Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Webb City Sentinel column - 7-26-17

First things first. It’s watermelon season!  The market has many delights, but for me nothing tops watermelon. While I didn’t do an official survey yesterday, I’m pretty sure we have at least five different kinds of watermelon right now. I chose for my first one an Orange Crisp. As the name implies, the “meat” is orange, and it has a lovely firmness, but I love it because it is so sweet and seedless. I’ll have worked my way through it by tomorrow so I can try another variety then. Luckily for me, my husband Phil isn’t much of a watermelon eater so I don’t have to share. And, yes, I do like it so well that I can go through a medium sized melon in three days – easily.

We also have truckloads of cantaloupe, plus canary and honey dew melons. It’s pretty much melon heaven at the market.

The sweet corn has come in as well, and the field tomatoes, the sweet and hot peppers, the eggplant. It may be hot, but the produce is well worth frequent trips to the market. 

And if you get too hot, just run through the kids’ sprinkler. The park’s new splash pad is so popular that we stole the idea, as well as the sprinkler from the kid’s garden and set it up on the fenced lawn north of the kids’ tent yesterday. From the squeals and laughter coming from that direction, I’d say it was a big hit.

Tomorrow we have Scott Eastman on the market stage. Stewart’s Bakery is serving bacon lettuce and tomato on Ciabatta bread with fruit salad for $6. There will also be fresh cut fruit salad and chef salad at Stewart’s. I am writing this Tuesday night and just finished the chef salad. It was delicious.

Along with our usual excellent vendors, MoBlooms is coming to the market tomorrow with their beautiful locally grown bouquets.

The Free Kids Meal, which is served from 11 to 1 on Thursday, is turkey and cheese cubes with crackers, corn on the cob, watermelon and milk. Yes, that would be market corn on the cob and watermelon.

On Saturday, the Pommerts will play. Cooking for a Cause benefits Webb Cares, the school – community collaborative that makes sure kids in need get basic necessities like school supplies, a bed to sleep on or clothes to wear. The Latimer family is supplying all the volunteers - that’s Karen and Jim and two of their daughters’ families, the Millers and the Parkers. Breakfast is served from 9 to 11.

The Free Kids Meal on Saturday is baked oatmeal with market blackberries and milk. 

Stewart’s Bakery is serving vegetable soup with crackers for $5 for eat in or take away.

We had some visitors from Columbia this week. Two students from the MU journalism school were in town to do a documentary on the market’s work with our Hmong farmers. 

We learned the market was featured in last month’s Feast magazine, the food magazine based in St. Louis, for our work with the Hmong. And Fue Yang who manages our education center has become something of a media star.  He was recently featured on the web site of the national Farmer Market Coalition and by the University of Missouri Extension news service.

We have so much good going on for us as a market and a community –  stellar growers, a fun splash pad, AND it won’t be long before the street car is back on the tracks. And some of the best produce of the season – all waiting for you at the market. See you there!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 7-19-17

OK, folks, it’s that time of year when we need you to bring your friends and neighbors to the market, especially to the weekday markets. We actually sent a bushel of peaches home yesterday!

On the bright side, we had enough cantaloupe left over yesterday to supply all 150 families expected at Feed the Heart food pantry distribution tomorrow night. It’s all stored in our walk-in produce cooler at the market for the pantry to pick up.

What wonderful results we have had from our collaboration with the pantry and with the annual fundraiser Empty Bowls. Thanks to the generosity of many the potters who made the bowls, the restaurants who filled them with soup and the donors who bought them, we were able to add $600 to our farmers’ sales yesterday (even with them selling to us at wholesale bulk prices so you know that adds up to a LOT of food) and to add cantaloupe, zucchini, cucumbers, potatoes and tomatoes to the diets of our neighbors in need. We will add blackberries from the market’s research plot in Mt. Vernon so it will be quite a feast for folks who rarely get to enjoy fresh produce.

So next November when Phoenix Fired Arts holds Empty Bowls again, we hope you will consider buying one of the beautiful bowls. Just this week, the potters began making the first of the 1,000 bowls planned for the event.

Tomorrow, William Adkins plays on the market stage. The MU Extension educators will serve samples of Watermelon, Cucumber and Tomato Salad (yes, watermelon - Owen brought in the first of the watermelon yesterday!).

The Free Kids Meal will be soft beef tacos, cherry tomatoes, sweet pepper strips, cantaloupe and blackberries. It is served from 11 to 1 on Thursdays. MU Extension will lead water games for the kids just north of the tent.

