Friday, June 24, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 6/24/16

Blackberries at the Agees

We’re expecting a full house tomorrow – full of vendors and full of good things. Just between you and me, the peaches are here – but still not enough to last the full market. The field tomatoes are just beginning to come in and I saw a few cantaloupe at yesterday’s market!  Yes, good times are ahead.

We’ve been making farm visits the last few weeks and my, things are dry. It is amazing to me how we can be too wet and then too dry in just a week’s time. The spring was so wet that it was hard for the farmers to get in to plant. Walter of Harmony Hill said they finally just planted the onions in the mud. The onions didn’t mind, but I bet that was no fun. In fact, if size is any indication, I think the onions liked it. Mabel brought in some enormous ones this week. Sadly it doesn’t always turn out that way. Owen from E & O Produce said he missed at least one planting of melons because it was just too wet to get in the field so he’ll have a gap in harvesting, probably in August. 
High tunnel tomatoes at Harmony Hill

Owen must have been pretty pleased on Tuesday, though, because he told me twice that he had picked his first three cantaloupe. I asked him after the second time why he hadn’t brought them and he gave me that mischievous look of his and said they weren’t making it off the farm. I hope he’ll be willing to part with a few tomorrow.

Tomorrow Cooking for a Cause benefits Greyhound Pets of America. This is a group that finds homes for retired racing dogs. Breakfast is biscuits and gravy, sausage, eggs cooked to order and coffee or orange juice, plus slices of market tomatoes. Tim Green donates the tomatoes; he calls them his “not-ready-for-prime-time tomatoes”. In other words, they’re not pretty, but they sure are tasty.

Larry and Mary Mayfield play on Saturday. They do high-energy bluegrass and gospel. You’ll be tapping your toes for sure. Music and meal both go from 9 to 11. The market is open till noon.
On Tuesday Tony Bergkoetter returns to the market stage with his folksy tunes. The kids meal on Tuesday will be baked tacos, cherry tomatoes and bell pepper slices. 

On Thursday, the Pommerts return with their soft pop, jazz and classical guitar. The kids meal is sloppy Joe and market veggies (or maybe fruit if the melons start rolling in big time).

We are continuing to serve about 150 kids at each meal. Our volunteer crews have been fantastic, including kids working with a parent or junior high and high school kids volunteering on their own. Special thanks to the wonderful Ann Foos who rounds up folks to help when I’m short on a full crew.

As we do the kids meals, the kids are learning about new veggies and we’re learning more about what they like. Thursday’s meal went over like gangbusters – rice (that good for you speckled kinds not the white rice), chicken, and the cherry tomatoes and slices of green bell pepper was a favorite. Almost none ended up in the trash. On the other hand, spaghetti and meat sauce has not proved to be a favorite, perhaps because it’s so hot. In any case, we’ll be putting that menu aside. The July menus will go up on the market web site ( on Wednesday.

And speaking of meals, Stewart’s Bakery has been feeding us well on Tuesdays and Thursdays with a full meal and a light meal each day. On Tuesdays we also have Carmine’s Wood Fired Pizza baking to order. On Friday, Granny Shaffer’s will be back with catfish and potatoes and Thai wraps.

We continue our blackberry classes next week. On Tuesday the class starts at 7 pm and the topic will be “Slow Cooker Blackberry Recipes – Jams and Cobbler”. On Thursday, the class starts at 2 and is on Preserving Blackberries. Market Lady Carolyn Smith is leading the class which costs $8 per person. To reserve a spot, call 417 483-8139 or just stop by the information table at the market.
We’ll hold classes for the next three weeks – hopefully the blackberry season will last that long. Seems like the fruit is gone much earlier than we want. In fact, blueberry season will be ending in a couple of weeks so don’t delay in stocking the freezer.

We have had workers getting the market’s walk-in freezer and coolers ready and reliable. I dread receiving the bill (at $75 an hour and they’re on their third day. Yikes!), but I sure enjoy checking on their progress – 35 degrees is very refreshing after working a few hours in the heat. 

The moral of that story is, come out and buy lots of good things at the market. Most of our revenue comes from a percentage the vendors pay on their sales. The more our vendors sell, the more the market makes and the market is going to have to make a LOT to pay that bill. When you shop at the market you not only support the vendors, you also support the market and we thank you.

See you at the market!