By Mike Pound
WEBB CITY, Mo. —
They started lining up at 10:30 Friday morning -- 30 minutes before sales would begin. By 10:50 a.m. it was pretty clear that not everyone in line was going to get what they came for, but Tim Green said that’s what happens when you’re selling something that folks want -- and the folks at the Webb City Farmers Market wanted the blackberries, raspberries and black raspberries that Green and his wife, Violet, were selling.
Green said it has been a good growing season for berries. He and his wife grow produce on their small farm located between Galena and Riverton, and he said the mild winter has produced such bumper crop of blackberries, for example, that it looks like he will have more than he can sell.
“They are real thick. As a matter of fact we probably have too many,” he said.
Green has been selling red and black raspberries at the market for about a week and is just beginning to sell blackberries. Last week he had a limited amount of raspberries and blackberries for sale, but he expects a full supply of blackberries by the end of the week.
Green said he only planted a few rows of raspberries on his property, but with 35 rows planted he doesn’t forecast there being a shortage of blackberries.
As seems to be the case when it comes to farming, this year’s growing season is a marked contrast to the previous year.
“We didn’t have any (blackberries) last year because of the freeze,” he said.
Like just about every other crop, blackberries are coming in a few weeks ahead of schedule. Ed Browning, program director for the Jasper County Extension Office, said the combination of the mild winter and early rain helped growers in the area this year.
“We’re getting pretty dry now, but when they (crops) were actually flowering and getting their buds we had decent rain,” he said.
In addition, the lack of a late frost allowed the plants to flower and bud earlier than normal, he said.
Browning said the average late frost in this area hits around April 9, while this year the last frost was in mid-March.
The health attributes of berries are many. They are high in antioxidants, which help fight cancer. A recent study conducted at the University of Ohio found that blackberries are the most potent cancer fighting berries of them all.
When shopping for blackberries, it’s important not to buy too many. Left at room temperature for too long mold will grow, and they only last in the refrigerator for a couple of days. However, blackberries do freeze well and if properly stored will keep for several months.
The Greens sell their berries, tomatoes and other produce at the Webb City Farmers Market. They also allow people to pick their own berries at their property located between Riverton and Galena, Kan., on SE 90th St. To arrange to pick your own blackberries you may call Green at 620-210-0216.
1/2 cup butter
2 cups self-rising flour
2 cups white sugar
2 cups milk
3 1/2 cups blackberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once oven temperature is reached, melt butter in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. In a medium bowl stir together the flour, sugar and milk; batter will be slightly lumpy. Pour mixture on top of melted butter in baking pan. Do not mix butter and mixture together. Drop blackberries into batter; if more crust is desired add less blackberries. Bake in preheated oven for one hour or until golden brown.
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
4 cups raspberries
1 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons tapioca
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon half-and-half cream
Mix together the raspberries, sugar, tapioca, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt until raspberries are well covered. Pour into 9- or 10-inch pastry shell. Dot with butter, top with crust. Make slits in the top crust and brush with cream. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.