I had a moment of insight this week. Someone called wanting to be a vendor at the market, but only for a couple of times, basically to clear out his stock of plants and trees. I told him that we didn’t do that because if customers were to come back in three weeks for more information or with plants that failed to thrive, he would no longer be at the market to answer questions or replace the plant. His response – well, the market couldn’t be held liable so why did we care? Insight – he was not the vendor for us and yes, the market would be liable. Our customers expect the market to host vendors they can count on. Of course, there is the occasional piece of poor produce that slips through. When you have tons of produce going through the market, that’s bound to happen. But the market takes responsibility for everything that is sold. We vet our vendors, we keep an eye on their products, we buy from them ourselves. We want to be the best market we can be and that means hosting vendors that can be relied upon and vendors that will be there to respond to questions and problems.
The market has many valuable assets – loyal customers, hardworking and skilled farmers, vendors who care about our market and the well-being of our customers, volunteers who keep us organized and helpful, but perhaps our most valuable asset is our reputation. Without a good reputation, the market can’t take advantage of any of those other good things.
I love the people I work with, in part, because they understand that what is good for market is good for everyone involved in the market. We all rise together in the market boat.
And that market boat continues to have new delights. Redings Mill Bread Company will be at the market today with their artisan breads. It’s their first time on a Friday in a very long time. I hope our customers will make it worth their while.
On Saturday Jim Agee returns with his first fruits of harvest – pie cherries and rhubarb.
On Tuesday, Robertson Farm returns with blueberries. Oh, yes, we love this time of year.
Today Granny Shaffers serves their catfish and fried potatoes for $3. Lumpy’s Express has pulled pork and brisket sandwiches. Sonny Lau plays bluegrass and gospel.
The Extension crew is at the market to answer gardening and growing questions. We’ll have three or four experts from University of Missouri and Lincoln University Extension at your service. They’ll also touch base with all our farmers, checking for problems and offering advice.
I was on farm inspections last Monday when I had another insight. How many markets do you suppose have the benefit of four Extension specialists going along on farm visits to advise the market farmers? I suspect that would be one in the entire USA and that fortunate market would be Webb City’s. Of course, the specialists benefit by seeing what’s happening in the field and by working as a team, but we benefit tremendously because they look for issues and provide solutions. At one farm, they noted signs of nutrient deficiencies, probably brought on by all the rain leaching the nutrients out of the soil. Randy Garrett with Lincoln and Robert Balek with University of Missouri found a shovel and a bucket and took soil samples to send off. When the results come in, they will go over the recommendations with the farmer and make sure she understands how to rectify the problem.
There is a reason that we often hear that we have the best produce in the area. It is the combination of hardworking farmers who are always eager to learn and Extension experts who are eager to teach. What a wonderful combination.
Tomorrow Marshall Mitchell will perform. The kids love him and his cowboy outfit riding hissaddle and pony on a sawhorse. He sings wonderful songs for adults, but let a child come near and he launches into kids songs immediately, drawing them in.
Breakfast benefits Greyhound Pets of America, an organization that places retired racing dogs in loving homes.
The Carthage Business Women of Missouri will sell nuts on Saturday to benefit their scholarship program.
On Tuesday, the Pommerts will play. Carmine’s Woodfired Pizza will bake up artisan pizzas. Supper with Trish will be pork chops, stuffing, oriental coleslaw (using market cabbage), dessert and drink for $5. Trish serves from 5 till sell out. The market is open from 4 to 7 on Tuesdays. And, don’t forget, Tuesday is the first day of blueberry season!