Friday, October 3, 2014

WC Sentinel market column - 10-3-14 - Don't forget - We're not open on Fridays!

I was doing the press release for the market this week and, of course, this time of year I’m touting our pumpkins and mums, our decorative squash and Indian corn. And as an aside I included “we also have fresh local produce”. In reading it over I thought, “I wonder if the media really understands that we have LOTS of produce”. So I started listing some of the things I saw at the Tuesday market – tomatoes, onions, eggplant, cucumbers, green beans, chard, spinach, lettuce, butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash, peppers – hot and sweet, potatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, garlic, sweet potatoes, cabbage, cantaloupe, broccoli… I stopped there, but there’s more, like kohlrabi, green onions, ginger, more kinds of squash, boc choy and other Asian specialty crops. In other words, as the season changes, some of the crops change but we still have a tremendous amount of produce coming in from our farms. So plan to eat fresh this week – and don’t forget Tuesdays from 4 to 6. Tuesday is a smaller market in terms of some of our specialty vendors – Redings Mill Bread Co., Sunny Lane with beef, chicken and lamb and Cottage Small Coffee Roasters only come on Saturdays - but most of our produce farmers come both days so you can load up two days a week and eat five to six daily servings of super fresh veggies.

Tomorrow at the market Rob Pommert plays.

Cooking for a Cause tomorrow benefits a project near and dear to my heart – CROPwalk. It’s an annual hunger walk (happening October 12) sponsored locally by Catholics, Presbyterians, United Methodists, Missionary Baptists, Lutherans, Macauley High School and Christians (Disciples). Everyone is welcome to walk, churches, businesses, other faiths, schools, individuals. The money raised is split between local organizations that feed those in need – Crosslines, Salvation Army, Lafayette House and Childrens Haven. The remaining funds go around the world to help refugees and fight hunger in areas of chronic poverty. What better way to fight hunger than enjoy a benefit breakfast?  Breakfast is pancakes, grilled ham and eggs cooked to order and served till 11.
Speaking of eggs, we should finally have a good supply of eggs on Saturday. Plan to pick some up, you won’t regret it. Eggs from happy hens that taste great.

Tuesday we welcome Center Creek Bluegrass back to the market stage. We’ll be open from 4 to 6 pm.

It’s been a pretty exciting week for us market folks. We learned we have received two grants. One will build a commercial kitchen at the market. It’s a grant from the US Department of Agriculture and we are so thankful that the city is serving as our administrator on the project. We’ve done lots of state grants, but federal grants have more t’s to cross and the city is very experienced in such matters. The primary purpose of the kitchen is to allow our farmers to process their surplus produce for later sale. Currently if they have more sweet corn than they can sell, they can take it home and freeze it, but they can’t sell home-frozen corn to the public. Once the kitchen is in place, they can freeze and store it in the market kitchen and sell it at the fall and winter market. More income for the farmers, more sweet corn for the consumers! 

The market will also use the kitchen for its meal production and for cooking demonstrations and preparing samples. Hopefully we’ll be able to do training there with Extension – anyone interested in a canning class?  The kitchen will be available for rent by groups using the park such as festivals, reunions or fundraisers. It will also be rented to start-up businesses needing an inspected kitchen for production.

The second grant ties in well with the first because it includes a Better Processing School which will allow farmers to be licensed to can pickles, salsa, relishes and other acidified products. This is a two-day school that takes place every year in Columbia. For the first time, it’s coming to southwest Missouri, to little ol’ Webb City. That will save gas and the expense of a hotel, real cost savers for our local farmers. It will also be open to non-market folks who want to be licensed to can. 

Another component of the second grant is a continuation of our Winter Production Conference. We first held the conference last year. We hoped for 75 attendees. We cut it off at 150! We received a small grant to do it again this year (with different topics and presenters) on November 10 and 11 and now we have funding to do the conference in 2015 and 2016.

If you’d like information on the conference coming up in November, stop by the information table for a flyer or go to 

Yes, it’s been a pretty exciting week for us market folks. So let’s celebrate – come by the information table and give us a high five and then buy some fresh veggies!