Just when I think there’s nothing left to share about the market, I find that I am wrong. (Don’t tell my husband Phil. He thinks I’m perfect.) There’s actually quite a bit of market news this week.
Folks have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the heirloom tomatoes. I knew the harvest had begun, but it was not until I went on farm inspections Wednesday that I realized that the harvest is in full swing. Fairhaven Berry and Produce in Harwood planted six varieties of heirloom tomatoes this year: Cherokee Purple, Brandywine Pink, Yellow Ruffle, Old German, ponderosa and Goliath. Their plants were just loaded. You’ll also find heirlooms at several other growers like Fredrickson Farms, Nature Valley Farm and Greens Greenhouse. (photos taken at Fairhaven)
Heirloom vegetables are typically open pollinated plants that have been cultivated since before 1951 (If we were plants, Bob Foos and I would be heirlooms. And that is my birthday present to you, Foos.) They have been passed down through generations, shared among seed savers and propagated by specialty seed companies. They have fascinating names, odd shapes and sizes, often fantastic colors and distinctive flavors. They’re not for everyone but many consider them the best tasting tomatoes around.
Heirloom tomatoes can also be a challenge to grow for market. They split easily, are often ugly, and have a short season. I expect that’s the very reason that you’ll only find the heirlooms at the market or in a home garden. They’re not uniform enough, pretty enough, and sturdy enough for the supermarket.
But they sure have a taste that can’t be beat.
The season is too short, they’ll play out in a month or so. Now’s the time to give them a try and, if you like them, preserve some for the winter.
More news – Granny Shaffers is debuting a market-fresh entrée today for lunch: Thai Chicken Lettuce wrap with a wedge of melon for $3. That lettuce is from 417 Produce, our year-round lettuce grower. They’ll also serve their always-popular chicken salad sandwich.
Some more news – Oakwood Farms has bought a pepper roaster. They’ll have it at the market on Tuesdays and Fridays.
And the last bit of news is that the market has received funding again this year from the Missouri Arts Council for its music program and for Arts in the Park. The first grant, for $1,410, will underwrite our regular music at every market. The second grant allows us to bring back WildHeart to perform at the market on Saturday, September 13, and at Madge T. James Kindergarten on Friday, September 12. WildHeart is a duo from central Missouri who sing, dance, educate and engage children in the environment. Here’s a bit from the liner notes of their latest cd: “a wild variety of tunes including jazz, pop, swing, bluegrass and rap - chock full of facts and fun about the natural world. Wiggle with the Armadillo Alphabet, dance like an insect to the Buzzy Wuzzy Buggy Boogie, and make your Mom squirm with Scit, Scat, Diddily Doo! Learn the scoop on frogs and their cousins with Amphibian Blues. Sit back in your imagination and float an Ozark stream taking in the melodic memory of Jan's Grandfather's canoe in her Irish tune, Legacy. Experience the amazing adventure of one tiny Monarch butterfly in the ballad, Journey Maker.”
Oh, yes, we’re going to have a good time. Mark your calendar and bring your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews or the neighbor’s kids.
What else is on tap for the immediate future? Our Extension experts will be at the market today, just south of the information table, to answer all your gardening questions. Are your tomatoes splitting, are bugs taking over, are leaves yellowing? Bring a sample if you can and they’ll try to identify the problem and propose solutions. Patrick Byers with the University of Missouri and Randy Garrett with Lincoln University can help you with veggie, fruit and ornamental plants. They’re at the market every first Friday of the month during the regular season.
Gospel Strings is playing today. Cottage Small Coffee is back after a two-week absence with roasted coffee beans from Guatemala and Ethiopia. M & M Bistro will have tabbouleh and hummus for take-out, along with their baklava today.
Tomorrow Cooking for a Cause benefits the American Cancer Society. Volunteers from the Carl Junction chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star will serve biscuits and gravy, sausages and farm fresh eggs from 9 to 11.
Marshall Mitchell, our cowboy crooner, will sing.
M & M Bistro adds pita wraps to their menu on Saturdays.
Next Tuesday we’ll celebrate National Farmers Market Week. We’ll have a bunch of giveaways and drawings, including one for $50 worth of market tokens. Some of the fun is not finalized yet, so, my advice, come to the market Tuesday between 4 and 6 to see what’s going on!
See you at the market.