Thursday, March 30, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - March 31, 2017

Tomorrow is expected to feel like spring (maybe even summer) and that means gardeners will be eager to get into their gardens. Just in the nick of time, Tim and Vi Green are coming to the market with their healthy, sturdy tomato plants. They will have Big Boy, Better Boy, Big Beef, Roma, Jet Star and four varieties of cherry tomatoes. Other growers will have heirloom tomato varieties. 

Other plants like hanging baskets from Braker and E & O won’t be far behind. Joe Palmer spent much of the winter making his rustic planters in the form of benches, beds, wagons and more, and will soon have those at the market too. If you have something special in mind, let Joe know. 

In other words, if you need vegetable plants or flowers, check at the market. You’ll get top quality and locally grown.

Pete Roffmann returns to the market tomorrow with 50 pounds of asparagus!  The supply should get better every week because many of our farms have large asparagus beds.

Something else new tomorrow – Oakwoods will have shiitake mushrooms!

The Kids Garden Club is celebrating spring tomorrow by planting impatiens and pansies. The kids will also make a flower craft.

William Adkins will grace the market stage tomorrow. Breakfast will be biscuit and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage and hash brown casserole. Stewart’s Bakery will have honey glazed chicken thighs on rice for eat-in or take out.

The market starts its third year of matching food stamp purchases tomorrow. This program which is currently funded as a federal research project is switching over this year to funding from private foundation sources. We are excited about that because we knew from the beginning that the federal funding was tied to a short-term research project but that our low-income customers need long term access to healthy food. We will still be collecting data for the private funders but the prospects look very good for long term funding.

The match allows us to match up to $25 of food stamp tokens with up to $25 of free fruit and veggie only tokens on every market day. The research project is to determine whether offering an incentive or designating fruit and veggie only spending improves the diets of low income people. We don’t see the survey results but we do hear from our customers. 

We received a message from one of our customers last year who used the match a lot and dramatically increased the amount of fruits and vegetables in her diet. Like many of our food stamp customers, this customer has very significant health issues. Her message?  “I just got back from the doctor and I am no longer pre-diabetic!  Please let your funders know.”  And that is just one of the many celebrations the program engenders. 

Last August we had a mom who had used the match program regularly all summer. She had gotten a job and would be going off the program (high fives all around the information table at that announcement) but because getting a job ended her food stamp benefits and she wouldn’t get paid for at least two weeks after starting her new job, she had to feed herself and her young son were looking at a very lean two weeks. “Please take all the money off my food stamp card and match as much as you can.”  She said and then turned to her son “we’re going to be vegetarians this month and we’re going to love it, because we’ve learned at the market that we love our veggies, haven’t we?”
So if you or someone you know is depending on food stamps, tell them to come to the market information table and stretch their benefits to include more fruits and veggies.

And while those of us fortunate enough not to qualify for food stamps can’t take advantage of the match, we can take advantage of the health benefits that eating more fresh, local produce brings. Here’s to better health for everyone in our communities! And to Spring! 

See you at the market.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Don't Miss Out on All the Learning Opportunities Coming Up!

Check out the learning opportunities in April for growers, gardeners and the public -

Good Agricultural Practices -  6 to 7:30 pm on Tuesday, April 11, at the MU Extension office, 18728 MO-59, Neosho.

Growers who attend this class will learn that Good Agricultural Practices reduce the risk of microbial contamination to food, help ensure that your product is safe, may improve the marketability of your product, and may protect you in the event of an outbreak.

There is no fee for the class which will be from For more information, contact the Jasper County Extension Office, 417 358-2158.  This class is required to sell edible produce at the Webb City Farmers Market but is NOT a Food Safety Certification class.

