Friday, January 29, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 1/29/16

We’ll have a couple of vendors tomorrow we don’t often see. Sandy Robinson will be there with her exquisite handcrafted jewelry. And Hillside Farm will be at the market with green garlic!  

Hillside specializes in a variety called elephant garlic. The reason for its name is obvious. It’s really big!  It’s also milder than the smaller garlic varieties.

Because it’s so big and because the crop grew very well during the mild fall, Craig (the garlic guy) finds that it’s already time to do some thinning of the rows so the bulbs don’t get too crowded as they mature.  That means green garlic for us.
Green garlic is just the immature version of regular garlic. It’s milder and it won’t cure so it should be treated like fresh produce – refrigerate it and use it within a few days. The whole plant is edible at this stage, bulb and leaves, and it can be eaten raw or cooked. 

This may be a one-time appearance at the market for Hillside until the more typical time to sell green garlic which is usually May and June. Of course, the regular garlic won’t be in season until close to late-summer or fall. So you garlic fans need to be at the market tomorrow. Any really, who is not a garlic fan?  Well, I guess Dracula but he rarely makes it to the market anyway.

Also at the market tomorrow – Mabel with Harmony Hill Farm is serving stuffed acorn squash for $3.50. It’s stuffed with pork, veggies and spices and is, no doubt, yummy. Phil and I will be taking some home for supper. Next Saturday Mabel is switching things up and serving biscuits and gravy.
Scott Eastman returns to the market stage. He made his debut earlier this month and we were so pleased with the type and quality of his performance that we knew he was a keeper. We hope he’ll be at the market often this year.

We expect three farms with fresh local produce, plus jams, jellies, fruit butters and pecans from Fairhaven, and chicken, beef and goat meat from Penn Acres. The Red Tamale will be there with frozen tamales and King’s Kettle Corn with their wares. There’ll be eggs (but they’ll sell out fast), raw food bars, baked goods, frozen blueberries and blueberry syrup. In the non-food department, we expect Rebecca with glass and metal art and Garden ’n Goats with their very popular goat’s milk soap.

Market Lady Jordan Nichols will serve samples of Tex-Mex Scramble (eggs, cheese & veggies).

We’ve expanded our food stamp matches through March – SNAP customers can swipe their card for up to $15 in regular food stamp tokens and receive up to $30 in match tokens good for fruits and vegetables. Normally we do a 1:1 match but the grant year ends in March and we want our local folks to get all the benefits available. We heard from many of our food stamp customers that the match program has dramatically increased the amount of fresh produce in their families’ diets. We know the extra sales are good for our farmers and we expect the improved diets are equally good for those customers.

Fresh produce is more expensive than cheap processed food, but there is a health and medical care price to be paid for a poor diet. The match program is actually a national research project to determine whether this small investment will result in improved diets for low income people which in turn should result in healthier people requiring less medical care. At Webb City, it looks like that investment will pay big dividends.
Between hosting two conferences and the opening of the kitchen last week, plus interviewing for and hiring a market manager, things were really hoping last week. I’ve been promoted to Market Master (a title I have resisted for years because it’s so high falutin’) but I will certainly still be around. However the market has grown so much that it needs a professional manager and we think we’ve found the right person. If all goes well, I’ll introduce him to you next week.

Having visitors from across the state and other states as well always opens our eyes to so many of the good things we experience every day. The other market managers were impressed with our town and the market. I think it would be fair to say they were even a bit in awe of the new market kitchen and the market in general. They were also impressed with the media coverage. Those from the cities like St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia hardly ever get the attention of their local media and those from the small towns have little media to attract so when they saw our Sentinel editor snapping photos at the farm tour and at the opening of the kitchen and saw all the television stations doing stories, they were blown away. Many said, “I’ve recorded the story that was on last night, do you want a copy?”  “Oh, no, thank you. It will be on line and they do stories often.”  Yes, we lead a charmed life. Come enjoy it with us tomorrow. We’re open from 9 to noon.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 1-15-16

The market is open tomorrow from 9 to noon. Mabel with Harmony Hills Farm is serving Chicken Spaghetti Casserole and side salad for $3.50. You can eat in or take out. 

