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.