Thursday, December 17, 2015

Webb City Sentinel column - 12/18/15

So, winter is our slow time, right?  Apparently not!
The Saturday markets have been full, festive and productive and this Saturday is no exceptionSanta will be here – after all, his sister, Pat Johnson, lives in Webb City, is a big market fan and also Santa’s seamstressHis outfit (it’s not a costume he is very quick to point out!) is beautifulAnd his beard is a pleasure to behold too, as is the twinkle in his eyeSanta has a soft spot for animals so he’s hoping for lots of kids and lots of pets, tooAsk him about the boa constrictor he once posed with
Mrs. Claus will be on hand as well, and so will our scarecrows Suzy and SuzetteSuzette is so excited about Christmas that she’s all ready for Christmas Eve in her holiday pjs.  (That's my mom, Frances Nichols, with Suzette and Suzy.)
Harmony Hill Farm will serve chicken noodle soup and garlic bread for $3.50You can eat in or take outRed Bridge Trio will perform their Christmas show so you may want to eat in (AND take out).  Market Lady Jordan Nichols demonstrates and gives samples of turkey black bean chili.  The regular market and the Christkindlmarket will be packed with good things you won’t want to miss.
The Christmas Eve Market is on ThursdayWe’ll be open from 11 to 1 in the pavilionThat’s our last ChristkindlmarketBe sure to place your baked goods orders so you get just what you wantHarmony Hill will serve pizza casserole and a side salad for $3.50 for lunch. Rob Pommert will play.
We’ll be closed on Saturday, December 26, and reopen for the new year on January 2.
The market’s Winter Production Education Site is nearly set upThe seed starting structure and the two high tunnels are upWe’re just waiting for a calm day to pull the plastic on the tunnelsIt’s taken five full days of effort by our farmers and Extension but already we’re seeing lots of interest by our farmers in what they are learning.
The kitchen has been going full tilt with Hazel’s Bakery testing it for usWith dozens and dozens of cookies ordered for the holidays, the bakery is giving it a thorough trial
We had our first opportunity to partner with another organization in using the kitchenThe Carterville food pantry had an incredible gift of frozen chicken sandwiches – 8 pallets worthTheir on-site freezer wasn’t nearly big enough to handle it all, so the truck was redirected to the market kitchenWe fired up (or froze up) one of our 8’ x 20’ walk in freezersIt was to temp in about an hour and ready to accept the load. And it is almost completely loaded. The pantry will reimburse us for the power used and they’ll have thousands of meals to share with those in need.
Who would have guessed all this lay in the market’s future?  The future is bright and exciting – just like the market will be tomorrowCome revel in it!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Webb City Sentinel market column - 12/11/15

I have to admit it. I’m a little tired and sore. I just spent most of the day, in glorious weather, helping put up two high tunnels at the market’s Winter Production Education Site. We got the seed starting structure up last week. Yesterday and today we started the two 30’ x 96’ high tunnels (below). We expect to finish them next Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so if you’d like to help, stop by the information table tomorrow for times and directions.

I would say at this point “just kidding” but I’m not. This is an education center so all are welcome to come learn. Unskilled as I am, I expect to be fully competent in high tunnel installation by the end of the week, and I know the 10 farmers I’ve been working with will be too. We’re learning from our Extension educators and the site mentor, Hector Troyer. As a bonus, Randy Garrett, Lincoln University’s local livestock expert, taught us how to deworm a cow and give a shot to a sick calf. Another bonus was that my Australian grandchildren called on Facetime and I was able to give them a tour of the high tunnels, and cows and chickens. It gave me major street cred, especially the cows. Madeleine, the four year old, in return sang a new song she had learned for a school performance – Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star – in Italian. In her previous performance she learned to recite from memory a long section of Shakespeare (All the world’s a stage…). Well, I, my dear, can deworm a cow!

But enough about me. The market tomorrow is well worth a visit. Santa will be at the market between 9 and noon and is hoping for lots of kids to sit on his knee. It’s free, but bring your own camera.
Harmony Hill is serving chili with cornbread for only $3.50 a serving. You can enjoy it in the heated pavilion or take it home. We have a quartet from MSSU’s music department caroling tomorrow.
Minerva Candy Company returns with handmade candy canes in a variety of flavors – peppermint, cinnamon, wintergreen and clove. Wonderful Things makes their first appearance of the season with their carved walking sticks, beaded pouches and other fanciful things. The Christkindlmarket will be full of handcrafted goods.

Market Lady Carolyn Smith is serving pecans seasoned with Cook’s Berry Junction Farm’s smoked salts. She’ll also have gift packaging ideas for giving the pecans to friends. And we should have plenty of pecans. Misty Morning Farm has cracked pecans in several sized bags. Fairhaven and Luman Farms have picked out pecans. It may be the best market of the year for pecans.