We welcome Scott Eastman for the first time to the market stage. Market Dude Frank Reiter is sharing his chicken pot pie recipe. He’s preparing it in the market kitchen, our first demonstrator to do so.

We’re expecting four farms tomorrow – Braker Farm, Oakwoods, Harmony Hill and the Xiong Farm. There should be a bonanza of fresh salad greens, plus other goodies like turnips, cabbage, green onions, kohlrabi and more. And there’ll be honey!  Amos Apiaries will be at the market. Other vendors expected include Cottage Small Coffee Roasters, Red Tamale, Misty Morning Farm with pecans, Sunny Lane with beef, lamb and chicken, Kings Kettle Corn, and more.

We’re gearing up for a very busy week. On Monday we have three teams of interviewers meeting with applicants for the part-time market manager position we hope to fill in the next few weeks. Anyone interested in applying needs to send their resume to by 5 pm today. A job description can be found on the market website:

On Thursday and Friday we host the Midwest Winter Production Conference. We still have a few seats left, so call me if you want to attend – 483-8139. Details are on the market web site. 

Then on Friday and Saturday we host the Missouri Farmers Market Association’s annual meeting. It begins with a bus tour on Friday morning to Amos Apiaries, Keltoi Winery and the Braker Farm. The cost is $20 per person and includes lunch provided by Harmony Hill Farm. There are just a few seats left but we can always caravan in cars if we exceed the capacity of the park’s trolley bus. We thought the out-of-towners would get a kick riding on the park bus that so loving re-creates the old trolley.   To see a slide show of the renovation, go to:

They’ll also get a treat next Saturday morning when the real trolley is pulled out of the barn so folks can look it over. The track is not ready to run it around the loop, but I think folks will be pleased just to climb aboard. 

My market friends around the state believe we live a charmed life and I think they’re right. We have a lovely pavilion – with sides and heat in the winter - and a one-of-a-kind trolley right by the market. We have a county health department that is a pleasure to work with and a park department and city that goes the extra mile to make the market exceptional. We have wonderful volunteers and vendors who like, even love, each other. We have a school system that brings kids to the market on field trips and provides us ground (and students) for the community garden. We have terrific support from Lincoln University and MU Extension who provide what really has to be considered farmer training of national consequence. (How many markets have their own Winter Production Education Site?)  

Yes, life is good in Webb City. From the market’s standpoint, the city’s motto couldn’t ring truer – We Love It Here.

Next Saturday the trolley is just a part of the doin’s. The head of Missouri USDA Rural Development will be down to help us officially open the kitchen. Rural Development provided the seed money for the kitchen. After a few words at 8:30 from them and others like the city, the Perry Foundation and Cardinal Scale, all of whom made the kitchen possible, the kitchen will be open for tours until 10. Tami Fredrickson is using her new baking skills to give everyone a free muffin and Cottage Small is donating coffee beans for delicious coffee.

And, yes, the south pavilion will still be decorated for Christmas because a) it’s pretty and b) I’ve been out of town with my little grandson Wyatt – who is a sweetie. I promise to get it undecorated after all the conferences.

The state conference will have a growers track that may be of interest to local gardeners. Adam Montri of Michigan State will speak on organic pest control. David Yarrow of Columbia will talk about healthy soils. If you only want to attend a couple of presentations, let me know. I bet I can get you a deal! Details are on the association’s website:

Come start this memorable market week with us tomorrow – we’re open from 9 to noon.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Webb City Sentinel Column - 1/8/16

The market is open tomorrow from 9 to noon.  Mabel with Harmony Hills Farm is serving chili with cornbread for $3.50.  You can eat in or take out.  

