Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 8-2-2017

What a beautiful day, in many ways, yesterday was. The market was loaded with a bountiful supply of everyone’s favorites – sweet corn, tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon and so much more. The weather was stunning, sunny but cool, and a blue, blue sky filled with gorgeous clouds. 

I’m a fan of clouds. Here in Webb City we don’t have grand mountains or spectacular sea shores, but we often have wonderful clouds and yesterday’s were breath-taking.  Case in point, I took the photo below while on a walk in King Jack Park to share that soccer practice was underway.  It was only after I took the photo that I noticed the magnificent sky!  Such scenes are every day occurences for us in Webb City.

Other reasons it was such a fine day – Richard Hugh Roberts filled the pavilion with classic songs from American musicals and movies of the 40s and 50s. The meals, both for kids and adults, were tasty, but of course they always are.

The real fun began towards the end of market when we began collecting produce for Feed the Heart’s distribution on Thursday night. Because the food pantry has a walk-in cooler we can begin after Tuesday’s market and then add more at Thursday’s market. We sent over a pickup load of melons, sweet corn, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and sweet peppers. (The two photos give you an idea)  We’ll add tomatoes and other goodies on Thursday’s market.

Supplying the pantry is possible because of a grant from Empty Bowls, the fundraiser hosted by Phoenix Fired Arts. The potters are already making bowls for this year’s fundraiser which will be held in November.

The other market program that Empty Bowls supports has been the WIC pilot coupon program which provided $10 worth of fruit, vegetables, meat or eggs to WIC recipients. WIC is a government program to improve the diet of low income expectant or new moms and children under 5. 

There is a Farmers Market WIC program but in Missouri it is only available in three counties. We are hoping our pilot program will encourage the legislature to expand the program to more counties, including ours. 

The pilot program has been well received with moms often telling us that fresh produce is a luxury they could not otherwise afford. It has been so well received, in fact, that we’ve used up all the funding in just two months and we thought we would have to suspend the program this week until one of our volunteers gave us $100 to keep it going a while longer. We are seeking additional funding and hopeful of receiving it, because frankly it makes a tremendous impact. I don’t know that we’ve ever had a program that gives more bang for the buck in terms of improving diets for some of our most vulnerable residents. 

Hopefully next week I will tell you that the WIC program at the market is continuing.
Until then – tomorrow the Free Kids Meal is turkey and cheese roll ups, market sweet pepper strips, cherry tomatoes and watermelon, and milk. For adults, Stewart’s Bakery will have fried chicken salad, fresh cut fruit salad and chef salad. The Sours will be on the market stage.

Extension will have two booths. The nutrition educators will serve Watermelon, Tomato and Cucumber Salad. The horticulture specialists will give advice on gardening and landscaping.

We will also have bailing twine available for free.  These artisically wrapped heavy twine were brought to the market by Dr. Conrad Gubera who saves them from his small bales of hay and wraps them together so you can pull one strand at a time.  They're really rather lovely and so useful.  Help yourself.

On Saturday, the Free Kids Meal is breakfast casserole, market blackberries and melon, and milk.
We welcome “new” vendors – The Sassy Salad Gals. I put quotes around the word new because those gals are our head and assistant cooks for the Free Kids Meal, Syerra and Kelly. The kids meals have been exceptional and I expect the same from their new business at the market. Their daughters will be selling for them in the market until the Kids Meals conclude August 15. Selections include a mixed green salad with smoked chicken, croutons and your choice of dressing for $5, fresh mixed fruit salads for $5, and fresh fruit mocktails for $2. (Mocktails is a play on cocktails – without any alcohol.)

The Granny Chicks will liven up the market stage on Saturday.

Cooking for a Cause Breakfast benefits the Friends of Camp Mintahama, the Girl Scout camp.
Tuesday, William Adkins performs and there will be a Free Kids Meal and Stewart’s Bakery will have several supper choices.

Our last Thursday of the year will be August 31, so just five more for the year. Then we go to Tuesdays and Saturdays. Summer is just whizzing by. Every season at the market has its charms, but summer is the most bountiful, don’t miss it. See you at the market.  And when you come, look up and you may be rewarded with the view I had today at the market.