We should have nine farms tomorrow with lots of fresh produce, plus baked goods, jams and jellies (this may be Fairhaven’s last time at the market this year, so tomorrow is the day to shop for jams and jellies), eggs, freshly roasted coffee beans, frozen blueberries and blueberry syrup, raw food bars, goat meat, beef, pork, pheasant and chicken, eggs, raw food bars, freshly roasted coffee beans, honey, smoked flavored salts and frozen tamales. 

Wait a minute – did I say farms with local produce?  Yes, I did. You will see tables loaded tomorrow with lettuce, kale, microgreens, turnips, radishes, green onions, tomatoes, cabbage, kohlrabi, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, cut herbs, peppers – hot and sweet. Oh, yes, there will be fresh local produce. And with the all training from our Winter Production Education Site, plus our Midwest Winter Production Conference in January, we expect to have more farmers farming more successfully next winter which means more produce for us. Life is good all year long here in Webb City!

Next Saturday will have its charms as well. Our Santa next week loves kids, but he especially loves animals. His favorite story is when he posed with a very large boa constrictor!  Please don’t bring snakes to the market next week, but your more traditional pets would be very welcome.

You’ll want to eat at the market again, when Mabel at Harmony Hill brings chicken and noodles with garlic bread and the Mayfields from Ozark put on their Christmas show. That will be our last Saturday market until January 2, 2016 – we’ll be closed on December 26, but don’t forget the Christmas Eve Market from 11 to 1 on Thursday, December 24th.

I never would have guessed ten years ago that December would be one of my favorite months at the market. How about you?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Webb City Sentinel column - 11/25/15

True to our word, our harvest decorations – scarecrows, straw bales, pumpkins and gourds – are in place for today’s Holiday Market because the holiday we’re celebrating is Thanksgiving!  What better time to load the table with food harvested or made by our neighbors?

This Saturday we’re switching gears, and holidays. The Christkindlmarket in the south part of the pavilion will be decked out for Christmas – garlands, lights, ornaments, tinsel – and Ms. Claus is visiting. Bring your camera for a photo with Ms. Claus. I guarantee you’ll not see a prettier smile or merrier eyes than those of our delightful Christmas lady. (She's at right.  photos below show just a peek of what we're looking forward to on Saturday)

The Pommerts will launch into their holiday music on Saturday so the market will look and sound festive. And thanks to our sidewalls and heaters you’ll be comfortable as well.

I was a bit worried about last Saturday’s weather. With a high of less than 40 and strong winds, I thought we were in for a cold morning, but not so. It was coat cool inside the pavilion. In fact, I shed my coat before the market even started and said a word of thanks to that friend of Webb City, the late Chuck Surface. When Chuck was in charge of the city’s economic development he scouted out a grant to pay for the market’s sidewalls. Parks director Tom Reeder took the project over after Chuck’s death. Tom designed and commissioned the sidewalls which have worked beautifully and he did it so economically that he had enough money left over to buy the two portable heaters. Frugal and effective - two of my favorite adjectives. The sidewalls and heat have made all the difference in the market’s ability to expand its winter activities. In a month or so, we’ll have even better climate control. The market received funding to double the size of the heaters and the park is installing flexible ducting in the ceiling which will push the heat throughout the length of the pavilion. Seems like we always have something going on to improve the market.
For example, next week we begin our Winter Production Education Center activities. On December 5, we build the seed starting structure at the center located on the Yang Farm just south of Rocky Comfort. Then on December 9, 10, 17, 18 and 19 we build the first of two high tunnels. This will be the heated tunnel. The unheated tunnel is slated to be built after the first of the year. If either of those projects interests you, or if you can lend a hand on one or more days, please stop and pick up a flyer with details at the information desk. We’re buying lunch! 

This spring we hope to begin seeing the fruits (actually vegetables) of the center as the Yang family start producing early tomatoes and peppers and cool weather crops like broccoli, cauliflower and greens.

Next fall we hope to see even more veggies as the farmers who participate in workshops at the center put their knowledge to work building and managing their own high tunnels, resulting in more produce for us and our customers and more income for our farmers.

Yes, it seems like we always have something going on to improve the market. In fact, sometimes it’s hard to keep up!

We have occasionally been complimented by customers and the organizations we work with on how organized the market is. That’s always lovely to hear because from our viewpoint it sometimes feels like chaos. But our chaos is really only lots and lots of good things happening at the same time.
We hope to see you at the market often this winter. We’ll be open every Saturday except possibly the day after Christmas and any Saturday that the roads are not safe to travel.

