Thursday, July 3, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column - July 3, 2014

Let's not be formal - call me Blossom.

Big news first – We ARE open on Friday, July 4th, from 11 to 2 and on Saturday, July 5th, from 9 to noon and we’ll be loaded with fresh-from-the-farm sweet corn. The field tomatoes are coming in and the growers’ tables are loaded with all the good things of summer.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled column -

I just finished another full day of farm visits. My traveling companions were Randy Garrett and David Middleton with Lincoln University Cooperative Extension and Patrick Byers with University of Missouri Extension. We visited two novice growers, four experienced growers and a dairy. I’m there to document production and look for food safety issues. Extension is there to advise me in case I have a question, which I often do have, and to help the growers. At one place, they advised the grower to stop watering his tomatoes overhead to reduce the spread of early blight. The grower is new at it and thought the plants would benefit from a refreshing shower. That would be a no. At two other farms there were questions about harvesting early varieties of apples. Another farmer needed help with training and pruning blackberries. Everywhere we had three sets of eyes alert for pests and disease.

We are so fortunate to have professionals joining the farm inspections. Our farmers are better for it and the produce you buy at the market is better because of it.

If you have gardening questions, you can catch up with Patrick at the market tomorrow (Friday). He’ll have a table near the market information table. As a horticulturist, Patrick is knowledgeable about both decorative and food plants so come take advantage of his visit to the market.
David Middleton of Lincoln U walks with a grower's grandson.  We love our farm visits!

Now you may ask – what kind of state employee works on the Fourth of July?  Well, one like Patrick. He has family plans in Kansas for the evening and figured he might as well stick to his first Friday schedule at our market. 

On Friday, we are expecting Marlee’s Creamery with raw milk, several blueberry growers, and most of our other growers. However, you’ll have to come on Saturday for honey. The Amos’ are taking Friday off, as is Granny Shaffer’s at the Market. Dogs on the Roll is filling in for lunch with hot dogs, chili dogs, chili cheese dogs, pulled pork and Frito pie. On the market stage is JR Sampson and Friends. One of the “friends” is Corky Dow of Carthage who has graced our stage many times. With Corky coming, I’m thinking bluegrass.
We’re open from 11 to 2 as usual on Friday, but there’s nothing usual about it!  Redings Mill (aka Jamey Smith formerly known as Mohaska Farmhouse) returns to the market Friday. We are thrilled to have him back with his wonderful artisan breads. Jamey plans to be at all the markets from now on, as does Hillside Farms, known for their elephant garlic. They began harvesting garlic last week and are expecting such a bumper crop that they hope we’ll all start thinking “I’m hungry, where’s the garlic?"

We have a new grower at the market, Owen Detweiler whose farm is northwest of Lamar. He hopes to be our “melon man” and on our visit today I could see why. He’s growing a lot of melons, they look great and he clearly loves growing them. He had 60 cantaloupes at the market Tuesday and he says the watermelon and musk melons aren’t far behind. If he has enough to justify the drive (since he’s Amish he has to hire a driver) he’ll be at the market Saturday. And he’s certain to be here on Tuesday. Owen specializes in melons but he also grows sweet corn, tomatoes and a variety of other crops. I’m looking forward to his “lunchbox peppers” which are small sweet peppers that come in a variety of colors. I think they’ll be a big hit at the market when they’re ready for harvest in a week or two.

Brown Moss is playing Saturday and Cooking for a Cause benefits Crosslines, our regional food pantry. This is normally our biggest breakfast benefit of the year and we will be ready for a crowd. I hope you’ll spread the word and come out for cooked-to-order farm-fresh eggs, biscuits and gravy, and sausages. Your breakfast will satisfy your hunger while your purchase will curb the hunger of your neighbors in need. Win – win!

Another reason to visit the market on Saturday is the cooking demonstration. Frank Reiter, a foodie of the first order (google Frank about Food to find his blog and Facebook page), will demonstrate and give samples of blueberry lamb kebabs with mint cucumber sauce.

Tuesday we’re open from 4 to 6 and Owen Detweiler should be there with melons. Market Lady Carolyn Smith will have another great cooking demo for us – she did herb-marinated vegetables last week using our FoodSaver marinator. Who knew such a product existed. Using vacuum pressure to infuse the meat or vegetable, it only takes 10 minutes to marinate instead of hours.
It’s that time of year when every market seems better than the last. It is High Season!