Friday, May 27, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 5-27-16

I was leery about the weather yesterday. The forecast called for scattered showers which was about the same forecast we had earlier in the week when we had a downpour and very stormy weather. While the pavilion protects us in the case of rain, it could really cut down on the kids

coming for lunch. We ended up with lovely weather and served 228 children. That's over twice the biggest day we had last year. It is exciting for us to introduce so many children to fresh local foods. What they had on Thursday in addition to their drumstick and biscuit included a fresh tossed salad, sugar snap peas and a tomato and cucumber salad.  I expect at least some of them found a new favorite vegetable.

The beautiful weather held for our first twilight tunnel walk last night at the winter production education center south of Rocky Comfort on the Yang farm.  We had a nice turnout of market growers interested in starting winter production. University of Missouri and Lincoln University Extension specialists had lots of useful information to share. Center manager Fue Yang and his mentor, Hector Troyer, also shared their experiences in working with the high tunnels.  Those of you who remember Hector will be pleased to know he should be back at the market in a week or two. It depends on when the new baby arrives because he really needs to be home for that. His son Lance who was also at the twilight walk assures me that he will be returning with his homemade dog biscuits soon.  That's him in the suspenders on the left and him last year at the market with his brother Logan.

Remember my mentioning fried pies last week?  Well, they’ll be at the market tomorrow!  Enos and Sarah Herthyler of Way Back Bakery will be frying them up in the market kitchen and selling them in the pavilion beside their friends the Detweilers near the music.

And remember what I said about space being at a premium?  Well, the pavilion will be bursting at the seams tomorrow with every side space taken and some eight vendors in the center aisle. In the very center of the pavilion will be the American Legion Post 322 Auxiliary with paper poppies in honor of Memorial Day. Donations support disabled and hospitalized veterans. We hope to see lots of poppies tomorrow.

William Adkins plays golden oldies tomorrow and breakfast is served by the Webb City High School Choir Boosters. Breakfast and music go till 11. The market is open from 9 to noon.

Next week, we’ll be open on Tuesday (rain or shine and the forecast is for rain, rain, rain). We are so fortunate to have the pavilion. It was formerly known as the Mining Days pavilion because the Mining Days committee built it back in the 1980’s to house their craft show held once a year during the annual celebration). That makes the pavilion close about 35 years old and it has certainly improved with age. The parks department reworked it several years ago, strengthening the structure, dressing it up and joining the two pavilions into one. The Perry Foundation paid for the concrete floor. In rainy times, we are so thankful for both. Once inside customers can go from one end to the other without stepping outside. Before you had to sprint the open 30 feet between the pavilions. And the floor and improved drainage lifts us above any run off. I remember once getting caught in a rain storm before the floor was in place. Marilyn Thornberry and I were packing up but the storm hit before we could get away. We ended up sitting on top of a picnic table to avoiding the water flooding through the pavilion!

Bring an umbrella to get to the pavilion if it’s raining and enjoy the market from end to end once inside. On Tuesday the Pommerts will play. We are expecting Stewart’s Bakery and Carmine’s Pizza to serve supper. The Free Kids Meal will be beef tostadas and homemade salsa with chips, plus other fresh produce and milk.

On Thursday, we enjoy the music of William Adkins. Granny Shaffers will be there with their catfish and potato wedges and Thai wraps. We’ll have a Free Kids Meal but the June menu isn’t out yet. Check our website or Facebook for details.

If you can help with the Kids Meal, stop by the information table and sign up for a day. We need help, mostly with serving, and will take you for an hour or three, whatever works for you.

We’re also looking for volunteers to help set up and take down the week day markets and to help run the information table.

Good things are happening at the market. Come be a part of it.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 5-18-16

It’s crunch time at the market, when I start moving the vendors around on my layout sheets like so many pieces of a puzzle. This vendor needs a space and a half, that one can get by with a partial space. The new vendor is going to have to move into the middle aisle. Everybody’s going to have to cozy up!  Saturday is the big challenge because that’s when we have the most vendors, but the weekday markets won’t be far behind in filling up with vendors. To make it even more interesting, all the spaces (post to post) aren’t the same. One is over 11 feet long, most are about 9 and a few are only 6 feet long. I’m not sure why the pavilion was constructed that way but it sure does make it interesting to lay out. 