It’s a great place, not only to fill your plates with tasty, healthy food, but also pick up gifts. Why not tie a ribbon around a jar of honey or jam and put it at each place for your holiday meal?  Or tuck a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans in someone’s stocking?  And then there’s always bacon!  What a practical gift a cooler filled with frozen meats would be. There are lots of wonderful local gift ideas from our regular vendors and our Christkindlmarket artisans. Gifts that please both the giver and the recipient and bless the hands that made them possible.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Webb City Sentinel column - 11/20/15

Want to try Crockpot Squash Mac ‘N’ Cheese?  Come to the market tomorrow. We have a new Market Lady, Jordan Nichols, and she has created a recipe especially for the market by ramping up the health benefits – and taste – of macaroni and cheese. She’ll be serving it up tomorrow by the information table from 9 to noon.

Be sure to stop by Fairhaven’s table as well and check out this season’s pecan harvest. They’ll have picked out pecans. Carrole got busy in the kitchen this week and made batches of gooseberry jam and rhubarb jam to add to her already large offering of homemade jams and butters.  Right next door to them, Oakwoods will be giving out samples of a tasty dressing you can make with their roasted peppers.

We have a new honey vendor, Ed Cook, of Cook’s Berry Junction in Liberal. And we can also call him our salt vendor because he makes smoked seasoned salts. The choices are Sriracha, Truffle, Bourbon Bacon, Tequila Lime Dill, Adobe and Wasabi. I’m pretty sure Sriracha and Wasabi are HOT, and so not for me, but some of those others are tempting. They’ll make great stocking stuffers too.

And speaking, indirectly, of the holidays, we’ll be open this Saturday and next as usual, and also this Wednesday from 11 to 1 at the pavilion for our annual Holiday Market. We should have a good choice of produce, baked goods and other tasty treats as well as the wares of many of our Christkindlmarket vendors. If you want to pre-order baked goods, just stop by the baker’s booth this Saturday to place an order.  (That's bibb lettuce growing in one of the Braker Farm high tunnels - photographed yesterday)

We have a new Christkindlmarket vendor who I have been trying to recruit for years. Lee Ann Sours is known at the market as one of our fiddle players, but she is also an accomplished weaver and textile artist. At last she will be at the market with some of her lovely hats and scarves. Her supply is limited so this may be her only appearance. Don’t miss it.

Mark Barger will play his Native American flutes tomorrow. We won’t have a prepared meal, but Hazel’s Bakery will have some tasty muffins – I know because that’s what I had for breakfast last Saturday – and Holy Grounds will serve hot drinks. Enjoy the sounds and tastes of the market while you’re here, and challenge someone to a game. Our game table last week was constantly busy with folks, both young and old, playing checkers, chess and dominos and the little ones coloring. 

This past week we recognized some special people at the market. Each year the market board selects a market Champion, someone who has made a difference at the market. Past recipients include Karen McGlamery, Janet Taylor and Donna Krudwig, volunteer managers, as well as Extension educators Patrick Byers and Shon Bishop. Park Director Tom Reeder and the Perry Foundation are both part of that elite group. This year our Champion is Marilyn Thornberry who has volunteered countless hours at the information desk for over ten years. She is a Champion of the first order.

We also select a recipient for the Golden Washrag Award. The award gets its name from the efforts of the first recipient. About eight years ago, we began asking vendors to pitch in at the market, helping with set up or take down. Robin Green, with Green’s Greenhouse and Gardens, was the first to volunteer and spent that summer wiping down the tables and benches, hence the washrag name. The second year Nancy Rasmussen was the winner after having cleaned the market bathrooms all year. Yes, we have some pretty glamorous jobs at the market. Many other vendors have been thanked with the award – in 2011 all our Hmong vendors were recognized for the tons of produce they donated to feed the volunteers in the tornado recovery effort.

 This year, the award went to Tami Fredrickson and Missy Jones. (Tami's on the left, Missy on the right) Most market days this summer, despite working incredibly long hours at the farm, they stayed and helped close up the market. Now Missy and Tami are putting in hours and hours getting the market’s kitchen ready. If you want something clean, call this team. They do amazing work. So three cheers for Marilyn, Tami and Missy. They deserve thanks from everyone connected with the market and they sure have mine.

We’ll see you at the market tomorrow. It’s going to be another wonderful day!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Webb City Sentinel market column - 11/13/15

What a wonderful start we had last Saturday for our Winter Market.  It was busy, it was festive, it was loaded with vendors and their beautiful products and it’s going to be just as good tomorrow.  Who knows?  Maybe even better.

In addition to most of last week’s vendors, we’ll have some additonal vendors – Mende Staggs is coming for the first time in months with her pink oyster mushrooms.  They’ll go fast!  In the Christkindlmarket, BHaynes returns with her delightful hats and scarves made out of repurposed sweaters.

Market Lady Carolyn Smith makes her first appearance of the year with Hearty Autumn Salad.  The recipe is printed below, but come sample it on tomorrow and pick up some of the ingredients.  Carolyn managed to secure recipe booklets and some reusable bags from Ott’s dressing who donated the dressing for the demonstration.  The first 25 families who ask, get a bag!

