Friday, September 22, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 9-21-17

If you have a special request or a suggestion, take it to your farmer this fall. They will be ordering seed for next year before you know it!  (Something new in recent years - Baby Ginger.  It's in season right now!)

 I, on the other hand, am thinking about the Christkindlmarket. It’s only two months away!  (I've included some photos from last year to whet your appetite.)  We expect to have a full house during November and December but that doesn’t mean we won’t find room for a few new vendors with Christmas/craft handmade items that will grace our customers’ holiday tables and trees. All our market applications are on-line at, including the Christkindlmarket. Get those in soon as we will soon be allocating space.

And you should be thinking about Saturday, October 14th, because that’s the morning that Bob Foos will take Fall Portraits At The Market. More details will follow, but put it on the calendar for now.

I am in the process of wrapping up our major federal grant. It’s been an exciting two-year project that saw us able to hire a market manager, expand, promote and better heat our winter market, repair our winter sidewalls which after four years of heavy use were in tatters, put in place our red barn and add important equipment to the kitchen. It’s been a remarkably easy grant to administer except connecting with my federal contact. She was great to work with but close to impossible to catch by phone or email – and I think she’s working way too much. The last correspondence I got from her was posted on Sunday night and I’m sure that’s not her normal working hours. Contrary to common belief, the government employees on both the federal and state level that I work with are dedicated, hard-working people.
On a more local level, what’s happening at the market this week?  On Saturday Cooking for a Cause benefits the Tri-County Cerebral Palsy Center. This special Webb City organization has been working with special needs kids for decades. As a bonus we get to hear No Apparent Reason while we eat because the director of the center is married to a member of the band. Normally we couldn’t afford this top-notch bluegrass band that is the house band for the Wood Shed in Carthage but they donate what little we can pay them to the center. Win-win!

Stewart’s Bakery will have baked ziti pasta with garlic bread for $6, eat-in or take-out.
Tuesday Just Jake and Corky are on the market stage. Stewart’s Bakery will have both a full and a light supper.

At every market we have lots of fall decorations – mums, celosia, pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and colors, and corn stalks. (And LOTS of green beans!)  There will be lots of produce, both summer and fall crops, including apples. And thanks to finally after a two-year drought we should have honey at every market. The demand for honey is so great that it takes four honey businesses to keep us in a steady sweet supply. If one particular apiary is your favorite just keep an eye on the market’s Facebook page to see when they are coming. Location may be a factor in who you buy honey from, though many of the hives are on farms scattered throughout the region. Our newest honey farm, Helm Family Farms, is based near Seneca. They will be at the market on Saturday.

It’s another sweet day at the market. See you there!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 9/13/17

Since the column ran, we've got more news about Saturday's market.  We'll have apples!  Our newest vendor Allpin Orchard near Stark City will have newly picked apples for your fall pleasure!  We'll also have honey from Apple Road Farm.  And lots of other good things..... read on!  I've included some photos of the orchard inspection to whet your appetite.

September is the season of festivals. And Saturdays are the day of choice for almost all of them. If you miss the market to attend a Saturday festival, do not despair of having fresh local produce. Most of our farmers attend the Tuesday market. Oakwoods is there with the pepper roaster. E & O Produce and Braker Farms have their pumpkins, mums and celosia and Still Waters have decorative corn stalks.

Yesterday we had nine farms, plus both Sunny Lane and Madewell with meats, Harmony Hill and Stewart’s with baked goods (Stewart’s expanded their selection to include apple, cherry, and peach tartlets and apple, cherry and peach hand pies), King’s Kettle Corn with not only kettle corn, but cheesy corn, candied nuts, and other goodies.

I am going to end the column with some tidbits that you may not know, but first this is what’s on tap this week.

Saturday, The Kids Garden Club is meeting from 9 to noon at the market. Eric, our master gardener volunteer who organizes Club activities, also happens to work for Missouri American Water. And Missouri American Water is helping us learn about water this Saturday. The kids will get toy ducks and balloons.  Splash the Water Drop will be there for hugs and photos (Eric says “think lovable Disney type character”.). The kids will have a water related activity and adults can learn about protecting our watershed.

Lafayette House volunteers will serve Cooking for a Cause. This breakfast of biscuit and gravy, sausage, local tomato slices, a choice of coffee or drink sells for $3.50. Add two farm fresh eggs cooked to order for another $1.

Lafayette House is our regional shelter for women and their children escaping domestic violence. It also has an alcohol and drug rehab program for moms – and this is important, the moms can go through treatment without leaving their kids behind. Doing so for many would mean losing custody because they have no safe place to leave them.