With the produce rolling in and more and more of our vendors ready to sell, I must admit I sometimes worry how on earth we can fit them all in. It’s a good problem to have and I’m hoping we can solve it, in part, by spreading to the north under tents or canopies. In the long run, the solution is an extension to the pavilion, but honestly that might only be a temporary solution. We just keep growing. Last week we received an application from an Amish family wanting to do fried pies right in the market kitchen for sale on Saturdays. Fresh fried pies?  I can’t say no to that!

We have a special treat at the market tomorrow. Robert Bruce Scott is passing through on his Midwest tour. He lives in Indianapolis and we get to host him whenever he does a tour on the way to visit his parents in Oklahoma. He stays over at our house and he’ll be sailing in late Friday night after his two gigs in Springfield. He is incredibly versatile and has treated us to renaissance music, opera (including some Klingon opera), a whole show of Bob Dylan music, Broadway. You name it and Robert can probably do it. This time his show is centered on Songs for the 12 String Guitar. He will also play his harp and mandolin. It will be a treat.

Cooking for a Cause benefits Webb City’s senior Girl Scout Troop #26433. They will serve biscuits and gravy, sausage, farm fresh tomato slices and cooked-to-order market eggs. Both music and breakfast run from 9 to noon.

On Tuesday we’ll be serving the Free Kids Meal from 4:30 to 6:30. The menu is spaghetti and meat sauce, fresh market salad, raw sugar snap peas, a bread stick and milk. The Pommerts will play. Carmine’s Woodfired Pizza will bake to order and Stewart’s Bakery is serving meatloaf.

On Thursday, William Adkins is playing. The Free Kids Meal is served from 11 to 2. The menu is oven roasted chicken legs, sweet potato fries, tomato and cucumber salad, biscuit and milk. Harv’s BBQ and M & M Bistro will have lunch for the grown-ups.

Don’t forget that Thursday night the Winter Production Education Center will host its fourth Thursday Twilight Tunnel Walk. It starts at 7 pm at the Yang Farm, 1213 Route U, Rocky Comfort. I’ll serve a walk-around supper of hot dog or brat, chips and drink for $4 and $5 respectively. This time of year our farmers rarely get to eat before 10 pm. Hopefully having a supper available during the walk will make up for pulling them off their own farm for some education during such a busy time. The walk, however, is open to everyone interested in learning about high tunnels or learning about where their food comes from.  (That's actually Sam Craig's tunnel at Center Creek Farm but it was too perfect not to use for our Twilight Walk publicity!)

It’s a busy time of year, but the learning never stops at the market. Come join us.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 5-13-16

Do you ever start a project with a thrill AND trepidation?  Remember last week when I said the Saturday before Mothers Day was expected to be a big day?  When I left home a few minutes before 7:30 Saturday, it was a cool, crisp morning. I stepped up to the car and took a deep breath. The feeling was just like that I had back in the day when I stood on a mountain top preparing to hit the slopes on skis. A sense of both trepidation and thrill swept through me. And then I was off! To the market.

Saturday was $5 short of matching our biggest sales day in 17 years. Over 150 people enjoyed breakfast and raised $450 for the local Salvation Army. Truck and trailer loads of produce and plants headed to homes throughout southwest Missouri – and Kansas and Oklahoma. The Granny Chicks regaled us, so much so that I have booked them again for this Saturday (5/14). And, as it turned out, there was no need for trepidation. But it was pretty thrilling to me to have 1,500 people come enjoy the market and find so many things that they wanted.

Tuesday we’re open from 4 to 7 and Stewart’s Bakery and Carmine’s Pizza will serve supper. The Pommerts will play.

On Thursday we start our Free Kids Meals. It is funded by the same USDA division that funds free school lunches.  The meals are organized and hosted by the market. On Thursday it is served from 11 to 1. On Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30. This Thursday the menu is hamburger, roasted new potatoes and strawberries and cream. And, yes, the potatoes and strawberries will be fresh from local farms.
There are no income or residency requirements and anyone 18 years of age or younger is welcome to eat.

Adults can enjoy a meal from Carmine’s Pizza and Stewart’s Bakery on Tuesdays and from a variety of vendors on Thursdays.  This Thursday will be SWEET! with gourmet hot dogs, cupcakes and ice cream and Granny Shaffers with catfish and potato wedges and Thai wraps.

