Thursday, February 23, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 2/24-17

Yes, this crazy weather is supposed to dump frigid air on us this weekend. Thank goodness for our enclosed market and big heaters. (Thank you, City of Webb City!) We’ll be firing the heaters up early tomorrow so the pavilion is comfy when we open at 9.

The Kids Garden Club is back in action tomorrow and they are planting tiny gardens with tiny seeds.  Master Gardeners Eric and Debbie will lead the children in making egg carton gardens, planting radish, spinach and lettuce seed. You will be amazed at how small those seeds are. The club meets in the center section of the pavilion and it will be come and go throughout the morning - and free.

Breakfast is biscuit and gravy, eggs, hash brown casserole, and a choice of sausage or bacon. Coffee or juice is 50 cents. Stewart’s Bakery will have spaghetti and meat balls with a hot roll for take away or eat in for $5.

Richard Hugh Roberts will perform from the Great American Songbook, favorites from the great musicals and performers of the past.

We’ll have seven farmers tomorrow, along with bakers, jam and jelly makers, and lots of other excellent vendors. We’re expecting four farms with eggs so we should have plenty. (Shhh, this is a bit of a secret, but Penn Acres is bringing duck eggs. Supply is limited now but should grow as all the ducks begin laying.)

We’ve had four full days of workshops and conferences in the last two weeks. And it’s been hard to sit inside with the weather so nice. In fact, I had a two hour planning meeting with my horticulture friends from Extension on Wednesday afternoon and we held it outside!  It really only needed an hour and a half but it was so beautiful we lingered. Our topic was developing a grant application for an idea inspired by George Washington Carver’s Jessup Wagons. Carver designed a mini-Agriculture School that traveled  (pulled by a horse) to the farms. If successful, we’re going to be relying on our trucks and cars, but the concept is the same. We want to build kits themed on protected growing (low tunnels and caterpillar tunnels), irrigation, pesticide/spraying, and on technology – yes, we want to teach our farmers how drones, and other technologies, can save them time and money. The kits will go on farm visits and also be used in workshops.  (Completely off the subject, that's a photo of Joe Palmer's birdhouses.  He has them at the market for only $8 each.)

I know you’ve heard it before, but University of Missouri and Lincoln University Extension have been essential partners in training our farmers to be successful growers of top quality products. These kits, if funded, will provide tools to continue and expand on those efforts. Much of the training we do is in a classroom. That’s a beginning but hands-on training will solidify the knowledge shared. 

There was a time not so long ago that small and medium sized farms seemed on the way to extinction in our country. That trend has been reversed – partly because many in today’s generation are keen to be farmers, partly because there is a much stronger demand for local foods and support for local farmers and, in our case, partly because Extension and the market has teamed together to provide the best agricultural knowledge to our farmers. 

And when I say the best, I mean the best. We are fortunate to have a tremendous team of educators/mentors in Extension in southwest Missouri and also we have brought in some of the top experts in winter production and food safety. Even now we are working on a tomato conference with the one of the country’s top tomato experts for this summer. So three cheers for Extension and for our farmers who are always ready to learn more – even when it takes them from the farm in beautiful weather.

Brave the cold tomorrow. The sunny days have made the high tunnels exploded with beautiful produce that you can enjoy all week. It is amazing how long the market greens, when properly stored, last. If you buy enough they should take you clear through the week. 

See you at the market!

Friday, February 17, 2017

News from the Market - 2-17-17

It’s going to be another beautiful day Saturday at the Webb City Farmers Market.  The pavilion will be full of good things this Saturday from 9 to noon in the pavilion at the Main Street entrance to King Jack Park.

Breakfast is biscuit and gravy, sausage, eggs, hash brown casserole for $5.  Coffee or juice is 50 cents.  Stewart’s Bakery will have two oven roasted chicken legs with a hot roll for take away or eat in for $5.  The Pommerts will fill the market with soft rock, jazz and classical guitar.