We should have lots of pecans, in shell and picked out.  Misty Morning, Fairhaven and Luman Farm will all have pecans.  We’re expecting five farms with fresh local produce, plus there will be jams and jellies, eggs, raw food bars, frozen tamales, blueberry syrup and frozen blueberries, baked goods and a variety of meats.  Kings Kettle Corn will be popping by the north door.  

Edith Bayless will be at the market with her sewn goods, Rebecca will have her glass and metal art and jewelry and we’ll have soaps from Goat‘N Garden.  (Check our Facebook page for any changes that weather might cause.  If it’s icy some of our more remote farmers can’t get into town.)

Rob Pommert will play and Market Lady Carolyn Smith is demonstrating Sweet and Spicy Acorn Squash Quesadillas.

We’re upping our game on our food stamp matching program for the next couple of months.  When we teamed up with the national non-profit Wholesome Wave we had $10,000 of match funds available through March.   We had no idea how long those funds would last but here we are two and a half months from the end of the first year and we have enough remaining funds to double up our match.  So until the funding runs out, we’ll have $2 of match tokens for every $1 of food stamp purchase.  We can match up to $15 for each food stamp customer at each market.  The match tokens can only be spent on fruits and veggies.  The regular food stamp tokens can buy all the usual food stamp things including all kinds of food except hot food and food eaten on site.

We have funding for three years with Wholesome Wave’s matching program.  Then we may need to knock on some doors to secure additional funding.  It has been a tremendous boon for our lower income customers and our farmers this year and we hear all kinds of positive feedback from both.  We’ve also been able to provide a lot of research data to Wholesome Wave as to how the program affects the diets of participants – it has in a big way.  

We have a lot going on in the next month in addition to the Saturday market.  We’re hosting the Midwest Winter Production Conference January 21 and 22 and will have farmers and educators from all over Missouri and neighboring states earning how to extend growing seasons and farm through the winter.  On January 22 and 23 we’re hosting the annual conference of the Missouri Farmers Market Association.  There will be lots of learning there too, for both market managers and for growers.

On Saturday, January 23, we have the opening of the market kitchen.  The Missouri head of the USDA-Rural Development, and representatives from the city, the Perry Foundation and Cardinal Scale, all of which helped make the kitchen possible, will be there to help us celebrate.  After some brief words at 8:30, the kitchen will be open for tours until 9:30.  

We host our first workshop in the kitchen from 1 to 4 pm on Wednesday, February 3, when Dan Kuebler teaches how to ferment sauerkraut.  Dan, whose sauerkraut is very popular at the Columbia Farmers Market, will provide the raw cabbage, salt, quart jars and caraway, dill, and fennel seeds.  If folks want to add a little beet, carrot or garlic, they can bring it from home.  This is a hands-on workshop.  Everyone will take home a quart jar filled with salted, shredded cabbage and spices of their choice and watch it ferment on their own kitchen counter over a 3 to 4 week ferment time.  We are very pleased to bring Dan to Southwest Missouri.  He operates an organic farm, The Salad Garden, in Ashland, Missouri, and is also a state leader in the Slow Food movement.  The charge for the class is $25 per person.

Our last bit of news this week is that the market is hiring a part-time manager.  Our volunteer managers will not go away but the market reached the point some years ago that it really needed a professional manager.  We were just waiting on funding.  Thanks to a USDA grant, we now have funding for two years, after which we hope to either secure more funding or better yet, grow the market and the kitchen’s use to the point that we can support a market manager on our own.  We will interview candidates on January 18.  The job description is on the market’s website:

We’ll see you at the market tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

We're looking for a part-time market manager!

Do you love working with people? Are you self-motivated and organized? We're looking for a part-time market manager and will be interviewing on Monday, January 18th. (& yes, it's a paid position!)  We'd love to talk to you about it! For the job description and details, click