Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 5-10-17

We are officially an open-air market this week. We love our sides during inclement weather but with 80-degree days forecast for the week, we’ve rolled the sides up for the season.

It’s plant time at the market. We have so many beautiful flowering hanging baskets we feel like we’re in a garden. This Saturday is our Mother’s Day market and that means we will be buried in flowers!  E & O Produce has all sorts of flowering bedding plants and beautiful baskets filled with a variety of flowering plants full of color and texture. Braker’s has baskets loaded with wave petunias which grow large and hang over the sides making a brilliant splash of color.

Fairhaven has handcrafted cedar planters filled with flowering plants. Every year Joe tries to design a new planter and this year he really hit the mark with his choo-choo train planter – an engine with three cars. It’s only $50. That’s just $12.50 a car. What a deal and so charming.

Of course, if trains are not your thing, you might try a birdhouse planter or the bentwood chair planter or any of the many other designs that Joe has come up with over the years. Last week a customer got a one-of-a-kind. It was a basket planter. The handle was made of twined wisteria from Carrole’s garden.

Saturday is also notable because Pate’s will be back. But hold your horses!  It’s too early for peaches, though it was good news when John Pate told me the peach crop is looking good despite the weather. John will have tomatoes and cucumbers from his tunnel, and Barb’s. Yes, Barb is quick to point out one of those tunnels is hers.
Fue Yang will also be back. Fue manages the market’s Year-Round Education Center located on his family’s farm. We hosted a field day there last Friday for high school horticultural students. It was a pilot for a full-blown field day we want to do in the early fall and it went really well. 

Our Extension specialists took on various topics such as pest control, sequential planting, seed starting and tunnel equipment. The student evaluations of the event were all positive but the most positive were for Fue’s presentation. He told them how his family came to become market farmers and how since he was fluent in both English and Hmong he ended up going to all the farm trainings to translate. Finally, after resisting a career in farming he decided to embrace it. He is getting his degree in Ag Business from Crowder in December.

He told them about his father’s initial uneasiness with having high tunnels on the farm. His parent’s are traditionalists and new technology was unwelcome – until they saw the benefits it could bring. Fue’s father was so impressed with the produce raised in the tunnels that he wanted to expand. So when Hector Troyer said his was for sale, he snapped it up. You could say the market’s two tunnels have had a baby, though it sprung forth full-grown being the same size as the first two.
Hector, who is moving to Pennsylvania to be near his parents, even helped Fue put the tunnel up.

It was wonderful to see Fue speaking to the students. He was confident, accessible, and well-informed. A year ago he knew almost nothing about high tunnel management. Though he confided later that he was very nervous, it did not show. He is ready to not only manage the Education Center but serve as one of its educators.

I’ve gotten ahead of myself. Thursday the Granny Chicks are playing. Stewart’s Bakery serves goulash and a hot roll for $5.

On Saturday Cooking for a Cause benefits the Ronald McDonald House. Their volunteer gardeners will staff the breakfast which runs from 9 to 11. They use the profits to buy plants, fertilizer and other things needed to keep the house’s landscaping in top shape. Ronald McDonald House provides free housing for families with children in one of the hospitals.

Richard Hugh Roberts plays the music of the Great American Songbook. Stewart’s Bakery will have chicken and noodles with a roll for $5 for eat-in or take-out.

On Tuesday Scott Eastman plays. Stewart’s Bakery will have two tasty choices for supper. 

It’s our first week as an open-air market and we’re celebrating!