Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Webb City Sentinel market column - 7-5-13

Before the market opens I cruise the pavilion, tidying up where litter may have dropped or a plastic shopping bag has escaped, checking to be sure pricing cards are in place, making sure there are no hazards. Lately I’ve taken to obsessively swatting flies. Resa Amos says that I have declared the market a “No Fly” zone. Would that I could! 

Tuesday I was in front of Der Lor’s booth admiring her arrangement. She had set up two tables in front and sided them with a table at each end forming a “U”. It gave her about 60 square feet of display space and every square inch was loaded with produce. Now Der is never one to complain,  but she did say “I’m out of room”. She had a row of each product – boxes of white potatoes, boxes of red potatoes, cucumbers, pickles, squash, zucchini, green beans with boxes of yellow beans stacked on top of the green beans towards the back, piles of boc choy towards the very back. But she had indeed run out of room and she still had crates of several kinds of eggplant and crates of bulbing onions that hadn’t made it to the tables.

I looked carefully but saw absolutely no way that she could make room for more produce on her tables.

Then the bell rang. Der’s table was blocked from her customers by the line of folks waiting to buy high-tunnel tomatoes from her neighbor to the south and yet when I went by her booth an hour later her tables were virtually empty. The crates behind the table were completely empty. Her keen-eyed customers had spotted the eggplants and onions. Her nephew who had been helping his father at the booth just north of her had moved to Der’s tables to sell for her while she restocked. By the end of market at 2 o’clock, Der had only enough unsold produce to cover about one-third of one table. She had a good day.

As a market volunteer and friend of our farmers, I am always pleased to see the tons of produce our farmers work so hard to plant, tend and harvest move from their tables to the customers’ bags. We supply only a small fraction of the food consumed in our area, but compared to what was being supplied locally when the market first opened in 2000 it is a significant amount. Almost all our farmers strive to increase their production each year. Sometimes the weather cooperates, sometimes it doesn’t. This spring it did not.

Joe Palmer of Fair Haven Gardens told me Tuesday that he’s about 10 days away from harvesting sweet corn. Normally, we’d be awash in sweet corn this week but the late snows put the kibosh on that. Joe lost his first two plantings to the snows. Plus the fields were swamps for extended periods of time this spring. In a good year, Joe plants corn every ten days until he has sown ten plantings. He managed this year to do all ten plantings, but lost the first two and has much larger planting gaps than normal between the others. Still, if we don’t have a drought this year, Fair Haven should bring us corn from mid-July through fall this year. 

Since I’m giving crop reports, let me share that Tim Green told me that he picked the first of his field tomatoes this week. By next week he should have a good supply. Other farms are lagging behind, but we should within the next couple of weeks see those dreaded tomato lines diminish.

The farmers tell me that their melons are doing very well, but they’re still two or three weeks away. As you guessed from Der’s story, the eggplant is coming in, as well as lots of other kinds of produce. 

The market today is open from 11 to 2 and features lunch by Granny Shaffers at the Market and music by the Sours. The Extension horticulturists are to be here dispensing garden and farming advice. Brad Douglas of KSN plans to film a story on our Friday/Tuesday bell ringer, Nicky Otts. We can always depend on Nicky to arrive at about 10:55 ready to bounce through the pavilion, gently ringing the bell. It should be a fun story to share with the community.

Tomorrow we’ll be open from 9 to noon and the breakfast benefits Crosslines, our regional food and clothing pantry. And we’ve have a donation jar at the information table all week for gifts to Crosslines. As we celebrate the birth of our country, we think it’s only right to celebrate one of the many great things about our country – the generosity of its citizens. So raid that change tray – or write a check – and support Crosslines’ efforts to feed our neighbors in need this week.

Drew Pommert will play tomorrow and Market Lady Susan Pittman will demonstrate and sample Crisp Cucumber Salsa. Doesn’t that sound tasty and refreshing?

Tuesday we’ll be open from 11 to 2. It will probably be a VERY quiet day after the excitement of this week. If you can, please join us and bring a carload because I have a feeling we’ll be kind of lonely. I sure don’t want those tons of produce being carted back to the farm to compost piles.  

The Pommerts will play and Granny Shaffers at the Market will serve lunch and I expect the lines will be fairly short – especially when compared to this week! See you at the market.