By Don Lowe
Bringing products to market is just one aspect of all that makes the Webb City Farmers Market a big deal. Farmers Market board member Karen Scott says, “We are a favorite community gathering place that draws customers from the Four-State Region).
“Customers come for the produce and end up staying for the fun. There is a local musician at every market. In the summer season, the city runs the trolley, and the kids love it. We add to the quality of life in our community.”
Scott, who is a local producer grower herself, also says, “In addition to all the fun, we support our local food system by providing a marketplace for local farmers, ranchers and producers to connect with our community. We’re also feeding our community and keeping dollars right here.”
There are a couple of important initiatives that go hand in hand with the farmers market, and Scott explains, “The Kids’ Gardening Club is designed to introduce gardening to kids by teaching and inspiring them to start their own gardens and keep them thriving.
“Gardening is a lifelong skill that helps them connect to their food so they can make healthier food choices and know where their food comes from.”
Equally vital, Scott shares, “In its eighth year, we offer the Free Kids’ Meal in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and funded by the Food and Nutrition Services through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“The program also introduces kids who participate to new and locally produced foods. The program typically starts in June and meals are available to children ages 1-18.”
Additionally, the farmers market provides gardening and cooking demonstrations. “The garden demos are led by a Master Gardener volunteer, who is available every other week through the summer to answer questions and offer gardening advice.
“Our cooking demonstrations are designed to teach consumers how to prepare in-season produce. These are led by the University of Missouri Extension Specialists, vendors and volunteers who are interested in promoting local in-season produce.”
As if that’s not enough, Scott provides details about another worthwhile relationship: “To increase the availability of fruits at the market, we partnered with the University of Missouri Extension and Lincoln University to establish the Fruit Education Site.
“The project’s focus is teaching growers the best practices on growing blackberries, strawberries and elderberries and is funded through a Missouri Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops block grant.
“The education sessions are led by Patrick Byers with the University of Missouri Extension and Angela Brattin with Lincoln University Cooperative Extension. Participants learn everything from transplant to harvest. We follow up with in-season demonstrations on how to cook with these items.”
Scott is ecstatic to be involved with the Webb City Farmers Market and assures, “I am thrilled to be a part of this organization that grows growers and provides the best local, fresh produce to our community.”
Webb City Farmers Market Fast Facts
Address: Located in the Pavilion at King Jack Park, 106 E. Tracy Street, Webb City, Missouri
Phone Number: 417.438.5833
Email Address: [email protected]
Hours of Operation: Open year-round (weather permitting) on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. (Note: April through September Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-7 p.m. are added.)
Total Stands/Booths: During the summer months when more produce growers return, there’s an average of 35- to 40-plus vendors. (In the winter months, there’s about 25 vendors.)
Process for Securing Space: Current vendors notify the Farmers Market of their intent to sell on a weekly basis. Prospective new vendors can apply at Webb City Farmers Market. (Applying is a competitive process wherein potential vendors’ applications are reviewed by the team, where consideration is given to the types of products sold, production locations, product needs at the market and available space.) Note: There is particular interest in adding producers who sell fruits, vegetables and dairy.
Produce Available: Spring greens, lettuce, kale, radishes, turnips, sweet potatoes, beets, winter sweetened carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and spinach. (Further into the summer months, there’s also lots of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, okra, green beans, cabbage, strawberries, blueberries, peaches and a variety of herbs.)
Other Products: Bedding plants, hanging flower baskets, artisan-crafted cedar planters, baked goods, coffee, smoked salts, honey, kombucha, pupusas, tamales, biscuits and gravy, egg rolls, soaps and lotions, and pasture-raised meats.
Mission/Purpose: “To sustain, nourish and enhance our community while providing a venue for success for our local farmers and producers.”
Leadership Team: The Webb City Farmer’s Market is operated by a collaborative that includes The Board of Directors, vendors, and volunteers.