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?