Kids are often the women seek refuge from domestic violence. One evening I was helping at a big celebratory dinner at Lafayette House and one of the other servers came for me. (My job was supervising the servers.) A young woman had come to the entrance near the dining area rather than the front door. She had a toddler by the hand and a babe in her arms and her purse. She said “I am afraid for my children. Can I get help?”  And I said, “Yes, come in. You are all safe here.”

Lafayette House does important work. I hope you will come by and support them.
Stewart’s Bakery will have homemade (well, actually market-kitchen made) chicken noodle soup for $5.

Enjoy breakfast and then take home lunch or supper. Or eat early at home, made a donation at Cooking for a Cause and sit down to a lovely lunch at the market.

Richard Hugh Roberts will be on the market stage from 9 to 11. This versatile musician often plays from the Great American Songbook but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t throw in some other genres.

Honestly, every Saturday market is pretty festive, so pack a cooler and stop by on your way to the other festivals. We even have free ice packs. Just ask at Sunny Lane Farm or the information desk. But if you just can’t make it Saturday, put Tuesday on your schedule. Or better yet, come both days.

This Tuesday the Pommerts take the stage. Stewart’s Bakery will have chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes and green beans for $6, as well as a bowl of chicken and noodles for $5.

Now back to those tidbits.

1) Celosia – it’s an ancient plant that is new to the market. Owen of E & O Produce thought it would make a good fall plant and he’s right. The second time he brought them Tami Fredrickson who raises hundreds of mums bought two to give a friend. Now that’s a testimonial. Celosia is a member of the amaranth family and so the leaves, tender stems and even young flowers are edible and used with other vegetables in soups and stews. The leaves can also be boiled or steamed and served as a side dish. But it is the brilliant red, orange or yellow blooms that make it a perfect fall decoration. The name comes from an ancient Greek word meaning burning and refers to the flame-like flower heads.

2) King’s Kettle Corn – did you know that the King refers to Jesus?  Owner Howard considers his business part of his ministry.  His approach reminds me of the quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: "Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary." Howard witnesses with a smile and kindness. I have often seen Howard at carnivals where he also sets up, befriending the “carnies”, the workers who set up and run the carnival rides and who often work for low pay in poor conditions and live on the fringes of society. Howard will sit and talk during breaks, and perhaps more importantly listen, showing with his actions that he cares. Yep I work with pretty special people.

3) Eric, our master garden who created and manages the Kids Garden Club, can once a year secure a gift for any non-profit where he volunteers a certain number of hours. Thanks to him, the market recently received a gift of $1,000 from his employer, American Water. Really a double gift – Eric’s time, creativity and dedication and American Water’s dollars to support the market’s activities.

4) And I know this is the one you were waiting for. Leonora Maeve Richardson-Smith was born Thursday. When she gets older, she can choose which of her elegant names to go by, until then she is Nora. Mother Emily and she are well. She is a lovely little granddaughter. (That's big brother Wyatt meeting Nora for the first time.)

To adapt a TV show tagline “There are eight million stories at the market. These have been four of them.”  Well, maybe not eight million, but a lot. Create some stories of your own. See you at the market.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 9/6/17

Don’t forget – no market tomorrow. We have finished the Thursday markets until next spring. I would say that I’ll enjoy the time off but I was taking off regardless – my daughter Emily is expecting her baby daughter tomorrow so I have abandoned the market for the duration and am in Colorado awaiting night duty.

In the meantime, the market will continue to be open on Saturdays from 9 to noon and on Tuesdays from 4 to 7. The Tuesday market will shut down either the end of September or the end of October. It all depends on the produce supply and the customer support. I’m hoping for an October finish because that gives our farmers and other vendors five more market days of income – and we’d end on Halloween which is always fun. We get our share of characters, mostly children but not all, on Halloween.

As I was preparing to leave for Colorado I made a list for the market manager of jobs I usually do for the market. Kitchen work – how to wash the dirty linens and floor mopping schedule – basically I’m the scullery maid, garden work – how to take care of the kids garden and the kids, and market work. I keep the writing tasks while I’m gone since it is so easy to do from a distance. I am in fact at this moment typing (or keyboarding) this into my office computer in Webb City even though I am sitting in Colorado. And writing this column and the press releases gives me some satisfaction that my parents didn’t waste their money on my journalism degree. 

As you may have heard, Phil and I plan to move closer to our children in about 16 months. The move will be strongly influenced by my mother’s situation so our deadline is fluid, but the market board, staff and volunteers are working towards a smooth transition. I was really pleased when I went through my list of duties at the market. 

