   
This April when we inspected his farm, my co-inspector Tim Green and I were astounded by what he had in the ground.    The cool weather crops like leafy greens and spring onions were mature and being sold at the market.   

The broccoli was not far behind.  He had started the plants in his greenhouse.   He built that after our first series of hoop house workshops three years ago.   The instructor had shown our farmers how to build using scrap materials along with purchased materials, so Nhia’s greenhouse has a certain organic feel, but it works well and the price was right.

He then moved the plants to the field, protecting them with row cover.
When we visited in April, he also had warm weather crops like tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and squash well on their way, all protected by row cover.   It was just enough protection to get them through that snowy weather in May.   

As a result, Nhia’s tables are loaded with field tomatoes a good week or two earlier than we’ll see from our other growers who will have a few this week but not the bin loads that Nhia has.

It won’t be long though until we’re flooded with tomatoes.   And we’ve already got enough cucumbers for folks to be seriously thinking about canning.   Pick up your free canning booklet and free pickling sample at the information table.   We also have coupons for discounts on canning supplies.

If you’ve driven by the Kids Community Garden lately, you know harvest is underway.   We had six children working Monday.   They all had some weeding time, some harvesting time and some time when we talked about using zucchini.   Naturally, zucchini is in abundance and in a variety of sizes.   We discussed how to use the big zucchini – bread, cake and relish and what works well with the smaller zucchini – sautéing, stir fry and baking.   The kids also took home peppers, both sweet and hot, cucumbers, and tomatoes.   One of our little gardeners brought salsa and chips that she and her aunt had made from the tomatoes and peppers she harvested the week before.   Tasty, but I was sure glad I’d brought drinking water for everyone!  The kids agreed to donate their midweek harvest which I take care of to the CP Center here in Webb City.   

Speaking of peppers, sweet and hot, Broken Wire is roasting peppers at the market on Fridays.   Roasting lends a smoky flavor to the peppers and intensifies the flavor.   Broken Wire is, to my knowledge, the only farm in Missouri roasting right at the market and, frankly, he gets way more business at his stand at a Springfield market, so let’s buy some roasted peppers.   We sure want him to stay with us!

The Granny Chicks are playing at the market today, so bring your dancing shoes.   Brad Douglas is doing a story on them to air tonight on KSN.   If you missed Brad’s heartwarming story last week on our bell ringer, Nicky Otts, you can watch it on-line.   There’s a link to it on the market facebook page where you’ll also find a listing of all vendors posted for each market.

Granny Shaffers at the Market is serving chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes, chicken salad sandwiches and a fresh fruit plates today.

Nutrition specialists from Extension are demonstrating and sampling stir fried vegetables with chicken.
Tomorrow’s breakfast benefits Lafayette House, our regional domestic violence center.   This worthy cause will receive all the profits from breakfast which is served until 11.   Hawthorne will play traditional music, including music from the Civil War era.   Market Lady Carolyn Smith will demonstrate and sample Cucumber Feta Rolls.   (Terrell Creek Farm sells feta and other goat cheese on Fridays.)

And, of course, we’ll be open next Tuesday with loads of produce, music and a meal.

See you at the market!