Thursday, August 6, 2015

Webb City Sentinel market column - 8-9-15

It’s national farmers market week and we’re celebrating by giving away $25 in market tokens today, Saturday and Tuesday. Enter your name at the information table. We also have “I love farmers markets” temporary tattoos - and no, you don’t have to be a kid to get one. The National Farmers Market Coalition is encouraging folks to take a photo of themselves with their tattoo and post it to Instagram with the hash tag #MoretoMarket. Maybe now I’ll have to finally figure out Instagram.

In celebration of the week the Coalition provided reasons to support markets. Some of my favorites:

They provide financial security to beginning farmers, allowing them to start small, learn and grow.

Farmers selling at markets receive more for their product. Most selling through wholesalers receive less than 16% of the final purchase price of their product. At our market, the farmer receives as much as 98 cents of every dollar of produce they sell. (In other words, the market charges them 2% to sell at the market - & that 2% goes to pay the musicians, the transaction costs of the credit, debit and food stamp card charges and other shared costs.)

And more successful farmers means more farmland is preserved from urban sprawl and more food is grown and consumed locally and we get to know the people who grow and make our food.

To those reasons, I would add a few more. I like to think that the market also makes us a better community and I love that more and more children know where their food comes from.

I think for many of us, the market is an important “third place”. Third places have been around for centuries but the term was coined in 1991 by Ray Oldenburg in his book “The Great Good Place.” The “first place” is home, the “second” is work or school. The “third” is a community gathering place. It could be a church, a community center, a coffee shop, or in our case a market. Where I grew up, it was the tiny general store where folks would gather round the pot bellied stove in the winter for a game of checkers or to catch the local news from the owner, Miss Pearl. Speaking of which, I’m bringing out the checker and chess sets this week. The high season crowds have thinned a bit and with the addition of our Kids Tent we have room (and time) to play a game or two.

As the EPA finishes their work west of the market filling in the pit and creating a large open lawn, the park board will be exploring improvements in the area. I hope you will share any thoughts you have that would further the market’s role as a third place. What would make it a better gathering place and what would make it a better lingering place - for all ages? What would make it a Great Good Place?

Today we have Granny Shaffer’s serving their popular catfish and fried potatoes for $3. Lumpy’s Express should have pulled pork, brisket, ribs and smoked chicken and sides. Cliff Walker is playing. Extension will be at the market to answer your gardening and landscaping questions.

Tomorrow the Radley’s return to the market stage. Cooking for a Cause benefit’s the Webb City Girl Scout Troop 26433. They’ll serve biscuits and gravy, sausages, eggs cooked to order and orange juice or coffee. Music and meal run from 9 to 11. The market is open from 9 to noon on Saturdays.

Apple Road Farm brings their first harvest of honey tomorrow. I expect it to sell out fast. Owners Mende and Brad Staggs spent the early summer rescuing honey bee swarms. Swarms happen when a hive becomes too large and splits into two colonies, one of which must depart for a new home. Unfortunately their idea of a new home is sometimes problematic, like when it’s on the side of your house or in the tree by your front door. This year, rather than destroying the swarm, folks could call the Staggs who would gear up and lure the bees into a swarm hive. Once secured, the swarm was placer in a new hive at Apple Road Farm.

In the “it’s a small world” category, Brad is the nephew of Resa Amos, co-owner of Amos Apiaries, long-time honey vendors at the market. This spring the Amos’ honey crop failed and they have been sorely missed at the market. We hope to see them again by fall.

On Tuesday, Marshall Mitchell returns to the supper tent. The Pommerts will play in the pavilion. Carmine’s Wood Fire Pizza will bake artisan pizza to order from 4 to 7. Supper with Trish begins at 5 – spaghetti, salad, garlic bread, brownie and drink for $5. The Free Kids Supper runs from 5 to 6:30 and will be sloppy Joes, cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes and milk.

I hope we’ll see you this week at our “third place”. (You’ll look good in a market tattoo!)