Basically the only task that I routinely do now is the facebook posting. I’d say we’re pretty close to a smooth transition on that front, especially since some of our volunteers do better facebook postings than I do.

So enjoy those improved postings while I’m off enjoying grandson Wyatt and the new grandgirl.

And enjoy fall which came right on schedule last Saturday. It was like someone flipped a switch, or indeed turned the page on the calendar. Suddenly the market is full of fall flowering plants, pumpkins, winter squash and other fall crops. Green beans are in abundance which is typical of fall. I love green beans but I am sure glad I don’t have to pick them. That is back breaking work. 

Come enjoy the “fruits” of our farmers’ labors. The tables are loaded with your favorite summer and fall crops. 

Saturday Stewart's Bakery will serve chicken tortilla soup for eat-in or take-out, $5 a pint.
The Sassy Salad Gal has Greek salad for $6, berry parfaits and fresh fruit cups for $3 each and fresh fruit juice for $2.

Cooking for a Cause is biscuit and gravy, sausage, tomato slices and coffee or oj for $3.50. Two farm fresh eggs cooked to order are $1. The breakfast benefits The Boys and Girls Club this Saturday.
The Granny Chicks liven up the market stage.

On Tuesday we’ll be open from 4 to 7. Stewart’s Bakery serves catfish, mac and cheese, and Cole slaw for $6, as well as pinto beans with corn bread for $5.  I recommend having the catfish at the market and loading up on the beans for meals through the week.

We welcome Scott Eastman back to the market stage.

It’s fall at the market, full of its own beauty and wonderful choices. The traditional time of harvest, what better time to connect to the good things life has to offer? At the market you connect to that tradition, to your farming neighbors, to healthy choices, both for nutrition and for well-being, to good music and good people. Whether I’m there or not, we, the vendors, the volunteers and staff, and the customers can keep the market a welcoming, happy place for generations to come, starting with our own.

And that sense of welcome doesn’t end at the market. We were delighted to welcome some 200 first graders to the Kids Community Garden last Wednesday. And they were absolutely delighted to discover the seed potatoes they had planted last spring had produced loads of potatoes. Because the potatoes were planted under a heavy mulch of straw many could be found just by pushing aside the straw. Such excitement!

In the afternoon we had 29 middle schoolers come to garden. They were a marvelous group of kids, polite, interested, hard working and attentive to details. We had a wide ranging discussion about gardening, harvested the garden which produced enough for all to take a bag of veggies homes, opened up  a butternut squash to see what was inside and discussed how to bake it. 

Tomorrow we hope they all return to help plant a cover crop where the ground is ready to tuck away for winter. There will be some weeding to do and no doubt some more garden talk. Since the garden was thoroughly harvested last week and the fall plantings are not in full production yet, our farmers have donated vegetables for the children to take home. I love the people I work with. 

Here’s to a great fall season for the students in the garden, which is the best garden we’ve had in the 10 years we’ve operated it, and for everyone else at the market. Happy Fall!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 8-30-17

Monday is Labor Day and we will celebrate Saturday with our annual Facebook parade of photos of those who labor at the market. Our volunteer Karen photographs the workers at each booth, as well as the market volunteers,  staff, and musician. 

Of course, we can’t photograph everyone who labors at or for the market in one day. Cooking for a Cause typically involves over 150 volunteers every year and we have many who volunteer with the free kids meal or at the information desk or help with set up or take down. We have over 20 musicians who play. Our master gardeners who run the kids garden club and who help in our Kids Community Garden won’t be there, nor will the Extension specialists and educators who work with our farmers and customers. Or all the city employees and council who include the market in their efforts. So we take this opportunity now to honor their labor and the impact they have on the market. 

Also behind the scenes is volunteer Silas who is developing a software program for the market to help us track all the market details like what vendors will be at the market on what day, how much each vendor sold, and how much they should be reimbursed for the three different tokens and the WIC coupon the market accepts. And the afore-mentioned Karen, plus Janet and Samantha who labor over inputting all that vendor data. Now that’s a job I don’t want!

As you relax on Monday, take a moment to remember the farmers who will be laboring in the fields.

Tomorrow is our last Thursday market. We will continue the Tuesday market through September and possibly October depending on the weather and whether the produce is still pouring in and on the number of customers.

Stewart’s Bakery will serve a choice of hamburger or hot dog with chips for $5, fried chicken salad and fruit salad for $5 each.

The extension nutritionists will show us how to make apple sauce.

Just Jake and Corky are on the market stage.

