Friday, January 27, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 1/27/17

This column is dedicated to Frank Reiter, our region’s biggest booster of local foods. Frank was also a great supporter of the market and he would tell me now – talk about the market first. So I will.

Tomorrow we are expecting ten farms at the market and four ranchers. That’s an abundance you wouldn’t normally expect at the end of January but what is even more surprising is that many tables will be overflowing with produce. Oakwoods Farm in particular has a high bursting at the seams with beautiful greens and other good things.

We start our Kids Garden Club tomorrow. In the pavilion center children can paint a face on a clay pot, then add soil and wheat grass seeds. At home in a sunny window, the seeds will sprout into “hair” to complete the look. It’s free. We expect to have garden activities for kids twice a month through March. 

Stewart’s Bakery will serve breakfast. They will have pinto beans and ham and cornbread for eating in or taking out. Linda is also introducing a new product – fresh salsa. One pint costs $5.
Scott Eastman will take the market stage.

OK, Frank, that’s what’s happening.

Frank first came to my attention when he discovered garlic scapes at the market. I didn’t know what they were. He did and was delighted to find them. He proceeded to write about his discovery in his blog, Frank About Food. A foodie friendship was born. I asked permission to steal his blog story, to which he agreed. He also agreed to do the first of many cooking demonstrations at the market. He educated me and others on how to use the scapes and, perhaps more importantly, he taught me how and when they should be harvested which I then shared with my growers. The abundance of high quality scapes in the spring is entirely due to Frank. The customers are happy and the farmers have a new product of value. (A garlic scape is the green part that grows above the soil. It is cut off by the farmer so the garlic concentrates its energy on the bulb. Until Frank, most of our farmers just threw the scapes in the compost pile.)  That's Frank on the first day we made acquaintance at the market.

He has introduced us to many new ways to enjoy fresh produce and local meats with his cooking demonstrations at the market. He often gave us shout outs either on his facebook page or on the blog. He was a good friend to the market and a good friend to me personally. 

First Frank was known as a "Friend of the Ladies" in a nod to our Market Lady demonstration project.  Then he became a "Market Gent" and finally "The Market Dude".  That name was a perfect fit. 
He was also a good friend to the area restaurants who use local foods and a friend to our farmers and ranchers. And he died Tuesday night at the age of 42.

Frank had a genetic disease which caused parts of his body to randomly swell. It might be his face, or hands, or intestines, or as was the case this week, his throat. 

Frank’s service will be at Mason Woodard at 3 pm on Sunday, visitation begins at 1:30 pm. We will have a sympathy card at the market if you would like to sign it. There is a gofundme set up to help his wife Carey and two young sons Daniel and Ezra -

Frank was one-of-a-kind, generous, passionate, loving, fun-loving, and community-minded.  He was a full-time parent to his two boys. 

Frank will be missed.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 1/20/17

Well, as you probably guessed we ended up cancelling last week’s market. The roads in town weren’t bad but the farm roads were icy. This week is a different story and we will be at the market tomorrow with the heaters going, the tables full, the music playing, and lots of smiles. Our vendors miss the market and miss seeing their customers so they will be very glad to be back where they love to be on Saturday mornings.

Oakwoods Farm will have samples of chili seasoned with their chili seasoning. The seasoning is made right at the farm and features all natural ingredients from the farm. It’s labeled mild, but some find it hot while others find it mild, so trying a sample is the perfect way to know just how much seasoning to use.

Center Creek Farm is introducing a new product – an all micro-green mixed salad, packaged and ready to eat for $4.00, great for lunch at work or a quick addition to dinner. Make a salad for the whole family using the market’s fabulous lettuces and toss in the micro-greens for a super healthy tasty salad.

Both Center Creek Farm and Oakwoods are located on the alley side of the pavilion in the center. Don’t forget that we have closed off the south end of the pavilion, so come in the north door where the meat trailers are.
We have encouraged our vendors to think about ways to make good meals easy because time is so tight for many people. Center Creek’s new salad certainly meets that request. It’s fresh, it’s healthy, it keeps well (up to a week in the fridge) and it’s completely ready to eat. Just add your favorite dressing – owner Samantha recommends a light vinaigrette with salt and pepper – and you’re ready to eat.
I did a segment on micro-greens with Carol Parker on KSN this week and found them very appealing. They are super nutritious and so easy. Add them to salad, a taco, a sandwich, top an appetizer or entrĂ©e. What an easy way to pump up your food’s nutrition, flavor and color. What are micro-greens?  Micro-greens are harvested just after the first true leaves appear (that’s the second set of leaves). They are four to forty times more nutritious than the mature part of the plant that is eaten and while they all have a salad flavor, they also hint of that final mature part. The radish micro-green hints of a radish, the mustard is spicey, the sunflower has a bit of a nutty flavor and so forth. Both Center Creek and Oakwoods raise micro-greens. Give them a try this week.
Another soon-to-arrive easy meal is coming from Stewart’s Bakery. Owner Linda is already preparing one-dish meals for take away. In February she will begin full meal take-aways like meatloaf, oven brown potatoes and green beans with a roll or pot roast with veggies and a roll. If you like comfort food, this is going to be just what you want for Saturday lunch or dinner at home. I’ll have more details soon and if you have a favorite meal, stop by Stewart’s Bakery to make a suggestion.