Stewart’s Bakery is serving chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes and a vegetable for $6.
On Saturday Cooking for a Cause benefits Inch at a Time, which a community project to improve the athletic facilities of the Sarcoxie schools. There will be biscuits and gravy, sausages, eggs cooked to order, farm fresh tomato slices and coffee or orange juice.

Stewart's Bakery will have burrito bake for $5 to eat-in or take out.

The Free Kids Meal will be egg casserole and market fruit and veggies and milk. The Webb City Police Department will do free fingerprinting at the kids tent from 9 to 11. The parents receive their children’s finger print cards.

Red Bridge Trio will keep the market hopping with their high energy bluegrass and gospel.

On Tuesday – remember we’re open on weekdays! – we’ll have the free kids meal and a couple of meal choices from Stewart’s Bakery. I will have the menu posted on the market’s website,, and on the market’s facebook page on Sunday.

The fabulous Geriatrics will play on Tuesday. That alone is worth coming to the market.
If you are a gardener or a grower be sure and check out the grower training page on the market’s web site.

We have two trainings coming up. On Wednesday, July 26, from 1 to 4, we have a blackberry workshop at the Mt Vernon Research Center, 14548 State Rd H. Patrick Byers, MU Extension, will share information about transitioning primocanes to the rotating cross arm trellis and blackberry insect and disease management. You will get to see our research plot which is producing hundreds of pounds of berries right now. The registration fee of $10 may be paid at the door.

On Monday and Tuesday, August 14 and 15, the market is hosting the first ever Missouri Tomato Conference, in collaboration with University of Missouri Extension and Lincoln University Co-operative Extension. We expect it to be exceptional. Our presenters are nationally-known experts in their fields. The conference will be held at the Continental Banquet Center, just behind Granny Shaffers, from 8:45 am to 5 pm on the Monday and there will be farm tours with in-the-field education from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm on the Tuesday. The cost is only $30 per person. Details and a registration form are on the market’s web site.

We are able to bring this together because the Missouri Department of Agriculture allowed us to use funding left over from our Winter Production Conferences. We always try to get the biggest bang from any funding we receive whether it’s from a grant or from our farmers’ fees and we have gotten such a bang from our conferences that now we can embark on a completely different area of learning. We love our winter produce and love that the supply is increasing both in quality and quantity in the winter, but who among us doesn’t love tomatoes too?  Tomatoes are the top selling vegetable in Missouri but they can be very challenging to grow. After August we hope farmers from across the state – and in nearby states – are better equipped to grow and sell the best tomatoes ever. Because we love our tomatoes – and our farmers. And we want the best for our customers, too.

Now back to my first point –Tomorrow would be a great day to see you at the market!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 7-12-17

The cantaloupe came in at the market yesterday and the watermelon won’t be far behind. Melons love the heat, so they must be deliriously happy. The field tomatoes are coming in, the okra is beginning, the peppers are popping up, the market is awash with egg plant. Yes, it’s summertime. Time to dress cool and eat fresh.

On Thursday the free kids meal is served from 11 to 1 and will be chicken salad with crackers, blackberries and cantaloupe and some market veggies. 

Stewart’s Bakery is serving spaghetti and meatballs with green salad for $6. Rob Pommert is on the market stage.

Saturday the free kids meal is served from 9 to 11 and it will be biscuit and gravy and blackberries.
Cooking for a Cause will benefit Joplin NALA. NALA, working with volunteer mentors, teaches adults reading and math skills as well as English as a Second Language to people who grew up speaking a non-English language. Reading may seem an easy skill for those of us who learned as children, but for those adults who did not being unable to read is a tremendous barrier to getting a good job or even reading with your own children. And for immigrants and new citizens of our country it is an important step to being an active and productive member of our community.

Cooking for a Cause is served from 9 to 11 and includes various combinations of biscuits and gravy, sausages, eggs cooked to order, slices of farm fresh tomatoes and coffee or juice.

Stewart’s  Bakery will have Chicken Tortilla Soup for eat-in or take-away for $5 a pint. Folks raved about it the last time it was served.

Corky Dow plays on the market stage on Saturday. He always brings a fellow musician and always gives us a good show.

Oakwoods Farm is bringing the pepper roaster Saturday. This is a special treat – only a couple of markets in the state have farmers with pepper roasters – and the roaster appears relatively late in the season because all those colorful hot and sweet peppers tend to ripen later than many other vegetables. But they are ripe now, so load up! We'll also have honey and cut flowers at the Saturday market.

