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!