Thursday, June 9, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 6-10-16

Mmmmm, I just finished my first bowl of blueberries this year. Yes, I could get used to this, but I won’t because blueberry season is fleeting. Anytime there are blueberries left at the end of a market day, I load up to gorge on them fresh or freeze them for snacking later. I think I like frozen blueberries even better than fresh. A word to the wise, there were blueberries left on Thursday so you might want to make a trip to the market on Thursdays. Almost all our growers come to the weekday markets as well as to Saturday’s but traffic and supply is better during the week – even with an average of 165 kids enjoying their lunch in the market tent.  That's Zack Lee saying hi before he enjoys his meal (he said the salad would be great - the lettuce was donated by his family farm).

The growing season is moving fast, in part because we had such a mild spring. It seems like everything is coming in early. This week I saw bell peppers, even a few red ones. The first of the eggplant has arrived and, of course, we have a plentiful supply of zucchini, yellow squash and cucumbers. The new potatoes and green beans are coming in by the bushel. Mabel with Harmony Hill just messaged me to say they were harvesting six rows of green beans for the Saturday market. Their rows are verrrrry long. We should have LOTS of green beans Saturday.

We expect see the first of the sweet corn next week and that’s very early indeed. Normally we hope for sweet corn by July 4th. This year Pete Rothmann did an early planting on black plastic mulch which warmed the soil and the corn really took off. 

Jim Agee brought in a good supply of black raspberries on Tuesday and we’ve seen some blackberries too. My farmers tell me that it should be a banner year for blackberries this year and they should start pouring in about 10 days. And that fruit which shall not be named should start appearing in the next week or so.

You will notice tomorrow that Cooking for a Cause has changed locations. We are so packed with vendors on Saturdays that we have put up a canopy on the north end of the pavilion and moved Cooking for a Cause into it. That bumps Kings Kettle Corn a little further north so be sure to look for them. 

Why are we so packed?  Well, we’ve brought in two new farmers for the first time in a couple of years. It’s hard for us to find room, but it was time. The market already has a reputation for being very difficult to get in to, for good reason, but we don’t want to be seen as an exclusive club. Our goal is to be the best market we know how to be, not to horde the business for only our current vendors. So we’re crowding in to make the market better. We’re also making room for a few non-farm vendors, because who can say no to fried pies and fruit smoothies? The fried pies we have on Saturdays have sold like gang busters and, honestly, they are delicious. We have a new vendor, B Kool Frozen Fruit Whips, who just started this week. Owner Kristine McCulley tasted these frozen fruit “smoothies” in Hawaii and knew they would be perfect for the market. She ordered the special machine that whips them from frozen fruit to smoothie, called the market and set up shop yesterday. Made of 100% fruit, they are a good-for-you guilt-free refreshing treat.

Another treat for tomorrow?  Amos Apiaries will be at the market with local raw honey!

Tomorrow Cooking for a Cause will benefit Lafayette House, our regional domestic violence shelter. JR Sampson and Friends perform on the market stage.

On Tuesday, Marshall Mitchell performs kids songs and he’ll even have a coloring table to them to enjoy while they sing along. Marshall is a wonderful entertainer, so wonderful that he’s rarely going to be at the market this year. He’s just gotten too popular!

The free kids supper on Tuesday is mac ‘n’ cheese, ham, tomato & cucumber salad with fresh dill and milk. Parent Link will have children’s activities at the tent. Parent Link is a University of Missouri project whose goal is to effectively engage families in reducing adverse childhood experiences and to promote optimal development. In other words, to promote healthy families with children.

Carmine’s Pizza is taking Tuesday off but you can be sure that Stewart’s Bakery will have some tasty choices for supper.

On Thursday the free kids lunch is smoked pork tenderloin, market veggies, biscuit, and milk. Granny Shaffers will be on hand with their fried catfish and potatoes and with their Thai wraps. Stewart’s Bakery will have lunch available too. Scott Eastman will play. University of Missouri Extension will have a good-for-you recipe to share.

I’m pretty sure it’s time for you to put the Tuesday and/or Thursday market on your weekly schedule. You know you’re going to eat your way through those blueberries and need to restock!  See you at the market.