On Tuesday, Stewart’s Bakery will serve meatloaf, potatoes and pasta salad for $6 and 1/4 pound hotdog with all the trimmin’s for $5. 

You may have noticed that we were flooded with corn the week of Fourth of July and then had hardly any for a couple of markets – and that the melons are running a bit late. You can thank all that rain in the spring. The fields were so wet that the farmers couldn’t get in to plant for a week and that caused the gap we experienced. Farming is often at the mercy of the weather and while we have some amazing farmers, they haven’t figured out how to plant in mud. We seem to be getting past the gaps, but should another lean sweet corn market appear, just enjoy all the other good things at the market!  You sure won’t go hungry.

See you at the market.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Webb Cty Sentinel market column - 7/5/17

If you didn’t make it to the market last Saturday, you may have been the only one. Well, not really, but we estimate that over 2,000 people did come. Bob Foos was kind enough to take some drone photos overhead and at the moment he captured I can count about 150 customer cars. And there were more beyond the view of the camera. Thank goodness for our improved parking. Hopefully, the traffic wasn’t such a trial Saturday that all those customers will come back after savoring what the market has to offer.  (I've included a few of those photos so you can see what a tremendous crowd we had.  Thanks, Bob!)

 This time of year our regular customers can get a bit grumpy about the crowds at the market. They tend to see all these new customers as interlopers or fair weather customers. And it is true that this time of year we do see folks who only come during the highest part of the high season. In previous years I think the early July traffic has been so terrifying that many wouldn’t make a return trip. Hopefully, that won’t be the case now that the parking is better because we need those extra customers. During July and August our farmers will bring in two and three times as much produce as they might during other months. The crops are pouring in this time of year and we need lots of customers to buy them.

That said, tomorrow will no doubt be an easy day to shop as those sated during the Fourth of July holidays may stay home. Don’t be one of those! Enjoy the sweet corn, tomatoes and other goodies while you can.

The Sours will play tomorrow. Stewart’s Bakery is serving hamburger steak, oven brown potatoes and fried cabbage for $6. The Free Kids Meal is ham and cheese sandwiches and market fruits and veggies. MU Extension is demonstrating and sampling “Salsa for One”, no doubt using some of the fabulous tomatoes that are filling the farmers’ tables. In fact, if you like to make your own salsa, now is a good time to pick up some bulk tomatoes. Braker Farms usually has several 20-lb boxes available and on Saturday there will be several farms with bulk canning tomatoes available. The canning tomatoes are usually seconds, which means they’re not as pretty but they taste just as good and are less expensive.

On Thursday we begin our Feed the Heart project. Feed the Heart is a food pantry in Carterville that twice a month supplies food to many families in need. Thanks to a grant from Empty Bowls, Missy Donham, who helps organize the pantry, will be at the market tomorrow to shop for the pantry.
Fresh produce is hard to come by for both low income folks and for food pantries. Much of the food donated to food pantries is processed foods and much of that is not very healthy. 

You may remember that Empty Bowls is a national fundraiser to address hunger and is sponsored locally by Phoenix Fired Arts in Joplin. Thanks to the recommendation of a loyal customer, the market became one of its beneficiaries this year and has $2,200 for the food pantry project and $2,200 for our pilot WIC program. 

Feed the Heart will pick up their produce on the first and third Thursday each month so it will be fresh from the market for the distribution that night. Because we know our customers are among the most generous in the world, we will also have a cooler at the market those days for those who would like to add to the bounty and for our farmers who want to make a donation. 

Apple Road Farm will be back Saturday with honey
We know the WIC program is making a big difference for low-income moms and kids – not only in improving their diets, but also in knowing that the market and the community care about their families. Last week, one young mom told us “if it wasn’t for this program I would not have any fresh vegetables on our table.”  We hope to make the same difference in our partnership with Feed the Heart.

On Saturday, Richard Hugh Roberts will sing from the Great American Songbook – classic songs from Broadway, the movies and other American standards from the 1920s through the 1950s.

Cooking for a Cause benefits the scholarship program at Cottey College, an independent, liberal arts and sciences college for women in Nevada, Missouri. The college is owned and supported by the PEO Sisterhood, a local chapter of which will be volunteering at the breakfast.

The Free Kids Meal will be breakfast casserole with market fruits and veggies.

On Tuesday, William Adkins plays and Stewart’s Bakery will serve supper. The Free Kids Meal runs from 4:30 to 6:30. Check for the menu on our website –

It’s high season at the market. Savor the season.  And remember - we've got more parking than ever before (although not quite enough for our Fourth of July Saturday).