Sell More at the Market Workshop - Saturday, April 15, 1 pm at the Webb City Public Library, 101 South Liberty

No charge but reservations are appreciated so enough handouts are available - call 417 499-4831 or email
(Followed by a tour of Braker Farm - see details below)

Topics -

  • How to effectively (and safely and legally) provide product samples at markets - We know that sampling at the market can increase sales and customer loyalty but it must be done right to protect you and your customers
  • Post Production Handling and Storage - How to keep your produce safe and fresh so your top quality fruits and veggies pay off
Presented by Robert Balek, horticulturist, University of Missouri Extension

Braker Berry Farm Tour - 3:15 - 5 Saturday, April 15, no reservations required.  941 SW 90th Lane, Oronogo, MO 64855

Tour includes:
  • Garlic, including the MSU/MU garlic planting date study
  • Blackberries, growing on the innovative rotating cross arm trellis
  • Blueberries, including recently developed cultivars
  • Hydroponic vegetable production
  • High tunnel vegetable production

Blackberry Production * - workshops at a demonstration plot featuring the new shift trellis design and new more winter hardy cultivars placed by the market at the Mt. Vernon MU research center. Presentations and handouts from 2016 workshops will be available on this site this winter. Click here for details.  Click here for registration form.

  1. Spring workshop, April 26, 1-5pm - Mount Vernon Research Center
  2. June 21 - Hmong workshop, 1-5pm -– Mount Vernon Research Center
  3. June 28 - Jefferson County
  4. Summer workshop,– July 26, 1-5pm - Mount Vernon Research Center
  5. Fall/Winter workshop,– November 15, 1-5pm - Mount Vernon Research Center

The WCFM Year-Round Education Center *
1213 Route U, Rocky Comfort. For directions, call 417 592-1933.
Twilight Tunnel Walks - Every fourth Thursday at 7 pm at the Education Center.  The first one is April 27th!  Walk through the tunnels with extension experts and experienced farmers to learn what issues are cropping up and how to deal with them.  The Twilight Walks are free and open to people who grow and people who eat.  In other words, everyone is welcome.  No reservations necessary.

Email Eileen at to be put on a notice list of upcoming workshops.

*funded, in part, through Missouri Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Block Grants.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 3-14-17

The Kids Garden Club is back this week! In fact, it will be at the market both tomorrow and next Saturday. Tomorrow is Butterfly Day. The children will make a butterfly craft and plant “Butterfly Weed”. It’s really milk weed but gets a fancy name to remind us that it is the only plant that the monarch butterfly can lay eggs on. Nationwide there is an effort to plant milk weed along the monarch’s migration path because its numbers have been decimated primarily because of loss of habitat, in order words, loss of milk weed plants. And as always there’s learning for adults at the Kids Garden Club – you’ll be learning how to plant a butterfly garden at your home.

Our Market Lady Carolyn Smith is back tomorrow as well. She will demonstrate Asian Kale Slaw with Ginger Peanut Dressing.

And The Includers are back too! This folksy eclectic band featuring Jeremy Moss and Jason Brown was a real crowd-pleaser when they were at the market a few weeks ago. We’ve added some benches so more folks can join the fun tomorrow.

And Redings Mill Bread back after a long absence. Artisan bread baked in a wood-fired brick oven. We’ve missed you Jamie and Kris. And Red Tamale is back too.

It’s that time of year when absent friends start to return. Misty Morning Farms, the Lee Family Farm, Nature Valley Farm all returned to the market this month. 

In fact, we’re gearing up for the regular season which begins on Saturday, April 22. Cooking for a Causes are being scheduled as are musicians – and recruiting volunteers. Stop by the information table to sign up to help.

The days and hours will be the same this year:  Tuesdays from 4 to 7 pm, Thursdays from 11 am to 2 pm, and Saturdays from 9 to noon

Stewart’s Bakery will serve meals on the Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Saturdays breakfast will be Cooking for a Cause and that wonderful Linda Stewart decided that this year she’s going to volunteer in the kitchen to help prepare it. Phil, who ramrods the benefit meal, couldn’t get any better help than that!

However, until we open for the regular season Linda will be serving breakfast. Tomorrow is biscuit and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage, and hash brown casserole. Linda plans to continue her eat-in or take-out Saturday meal year-round. Tomorrow it’s potato soup and bread.

I discovered a new vegetable at the market last week. Actually we’ve had this vegetable for several years but I didn’t know what it was. The Asian growers just called it Asian Broccoli but Karen Scott of Oakwoods who is also growing it now tells me that it is actually Broccoli Raab. I have seen that as an ingredient in recipes many times but never made the connection – and it’s while it is certainly found it Asia now, it originated in the Mediterranean where it is called Rapini.

As I learned this week, the stems, leaves, buds and flowers are all edible. It has a slight bitter flavor, which frankly I didn’t notice. What I noticed was the nutty flavor. I found it very tasty and invite you to try it.

