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!