On Saturday Cooking for a Cause benefits We Care of the Four States food pantry. Stewart’s Bakery will have chicken and noodles with a roll for eat-in or take out, $5/pint. The Sassy Salad Gals will have BLT salad for $6, and fruit cups and berry parfaits for $3 each.

Stop by the southwest corner of the pavilion to sample Terrell Creek’s award-winning goat cheese smothered in Fair Haven’s jalapeno jam.

And you are in for a special musical experience on Saturday. Robert Bruce Scott is stopping by during his annual Midwest tour. He always comes up with something special, one year it was the music of Simon and Garfunkel, another it was all Broadway, and another it was classics from everywhere and every time. It helps that Robert can sing in 34 different languages, including Ewok and Klingon. 

He’s tapping into Sci-Fi this year with his theme – KEYBORG. For those who are not fans of Star Trek the Next Generation, the borg, who thankfully are fictional characters, are part carbon-based, as in human, and part machine. Robert describes his solo performance as being on guitar, mandolin and a small mountain of keyboards. I think the implication is that he will be one with his instruments. I doubt my description is adequate, just come enjoy.

The Kids Community Garden is back in action today. Students are walking two blocks from first grade to see the potatoes dug up. They planted them last spring as kindergarteners. We’re hoping for some impressive spuds but frankly with all the rain we’ve had the potato section looks like a very healthy crop of weeds. We’ll see if there’s treasure under those weeds.  (Yes!  There were potatoes and it was very exciting!)

In the afternoon the middle schoolers will have their first turn at the garden. Their task is to clear the east third of the garden where the potatoes were dug so it can be tilled. Next Wednesday after school they will sow a cover crop there and learn about the benefits of taking care of your soil. There’s lots to be learned in a garden – like discipline, planning, stewardship, and cooperation.

We’re looking forward to a wonderful market week. I hope you will join us.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column 8-23-17

This cool rainy weather should give the fields new life. Usually this time of year everything is burnt up. Hopefully, if the crops don’t wash away, we will have a fabulous fall crop. And, yes, fall is just around the corner. John Pate and I were discussing just today that the seasons, they are changing. Next week may well be the last week for peaches, however the apples are coming in.

But don’t expect either tomorrow as Pates does not come to the Thursday market in August. We should have plenty of other farmers, including our biggest, Braker Berry Farm, Harmony Hill and E & O Produce, as well as at least three other farms. Check the market facebook page for Thursday’s details. We have purposely made Thursday a smaller, quieter market this year so folks didn’t have to fight traffic on at least one day of the week. The choices are still excellent. We usually have most things you’d find on Tuesday, just without the crowd. 

Stewart’s Bakery will serve Stuffed green pepper, potato and veggies for $6, a fruit cup or chef salad for $5 each. The Granny Chicks will entertain.

Saturday is a BIG day at the market. Chuck Lonardo brings his special flair to the Market cooking demonstration table where he will demonstrate “Veggies Three Ways 2.0”. It involves cabbage, squash, zucchini, basil and potatoes, the market barbecue grill and butane burners. Be prepared for a show, an education and a tasty treat.

The Tri-State Iris Society is on tap to have their annual bulb sale at the market Saturday. They will be north of the market, either under pop-ups by our new barn or under the kids’ tent. They will sell bulbs from 9 to 11, then at 11 they will have an auction of the remaining bulbs plus some special bulbs saved especially for the auction.

The Kids Garden Club meets Saturday in the south end of the pavilion. They will be making flower “spinners”, patterned on an old fashioned children’s toy.

Cooking for a Cause benefits the Ozark Gateway Audubon Society. Biscuit and gravy, sausage, farm fresh tomato slices and coffee or orange juice for $3.50. Add two eggs cooked to order for another $1.

Stewart’s Bakery will serve Potato Soup. The Sassy Salad Girls will have Smokehouse Salad, berry parfaits, fruit cups and fresh juice.

And we will be loaded with vendors. E Farms who normally sells on Tuesdays will be there with their exceptional granola. Garden ‘n’ Goats will have handcrafted soaps made with goat’s milk. Marlee’s Creamery will be back with raw local milk. MoBlooms will have beautiful bouquets. And there will be freshly roasted coffee beans, peppers - sweet and hot - roasted right at the market, baked goods of all descriptions, jams and jellies, meats, kettle corn, and loads of local fresh produce.

On Tuesday Stewart’s Bakery is serving chicken fried chicken, mashed potato and green beans for $6, polish sausage on a bun with baked beans for $5 and chef salad and a fruit cup for $5 each.
Rob Pommert will be on the market stage Tuesday.

I hope you’ll join us at the market for good food and a good time.