Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Webb City Sentinel market column - 10-30-15

I’ve got a Halloween treat for you - something by a talented new writer!

One of our young vendors, Mabel Brubacker, recently sent me this remembrance of the 2015 growing season which I think you will enjoy.  (She wrote this while on a trip out west - that's her at the Grand Canyon.)

It might be hard to create a clear picture with a blurry mixture of planting, weeding, harvesting and selling in my memory, so maybe I'll just write about each activity, which repeated itself throughout the summer and is mostly all we did!

We had a wet year which made planting hard and gave the weeds the upper hand, but all in all we had a pretty good year for produce. Every few weeks we started another setting of 3-4,000 plants. David and Matthew did most of that, filling the trays with dirt and planting a seed in each pot, then Dad kept the plants watered till they were ready to be transplanted into the plastic mulch in the produce field. That was a long job for the whole crew! One person would punch holes in the plastic, some would plant the seedlings into the holes, others followed up with water, and then finally a large handful of dirt went around the plants.

Weeding seemed never ending and a losing battle this year with all the rain, and the weeds did get the upper hand, despite the hours upon hours we spent trying to subdue them. Often it was so wet they just transplanted themselves after we hoed them out and continued growing. Then produce picking days...morning to night days, busy with picking the veggies, washing them and packing them into crates. We had the whole nine yards at one time or the other. 

Market days are work and kept us hopping too: three days a week each to Springfield and Webb City... but selling is the rewarding part of raising produce - piling the fruit of your labors on the tables and watching happy customers choose what's most appealing to them and walk away with a bagful!  The market in Webb City is my favorite! 

And we girls also do some baking...I enjoy baking and started off doing it myself and selling in Springfield. We prefer to use whole wheat flour and started off with mostly that kind of baked goods, but when the main baker in the Webb City market retired we started baking for that market. My sisters began helping since I couldn't do it all anymore. We also decided to make things with white flour since the many of the customers seem to prefer that. I still make whole wheat bread and that sells more by far than the white bread. I also use whole wheat flour in the cinnamon rolls and cheese breads I make. Ruth has mastered the cookies, Sarah makes pies and quick breads, and Mary does the cakes, bars and pumpkin rolls. Those sell like hot cakes! 

So that's what we've been busy with, in addition to daily housework, canning and freezing fruits and vegetables.

In October produce season was slowing, but we stayed busy getting ready for our long trip to the west coast for the wedding. (Mabel’s brother Lloyd was married last week.) It feels good to have most of the things wrapped up we'd been hoping to. 

The winter squash are all harvested and most of the produce patches plowed down. We worked up some Concord grapes the other week, mostly into juice, then last week we got our yearly apple order from Waverly, and put up 75 gallons of cider, some applesauce, and pie filling.

Mabel is part of Harmony Hill Farm near Wentworth. Like our other farmers, the Brubackers work very hard but love what they do. Many of us will be happy to see them tomorrow after their two week absence for the wedding.
Another vendor we’ll welcome back tomorrow is Cottage Small Coffee Roasters. We’ve been missing Josh and Genevieve Moore and their excellent coffee beans most of the summer while they secured a new roaster. Finally, they’re back!

Tomorrow is our last Cooking for a Cause of the Season. It benefits the Joplin Humane Society. Pancakes, grilled ham and eggs to order.

The Mayfields from Ozark are playing. AND it’s Halloween so everyone who shows up in a costume gets a free mini-bag of kettle corn!  (Alright, even kids in regular clothes are going to get a bag too.)
Don’t forget that Tuesday markets are done for the season. Next Saturday we start our Christkindlmarket so expect to see lots of  gift ideas, as well as many of our regular vendors loaded with produce, baked goods, eggs, meats and other goodies. We’ll also have a new vendor with cracked pecans that she’s harvesting just for you this week. Watch for details in next week’s column.