The market will be filled with fresh, local produce, baked goods, including gluten-free, jams, jellies, raw food bars, kettle corn, pork, beef, lamb and chicken, handcrafted soaps, sewn goods, balms, jewelry and glass art.  Cook's Berry Junction will be at the market with the last of his specialty honey.  Our customers have such an appetite for honey that it does not take long for a beekeeper's supply to be exhausted.  If you know of a local beekeeper, please let us know.  It will probably take five or even ten to replace the amount of honey that Amos Apiary brought to the market before retirement.

Thanks to support from Wholesome Wave and Fair Food Network, the market matches food stamp purchases with up to $25 in match tokens good from fruits and vegetables at each market.  For details, go to the information table at the market. The market is part of a national research project to determine the effectiveness of matching food stamps at the market.  Does it impact, in a good way, the diets of our low income neighbors?  In order to determine this, our food stamp customers can take part in a monthly survey which will go through at least April.  They can sign up to receive the questions once a month and as a thank you many receive bonus fruit and veggie tokens.  If you are, or know of, a food stamp customer, be sure to come by the market to sign up for the survey. 

We’re open Saturday year-round from 9 to noon. The Webb City Farmers Market is a producer-only market. It is open, rain or shine but not when the roads are dangerous with ice, in the pavilion east of the Main Street entrance to King Jack Park. Sales and setbacks begin at opening. The market accepts SNAP (food stamps), debit and credit cards.  For information, call 417 483-8139.  Music at the market is underwritten by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 2-10-17

The Kids Garden Club is back in action tomorrow and they are talking BUGS!  Master Gardeners Eric and Debbie will lead the children in a game of Good Bugs, Bad Bug and I think it will be an eye opening experience.  Don’t worry, they are not using actual bugs, just pictures, but even adults will find it illuminating because they are going to teach kids what good bugs look like before they mature.  You will be surprised how much they change.  That’s a lady bug?!  Then the kids will be able to make a lady bug magnet or color a red balloon to look like a lady bug.   The club will meet in the center section of the pavilion and it will be come and go throughout the morning - and free.
Stewart’s Bakery is adding another choice to their breakfast menu.  They will have their giant cinnamon rolls and their traditional breakfast of biscuit and gravy, sausage, scrambled eggs and hash brown casserole but tomorrow you can get chicken fried steak instead of sausage for only $1 more ($6 instead of $5 for the regular breakfast). 

The bakery will also have goulash for eat-in or take out.  A pint of goulash with a roll to go is $5.
Scott Eastman takes the market stage.

Hillside Farm from Carthage will be at the market with their elephant garlic.  We’ll have eight other farmers there, along with bakers, jam and jelly makers, and lots of other excellent vendors like seamstress Edith Bayless.

We’re gearing up for our Winter Production Conference on Monday and Tuesday.  We have farmers coming from as far away as Wisconsin and the Texas panhandle, which is not surprising given that our presenters are some of the rock stars of winter production.  I have been asking Sandy and Paul Arnold to come from their farm in upstate New York for 5 years and this year they said “yes”!  They probably want to see what all the fuss is about.

We don’t do the conference to bring farmers in from far away, though we’re happy to have them.  We do it so our farmers get the benefit of the best training available.  And it certainly shows at the market.  We are between seasons for tomatoes, but if you’re looking for greens of many kinds, radishes, beets, green onions, lemon grass, and more, you will find them at the market tomorrow.  Come load up with fresh for the week.

It’s expected to be a beautiful day.  Start it out at the market!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Upcoming farmer training opportunities!

 Midwest Winter Production Conference
 Monday and Tuesday, February 13 and 14

The Webb City Farmers Market and its partners are excited to have recruited top winter producer educators for this conference.  A master class for the experienced winter grower, a top notch introduction for novices, this conference is one of the best we've
had the privilege of hosting.  The Farm Visit which concludes the conference will be to Oakwoods Farm. For details and a registration form, click here.

Scaling Up Your Farm Operation
& Writing a Successful Specialty Crops Grant Application

Thursday, February 16, from 10 to 2.  Registration deadline - February 14.
Cost - $10 includes lunch.