Rob Pommert will play his gentle popular tunes.  Hazel’s Bakery will have muffins you can enjoy for breakfast.  Hebrew Holy Grounds promised to have coffee.

Anna Leonard, a certified application counselor with Mercy Hospital, will be at the market tomorrow to provide information on the Affordable Care Act and on obtaining health insurance through the Marketplace. 

It’s the Fall at the market.  Bring a camera (or your phone) and take a photo with the market scarecrows.  They are sitting just inside the market’s north and south entrances amid pumpkins and gourds donated by Fredrickson Farm’s Pumpkin Patch.  How’s that for good timing?  The Pumpkin Patch closed on October 31 and the winter market began the first Saturday in November and we got as many of their fall decorations as we could haul off!  And their generosity doesn’t end there.  Tami & Steve Fredrickson spent Thursday tearing the roof off the market bathrooms and will be working with some professional roofers they hoodwinked into volunteering to put on the new roof today. 
People sometimes give me a lot of credit for the market, but believe me, it’s a team effort and you couldn’t ask for a better team.

We’ll see you at the market tomorrow.


Layer the following ingredients on a salad plate or in a salad bowl.

Kale, torn in bite-size pieces (or substitute your favorite salad greens)
Dried cranberries
Butternut squash (shredded or cut in thin pieces)*
Beet (shredded or cut in thin pieces)*
Apple slices
Feta cheese
Toasted pecans (or substitute your favorite nuts)
Salt and pepper to taste
Serve with Ott's Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing
*If you prefer roasted vegetables, cut the squash and beets in cubes, toss in a small amount of oil, and roast.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Webb City Sentinel market column - 11-6-15 Kay is Back!

You might think that things would be winding down at the market, but not so. In fact, we’re gearing up for one of our busy seasons!  

Tomorrow is the first Saturday of Christkindlmarket, and that news means we’re in for lots of treats, but how about this?  Hazel’s Bakery is back!  Kay McLaughlin is coming out of retirement for the second time, lured by the promise of the market kitchen. She is using her small inspected kitchen for the next couple of weeks but looking forward to cutting her baking time in half once the market kitchen and its convection ovens are fully operational. So we’re already reaping benefits from the market kitchen and it’s not even open for business yet. 

Kay, and her pies, cakes, cookies and fruit breads, will be set up next to Fredrickson Farms, because her apprentices are none other than Tami and Missy of that very farm. They’ve been elbow deep in flour for the last couple of days. Tami is our board president and she figured this would be a great way to learn all about the market kitchen (plus, she’s also her own best customer. She put in an order for 20 pies for the Lord’s Acre supper at her church tomorrow night.).

Another vendor expected at the market this Saturday is one that we’ve seen far too little of this year - Amos Apiaries with their local honey. They plan to come about once a month, so tomorrow’s the day to stock up, both for yourself and for gifts for the holidays.
The pavilion should be packed tomorrow. We have seven farms bringing produce. Robertson Family Farm is bringing frozen blueberries from their harvest this year and blueberry syrups. Misty Morning Farm will have cracked pecans, and they’re super fresh, harvested and cracked the week of sale. M & M Bistro returns with their Mediterranean menu of gyros, chicken wraps, hummus and tabouleh plates, plus the best baklava you’ve ever eaten.
And good eating you can take home can be found at The Red Tamale who will be selling handmade frozen tamales in the Christkindlmarket on the south end. We always vet prepared foods prior to accepting vendors. I knew we had a winner when the taste tester (my husband, Phil) declared the tamales superb. 

In the Christkindlmarket, which will be open in conjunction with the farmers market every Saturday from 9 to noon until Christmas, you’ll find some old favorites like woodworkers Ed Grundy and the Chaffin Family, seamstress Edith Bayless, as well as Willow Island with felted and knitted items, Copper Leaf Pottery and Odd Duck Soaps. We also have some new crafters you won’t want to miss.
Christkindlmarkets are an old tradition of open air holiday markets in German-speaking areas of Europe. We spread ours over two months of Saturdays so we celebrate two holidays with harvest decorations until Thanksgiving and then Christmas decorations and music after Thanksgiving. (Yes, Jesse DeGonia, that is how it is done.) 

And we do all this celebrating with the sidewalls down on the pavilion and with the heaters warming us. So come to the farmers market/Christkindlmarket, pose for a photo with the scarecrows, grab some hot chocolate, fresh produce, lunch for later, some gifts and learn how to make a holiday recipe. You may want to do a little jig too if you can’t resist the music.

Marshall Mitchell, our cowboy singer, will perform from 9 to 11. The Market Dude, Frank Reiter, will demonstrate Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cranberries with toasted pecans and goat cheese, drizzled with balsamic honey.
Watch the market come alive while we celebrate yet another season. See you at the market!