Current crops survived the deep freeze; strawberries, peaches?

Come see seeds get started in Master Gardener Eric’s keyhole garden demonstration

Eileen Nichols

The good news is that our winter farmers made it through the freeze with minimal damage so you can expect to see full tables at the market this Saturday. We won’t know the impact of the freeze on the outdoor fruit – peaches, blackberries, and strawberries–until later in the season, but Greg Braker thinks the blueberries are fine.

We expect our usual meal offerings this Saturday – at Harmony Hill, biscuits and gravy and eggs made to order and pupusas with zucchini or beans and cheese filling. For the Free Kids Meal, we’ll have:

  • Breakfast – biscuit, sausage patty, house made jam and milk.
  • Lunch – beef quesadilla featuring Misty Morning Farms beef, Spanish rice featuring market sweet peppers we prepped and froze last summer, baby carrots, and milk. 

The meals are free to anyone from age 1 through 18. Parents and grandparents can pick up for their kids as long as they show the server a photo of themselves with the kids so we can get a headcount.

Justin Cauble is on the market stage.

Vendors we expect include:

GROWERS:

  • Braker Berry Farm – lettuce, sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots
  • Fairhaven Berries and Produce – pecans, jams, jellies, brittle, peanut butter balls
  • Harmony Hill – breakfast, snacks, acorn squash, onions, cloth masks, baked goods
  • Lee Family Farm – mustard greens, dried Thai peppers (HOT), lettuce
  • MO Mushrooms – LionCakes, dried mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, mushroom jerky, mushroom powder
  • OakWoods – lettuce and salad mixes, wheat grass, radishes

RANCHERS

  • Clear Water Shrimp Farm – you guessed it, fresh shrimp!
  • Garrett Family Farm – pork, chicken
  • Misty Morning Farms–beef
  • Sunny Lane Farm – beef, chicken, lamb, pork
  • OTHER GOOD THINGS
  • Good Golly Tamale – frozen handmade tamales and tamale sauce from mild to HOT, including vegan
  • Juniper Coffee – house syrup, freshly roasted coffee beans, coffee drinks
  • 2 Ts Soap – beard products, incense sticks, soap, lotions and more

 

Our master gardener, Eric, is bringing a teaching prop to market these days. It’s a scaled down version of a keyhole raised bed garden. The demo garden is 2 feet across, a real one is six feet across but that would be a little tough to move, filled with dirt, to and from market every week. 

It’s a circular raised bed with a narrow walkway indention so the gardener can walk into the bed to reach the composting bin in the center. The composting bin is a circular tube of about 1/4 inch wire fencing reaching down into the bed where the gardener places composting materials. The gardener waters the plants by pouring the water into the compost tube dispersing the nutrients from the compost throughout the dirt, fertilizing it naturally. Eric will be planting the garden with greens and will have it at the market each week so folks can follow the garden’s progress. 

This is just the first of many gardening and cooking activities of the market’s learning to grow and prepare your food project. Funded by a grant from the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the project will include a teaching garden just north of the Kids Tent and lots of programs and activities for adults and kids. Stay tuned!

‘Tis the season for ideas. We’re busy considering projects for the annual grants cycle. Some possibilities include

  • Developing a Fruit Growing Education Site, similar to the Winter Production Growing Education Site the market did for three years on the Yang Farm. Growing fruit has a pretty steep learning curve, but it can be a high value crop for farms, and it seems like we never have enough to satisfy customer demand.
  • Renovating or replacing the old bathrooms north of the market (anybody want to help us find funding to make them handicap-accessible, suitable for year-round use, and easy to use and clean?).
  • Making improvements to the pavilion like repairing and painting the ceiling, adding some artistic touches, replacing the park benches, installing a gathering place with a hard surface north of the pavilion.
  • Securing continued funding for our WIC coupon program.
  • We just finished our online Winter Production Conference and it was so well-received that we’ve been asked to submit an application to the state to do more online video farmer education.
  • We’re probably in for another summer of outdoor-only activities for kids. We want to make lemonade out of lemons. We hope organizations in our region will partner with us to do programming that they might normally do inside in their own facilities. We have a ready-made audience with the Free Kids Meal, a big tent and lots of picnic tables that are available for part of each market.

And I bet you have some great ideas too.

We may still be wearing masks and social distancing for part or all of 2021 but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it the best year ever at the market. Bring your ideas, your talents, and your contacts to the market and let’s make it happen. And pick up some great local food and goodies while you’re at it.

Eileen Nichols founded the Webb City Farmers Market in 2000. From a handful of producers, the market has grown to become nationally recognized.

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