Planning to scale up your farm operation requires much more than just ordering more from the seed catalog. This workshop will cover what you should consider from crop selection through labor and management to risk assessment and marketing.

Scaling up may lead you to innovative projects that could be shared. If so, you will want to be ready to write a successful Specialty Crops Grant application. This workshop will provide you with skills for grant writing in general as well as for the specialty crop grant which is awarded by the Missouri Department of Agriculture for individual farmers and organizations seeking to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the state.  Specialty crops include fruits and vegetables, nuts, herbs, spices, honey, flowers and nursery plants. Winning applications will focus on education and research of benefit to the entire specialty crops industry.  For details, click here.

Food Safety from Farm to Market based on the new federal FSMA requirements, this full day course is taught by Extension.  Cost of $5 covers lunch.  Registration is required.  This course is required for all vendors at the market who grow and sell edible produce.

  • Food Safety Training in Hmong, Wednesday, February 15.  Contact Shon 417 846-3946 or Abby 417 389-4103 for details and to register
  • Food Safety Training in English, Wednesday, February 22, 9:30 to 4:30, at the Webb City Library, 101 South Liberty. Contact Eileen to register - 417 483-8139 or

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 2-3-17

Steak Pizzaiola anyone?  
The engaging, passionate and effusive Chuck Lonardo is demonstrating Steak Pizzaiola at the market tomorrow. It will feature meat from Sunny Lane Farm and peppers from Green’s Greenhouse. I guarantee you will be both entertained and delighted.

Another treat in store is chili for Super Bowl Sunday. Linda Stewart (aka Stewart’s Bakery) is selling it for take-out by the pint, quart and gallon. Now, this was new to me, but there are folks around here who think you should have a cinnamon roll to cap off your chili. (Personally, I need no excuse at all to have a cinnamon roll.)  Apparently, the Carl Junction schools always serve that combo. So Linda is making up a big batch of her cinnamon rolls and will sell them singly, in pairs or by the half dozen tomorrow. Of course, you don’t have to wait for the Super Bowl. You can enjoy the chili and cinnamon roll right at the market as well as a breakfast of biscuit and gravy, sausage, scrambled eggs and hash brown casserole.

Want to keep up with the bakery?  Search for “Stewarts Bakery” on facebook.

William Adkins takes the market stage. At 10 am Andrew McGowan and Sam Burnside perform a bit of their preshow for "Love Letters" which will be on February 11 at Joplin Little Theatre. "Love Letters" stars our very own volunteer cart driver De Hunt and his talented wife Gwen.

We should have lots of lovely fresh produce. Oakwoods had wheat grass last week and lots of other beautiful greens. It is a great time of year to load up on beautiful tender lettuces. 

I got to visit Oakwoods Farm this week in preparation for our Winter Production Conference coming up on February 13 and 14. Oakwoods will be the site of our farm visit. In past conferences we’ve visited Braker Berry Farm, Greens Greenhouse and Garden, and Center Creek Farm where we saw a variety of winter production structures and activities. Oakwoods will be equally educational with its two low tech high tunnels in full production, its seed starting greenhouse, post production space and dual cooling storage spaces. We’ll also be learning about field production and protection during the winter and get lessons on the hand tools they use as well as their value-added production (in layman’s terms – how they make their chili seasoning). It will be the perfect way to end what we think is going to be our best conference yet. 

But back to tomorrow - we’re expecting ten farmers with a wide variety of local produce and five ranchers with eggs, pork, beef, chicken and lamb. Penn Acres even had duck eggs last week. We also expect to have freshly roasted coffee beans, raw food bars, pecans, jams and jellies, good-for-you handcrafted cracker, kettle corn, and handmade soaps.

Last Saturday’s Kids Garden Club was a big hit. About 40 children put faces on clay pots and seeded them with wheat grass. Hopefully they are now faithfully watering them and keeping them in a sunny window. The Kids Garden Club returns next week with a fun gardening activity.

Brave the cold, we’ll not only have the lights on for you, but also the big heaters. See you tomorrow.