Tomorrow Stewart’s Bakery will have beef stew with corn bread for eat in or take out for $5. Stewart's will also serve breakfast - biscuit and gravy, sausage, eggs, hash brown casserole for $5. Coffee or juice is 50 cents.

The Pommerts perform on the market stage.

The market farmers will have locally grown produce, as well as a variety of other offerings. There will also be baked goods, including gluten-free, jams, jellies, freshly roasted coffee beans, honey, frozen tamales, raw food bars, kettle corn, pork, beef, lamb and chicken, handcrafted soaps and balms, jewelry and glass art.

Next week we begin our children’s garden program. Be sure to bring the kids so they can paint a face on a clay pot and plant wheat seeds to grow into hair!  It’s free and fun. Scott Eastman will play and we’ll have lots of good things for you.
See you at the market!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 1-6-17

Tomorrow is the first market of 2017 and it’s going to be a cold day!  I won’t promise you that the market will be cozy, but it should be coat comfy.  Don’t let the cold keep you away.  This is the weather our farmers have been preparing for with many days of training, thousands of dollars invested in equipment and months of preparing soil, planting and tending.  Yes, they are harvesting from the high tunnels, bringing you a bounty of fresh local greens, tomatoes and much more in the depths of winter. 

The bakers have been baking, the coffee roaster roasting, the ranchers loading their freezers with pork, beef, chicken and lamb.  All our vendors have been busy preparing for tomorrow and will have their tables spread with goodness for you.  

The pinto beans went over so well last Saturday that Stewart’s Bakery is doing chicken and noodles for eat-in or take-out tomorrow.  A 1 pint container with a roll is $5.  Add some salad, greens or broccoli from our farmers and serve a delicious fresh meal to your family tomorrow night.

Stewart’s is serving a breakfast of biscuit and gravy, sausage, eggs and hash brown casserole for $5.  Coffee or juice is an extra 50 cents.  (Bummer, the price of sausage and eggs went up.)

William Adkins is taking the market stage tomorrow.  

We are expecting a cornucopia of meats - Penn Acres, Harvest Hill, Sunny Land and Madewell Pork will all be on hand.

We’re going to try to fit everyone in the center and north parts of the pavilion so enter through the north door – you’ll want to do that anyway so you can stop by Sunny Lane and Madewell’s trailers.  

Normally the trolley would run tomorrow but as you may have heard the trolley had a major breakdown at the end of December.  The streetcar is being repaired by professionals courtesy of Watco.  An industrial scale diesel engine will be installed to push the trolley.  In the past the trolley relied on a small car engine, using chains to turn the wheels.  The system was just not powerful enough to handle such a heavy vehicle.  When the improvements are completed, we will have a special Saturday morning celebration of the trolley’s 101st birthday and honor the reservations of all the folks who didn’t get to make the last Christmas run.  There will likely be extra seats so we’ll keep you posted.

Now, to give you one last peek into the people who make the market a success -  People like John Maranth of 417 Produce.  When he found last month that he had overproduced lettuce in his hydroponic greenhouse he asked me if I knew of places that could use it.  I started calling around and he delivered almost 1,000 heads – most to Crosslines, our regional food pantry, and the Webb City School District to feed the kids, as well as some to the Christmas basket programs of Central United Methodist, Emmanuel Baptist and Sacred Heart Catholic churches.  John’s generosity was the largest of the year but certainly not an isolated case.  Our farmers donate throughout the year.

Phoenix Fired Art, a pottery studio in Joplin, is a new market partner.  One of our customers  was so impressed by our matching program for food stamp customers that she suggested the market would be a good beneficiary for the studio’s annual Empty Bowls fundraiser.  In fact, after suggesting we make the contact several times without result, she just did it herself with wonderful results.  The event raised over $22,700 which will be divided between five organizations that address community hunger – Crosslines Emergency Food Pantry, Meal on Wheels, Salvation Army, Watered Garden and the market.  With our portion we plan to do a pilot program this summer providing vouchers for WIC recipients and also provide produce for the Open Hearts food pantry in Carterville.  Like all the market programs, these are win-wins – high quality fresh food for our neighbors in need and sales to support our local farmers.

Another crucial partner has been Extension, both the nutrition educators who are at the market almost every week in the summer with healthy, easy, low-cost recipes and the horticulture specialists who work with our farmers and also come to the market every month during the growing season to advise customers about plants, lawns, trees and gardens.  (left - Patrick Byers, MU Extension horticulturist visits Pates Orchard)  Lincoln University and the University of Missouri provide our market, our customers and our farmers with extensive services.  They are one reason we hear from those who should know “this market has the best quality produce in the region”.  We try, we sure do.

See you at the market!