Here’s the recipe I made for Carol Parker on KSN this week. Like all greens, this cooks down so don’t be intimidated by the volume of greens before they’re cooked.

Broccoli Raab with Honey and Grapes

2 bunches broccoli raab
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
1 cup grapes, cut in half
2 Tbs honey
Salt and pepper
Microgreens to garnish

Trim ends off broccoli raab and coarsely chop. Wash.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until aromatic. Add the spices and cook for 1 minute more to toast them.

Add the raab, stir in frequently until it turns bright green. If the pan seems dry, add ¼ cup of water.

Remove from heat. Stir in grapes and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Garnish with micro greens.

Adapted from The Farmers Market Cookbook

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 3-18-17

It’s beginning to look more like spring at the market. Already we have two farms returning with their early produce from high tunnels. Misty Morning Farm and Lee Family Farm will be joining seven of our year-round growers at the market tomorrow. Misty Morning got their tunnel last year and grew a bit last fall. This spring is their first full effort. The Lees put up their tunnel in the fall so they are bringing in their first harvest. 

Several of our growers have their tunnels planted with strawberries or tomatoes which won’t be ready for harvest until early May. Others, like the Lees, planted cool weather crops which are ready for harvest much sooner. You will find a nice selection of greens, radishes, carrots, green onions, turnips, and more already at the market. So get ready for some freshness tomorrow.

We welcome back Red Bridge Trio tomorrow. They put on quite a show of bluegrass and gospel, and they have a big heart. They travel all the way from Ozark and are a well-known professional band. When we booked for the season I told them that I could only afford them this month because I still had a small grant I could use to pay their fee, which is higher than we usually pay. They came back to me with four dates through the year, saying pay us our usual fee in March with your grant and for the rest of the dates, cut that fee in half. “We love playing at the market.”  And we love our musicians!  Don’t forget to drop a dollar or two in their tip jar Saturday.

Breakfast tomorrow is biscuit and gravy, sausage, scrambled eggs and hash brown casserole. 

Stewart’s Bakery will have corned beef and cabbage for eat-in or take-out for $5. Pick up some salad fixings and have a great meal tomorrow night – if you can wait that long.

The market received a nice pat on the back this week. The Missouri Department of Agriculture chose to showcase our Year-Round Education Center located on the Yang Farm near Rocky Comfort as an example of a successful grant project to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. When one considers that our project was selected over many others, including those of the state universities, that is quite a complement.

We’ll start our Twilight Tunnel Walks at the center next month so you can see what all the excitement is about. We’re also excited about our first field day at the center. We are only obligated to do adult education at the center by the grant, but we want to expand our efforts. In May we’ll do a pilot field day with horticulture students from high schools near Rocky Comfort. If that goes well, we’ll expand our efforts to a wider area in the fall. That’s how we do grants at the market. We spread the benefits as widely as we can, increasing the value to the community, whether that be growers, students or consumers, making every grant dollar count.

And you’ll see the results of those efforts tomorrow at the market – tables loaded with fresh local produce in March!  See you at the market.

Here's a recipe from Oakwoods Farm - pick up some just-picked radishes at the market on Saturday!

Roasted Radishes with Butter
1 bunch radishes
1 T. butter
1 T. soy sauce or tamari, optional but a delicious addition
splash of lemon
  • Heat oven to 375. Trim leaves and tap root from radishes. Wash and cut into quarters. I like to leave a little bit of the stems.
  • Heat an ovenproof skillet on medium-high. Add butter. When melted and bubbly, add the radishes. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce, toss, and put the pan in the oven.
  • Roast for about 5 minutes. Squeeze a little lemon juice on top.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 3-10-17

I'm am writing this from the tropical climes of Hawaii and I have to tell you that the Webb City forecast for tomorrow is too cold.  But don't let that  discourage you from coming to market tomorrow.  Our valiant staff and volunteers will be there early firing up the heaters.  With the walls down and the heat on it should be coat comfy.  That said, how about getting those temperatures under control before I get back next week!

