Thursday, June 19, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column - 6-20-14

Oh my, as my mother would say “I’ve been as busy as a cranberry merchant!”  One of the benefits of writing this column is that it makes me do my homework. I’ve always wondered why cranberry merchants were so busy but never enough to actually research it until now. I googled it and Mother left off the ending (or I never paid attention to it) “in November”. Aha!  Now that makes sense. And that’s how busy I’ve been. And I’m not alone, the farmers have been even busier than me which is very evident when you visit the market. Have you ever seen such an abundance of produce?  Tables piled over two feet high with beets, carrots, turnips, bok choy, onions, cabbage. Tomatoes and blueberry boxes spreading across the table tops. And always loads more produce in boxes and crates behind the tables. Greg Braker already has so many tomatoes that he’s selling 20 lb boxes for canning.

And speaking of canning, we’re loaded with green beans! It is definitely time to enjoy those green beans and new potatoes and can your green beans for the winter. We’ve even got the canner for you. As part of our grant from Ball Jar, we’ll be giving away a full sized canning kit once a month in June, July and August. So get your name in, we’re drawing next week for the June winners. The drawing jar is on the Ball Jar table near the information table. Ball Jar would love to have your email address on that drawing slip so they can send you coupons and offers, but you can just put down your phone number if you want. We don’t require an email address for you to enter the drawing.

Carolyn Smith is one of our Market Ladies again this year and she has taken on the Ball Jar challenge with zest. We have lots of products from them that we’re using for demonstrations and drawings. Carolyn’s been experimenting with them. So far she’s tried the infuser – that’s a clear plastic device that screws on to the jar (or onto the Ball jar that has a handle turning it into a mug). You fill the infuser with mint or produce to flavor the water. There’s a spout on the top that you can drink through. Last Tuesday Carolyn shared three infused drinks with our customers – tea flavored with apple mint and honey, water infused with cucumber, lemon, lemon balm, rosemary and lemon basil and a drink infused with blueberries, lemon, spearmint and stevia. The tea was my favorite. Another Ball product she’s been experimenting with is the Herb Keeper. So far she’s been impressed with the staying power of the cut herbs she’s held in the fridge using the keeper.

Look for Carolyn most Tuesdays demonstrating various ways to enjoy and preserve the harvest.

Speaking of Tuesdays, our new hours are helping. In fact one of our regular customers stopped me right after opening and said “you’ve done it again. You’ve created a monster on Tuesdays now.”  And it was crowded when we first opened but quickly cleared out. So much so that at closing only two of our farmers had sold out. Another two had sparse looking tables, but nine farmers still had tables loaded with produce. This is not because they hadn’t sold produce, they had. We just have a lot of produce on Tuesdays, just as much if not more than what we have on Saturdays. So if you’re running late and can’t get to the Tuesday market at opening, don’t despair, we’ll probably have plenty to choose from right up until we close at 6 o’clock. We can’t declare the Tuesday market a success until we almost double the sales and we’re a long way off from that.

Today the market is open from 11 to 2. It is Jim Agee’s first day selling this year. In addition to vegetables, he’ll have raspberries, rhubarb, infused vinegars and fruit wood for smoking meat. Mary Ann Pennington with Extension will demonstrate and sample chicken wraps made with Sunny Lane Farms pastured poultry. If you haven’t given the farm’s all-natural products a try, this is your chance.  And we welcome smoothies back to the market today.  Lauren Deleurer, who several years ago grew and sold bean sprouts at the market, opens "It's a Blenderful Life" with lovely cool smoothies and specialty drinks a the market today.

The Plainsfolk will play Irish and other traditional music. Mike Wiggins tells me that Granny Shaffers at the market is serving “Webb City’s Best Spaghetti Dinner with homemade bread” which costs $5. They’ll also have chicken salad sandwiches, chips and drinks for sale.

Tomorrow, Tony Bergkoetter performs. Cooking for a Cause benefits the families with small children program of the Salvation Army. Volunteers from the Joplin Exchange Club will serve farm fresh eggs cooked to order, biscuits and gravy and sausage. While the music and food stops at 11, we’ll have plenty of good things to buy until noon when we close.

On Tuesday the market will be open from 4 to 6 pm. The Pommerts will play and Dogs on the Roll will serve variations of hot dogs, and Frito pie, pulled pork sandwiches, chips and drinks.

Blueberries are in season. Robertson Family Farm has u-pick. You can get directions, hours and prices from them at the market. You can also buy the berries picked, boxed and ready to eat at the market. I’m passing on the heat and enjoying the flavor.  See you at the market!