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!