We have a professional team of cooks lined up to prepare the meals but are looking for volunteers to help with set up, serving and take down. If you or your organization would like to volunteer, please give me a call at 417 483-8139. We’ll be serving on Tuesdays and Thursday until school starts again in mid-August.

Another fun activity coming up will be on Thursday, May 26. At 7 pm the market will host its first Twilight Tunnel Walk at the Winter Production Education Center. Extension experts and experienced farmers will lead walks through the center’s two high tunnels which are planted with tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant and peppers. Folks can also take a peek at the fields of the Yang Farm where the center is located. We’ll have a “walk-around” supper available:  hot dog, chips and drink for $4 and brat, chips and drink for $5. The Center is located at 1213 Route U, Rocky Comfort. Give me a call if you have trouble finding it. Sometimes GPS has trouble locating it.

We welcome a new farm to the market tomorrow – Roffmann Farms of Oronogo.  That name may ring familiar to long time customers. Roffmann Farms near Carthage was for about our first five years a core vendor at the market and Pete Roffmann is son to that farming family. Pete has his own farm and has two special qualities the market was looking for. He farms as chemical free as possible and hopes to go completely organic and both he and his wife speak Spanish. We have been looking for eight years for a Spanish-speaking vendor so that is a big bonus for us. But frankly, Pete is such an excellent farmer with a heart for quality, healthy food and for feeding the community that I would have found a way to bring him into the market even though space is very limited. And he was so eager to get in that he agreed to set up in the middle aisle if need be. You might say we’re a bit of a mutual admiration society, Pete and the market.  (That's Pete on his first day at the market on Saturday.) 

I’m told by people who know that we have the highest quality produce and best growers in all of Southwest Missouri. Life is good, folks. Come enjoy it and support these farmers who work so hard to bring their best to our community. See you at the market!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 5/6/16

We’re gearing up for one of the best Saturdays of the year. What fun tomorrow will be!  The pavilion
will be packed with almost 40 vendors, an amazing amount of produce and flowers from end to end. Since Mother’s Day is Sunday, folks will be snapping up those beautiful hanging baskets and handcrafted planters overflowing with flowers. Others will buy something sewn like tea towels and hot pads from Edith or jewelry or other pretties from Rebecca. We’ll have baked goods, jams and jellies, freshly roasted coffee beans, kettle corn, Rada utensils and much more to please Mom.

The Granny Chicks will be playing and the Webb City chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star is serving breakfast. All profits will go to the local Salvation Army. Meal and music run from 9 to 11, while the market is open from 9 to noon.

It’s the first Saturday of the month, so that means the streetcar will give free rides during market. Board at the depot west of the pavilion.

Produce at the market?  Well, it is strawberry season and we’re expecting several hundred quarts of local strawberries tomorrow. We also have loads of greens, broccoli, high tunnel tomatoes, green onions, kohlrabi, beets, radishes, carrots, green garlic, cut herbs, and more. There’ll also be milk and goat cheese, eggs, and raw food bars, frozen tamales and vanilla. 

The fun continues on Tuesday when we’re open from 4 to 7 pm. Stewart’s Bakery will serve Chicken and Noodles with mashed potatoes and green beans for $6 or chili with beans for $5. Carmine’s Woodfired Pizza will bake to order. The Pommerts will play. 

On Thursday Scott Eastman plays. Harv’s BBQ and M & M Bistro serve lunch. Extension will create and serve Fruity Kale Smoothies. We’re open from 11 to 2 on Thursdays.

Next Saturday we celebrate Birds, Bees and Butterflies with the Audubon Society. Our farmers have been growing plants that butterflies love to give away to our customers. Hopefully the endangered Monarch butterflies will find refuge as they wing their way through Jasper County in the coming years. We’ll also have seeds for folks for folks to plants as well.

My queen of crafts, Lisa Sweet, is creating all sorts of photo props – butterfly head bands, blue bird wands, no telling what fun things she’ll come up with. You’ll want to pose the kids among the birds, bees and butterflies.

Of special interest to many – Amos Apiaries will be at the market with honey next Saturday!

It’s time to make the market a habit if you haven’t already. We promise you an experience worth your time, rain or shine. See you at the market!