The Kids Garden Club returns this Saturday to the market.  It’s free, it’s fun and this week the kids are learning to  identify weeds.  Now you may think anyone would know how to identify weeds but I have twice learned to my dismay that is not the case.  Many years ago I planted my first small vegetable garden, ringed it with marigolds which are thought to repel bugs and moved on to other projects while the weeds appeared and thrived.  My sweet husband decided one day to help me out by weeding the garden and did a thorough job of pulling up every marigold plant.  Years later I had landscaped a shaded section of our courtyard with columbine and perennial ferns.  My mother who was a wonderful gardener but unfamiliar with those plants ripped them all out.  I guess they didn't look as good as I thought. (photo above- no weeds here but all sorts of greens including living wheat grass)
On the other hand, one of the loveliest sights I've ever seen was a meadow in Switzerland, lush green grass dotted with yellow flowers which upon closer inspection turned out to be extremely healthy dandelions.
Led by Master Gardeners, the kids will learn how to identify common local weeds and will plant “Shamrocks” (clover).
Breakfast is biscuit and gravy, sausage, eggs, hash brown casserole for $5.  Coffee or juice is 50 cents.  Stewart’s Bakery will have pinto beans and cornbread for take away or eat in for $5. 
"The Includers", featuring Jason Brown, Jeremy Moss, and other musicians, will fill the pavilion with eclectic, fun, folksy music.

The market will be filled with fresh, local produce, baked goods, including gluten-free and handcrafted good-for-you crackers, jams, jellies, pecans, kettle corn, pork, beef, lamb and chicken, frozen tamales, locally made vanilla, handcrafted soaps, balms, jewelry and glass art.  Joplin Business Women will have Rada utensils for sale.  Cook's Berry Junction is bringing eggs for the first time.  Ed expects to bring 40 dozen so that should make a lot of shoppers happy - which makes us happy.  One of my favorite comments from a customer was "the market is my happy place."  We hope you will make it your happy place tomorrow. We try to make the market a happy, healthy welcoming experience for everyone.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 3-3-17

The market will be open tomorrow from 9 to noon, enclosed and heated as usual. What’s not been usual until recently is the wide selection of meats at the market. Sunny Lane Farm has added pork to their selection of beef, chicken and lamb. Nancy said she’d always wanted to raise pigs. I have to admit that raising pigs has never been on my list. In fact, please don’t make me raise pigs!  Isn’t it lovely that we all have different dreams?  Nancy is now living her dream (and as I write this I am in lovely Hawaii with my family so I’m pretty happy too.)

Penn Acres has added Cornish hens to their offerings. Center Creek Farm has pheasant. So we have
beef, chicken, lamb, pork, Cornish hen and pheasant – all humanely raised. Talk to the ranchers for details on how the animals are raised and what benefits you enjoy from eating sustainably raised meats.

Breakfast tomorrow is biscuit and gravy, sausage, scrambled eggs and hash brown casserole. Stewart’s Bakery will have meatloaf and oven brown potatoes for eat-in or take-away for $5. Add some salad fixings for a lovely nutritious Sunday dinner.

Richard Hugh Roberts will sing from the Great American Songbook again tomorrow.

There should be a good selection of produce as we are expecting eight farms – 417 Produce, Braker Berry Farm, Center Creek Farm, Harmony Hill Farm, Nature Valley Farm, Oakwoods Farm, Troyer Vegetables (that means little Lance will be there with dog biscuits) and Xiong Farm. We should have farm fresh eggs from four farms, baked goods, freshly roasted coffee beans, kettle corn, food bars, goat milk soaps, and more.

We are making plans for the regular season which begins on Earth Day, April 22. That will be our first Cooking for a Cause, the fund-raising breakfast on Saturdays. We have a few openings for new non-profits. Funds must be used for public causes. In other words, my own church Central United Methodist signs up for a Saturday but the money raised doesn’t go to a church-only project like repairing the roof or funding a mission trip, instead it goes to our regional food pantry Crosslines. If you have a cause you’d like to support, send me an email at

On the last Saturday in May we begin our Free Kids Summer Meals. We’ll be serving those meals – loaded with local produce – at every market - on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday this year and we will need lots of help. If you’d like to volunteer for a couple of hours once a week, once a month or just once, email me. We’d especially like to recruit groups of three or four who would sign up for a regular day of the week or month – groups like churches, businesses, clubs or just friends. Many hands make light work.  (that's Chase handing out silverware at the kids meals last summer)

It’s going to be another great year at the market but don’t wait for April. It’s already Market Time. See you tomorrow.