The Holiday Spirit

Tired of seeing of the news on Syrian refugees and Paris terrorist attacks? Me, too. Tired of Presidential debates in a non-election year? Me, too.  Already seeing Christmas TV ads and wondering how you’re going to get everything done? Me, too. Take a deep breath, slow down, and consider these 2 suggestions:

  1. Visit a local Christmas tree farm.
  2. Take a stroll at a holiday farmer’s market.

There’s no better way to get in the Christmas spirit than to visit a local tree farm. We visited Schreppler’s Fir Tree Acres in Magnolia, DE recently and I’m so glad we did. The smell of pine and intense green color surrounded us. Chance loved playing hide-and-go-seek in between the trees and all of sudden we were singing Jingle Bells. Many have Christmas shops with decorations, greenery, holly, and wreaths. But you don’t have to buy a thing-getting in the spirit is free! Find a tree farm near you in this guide from Delaware Dept. of Agriculture.

How about a stroll at a holiday farmer’s market this season? Little Wagon Produce will be a vendor at 2 upcoming local markets:

  • Friday, Nov. 20 – Milton “Harvest Market”, Noon-4pm, on the grounds of Dogfish Brewery. Check out this article in the Cape Gazette for more info. Dogs welcome!
  • Saturday, Nov. 21 – Milford Riverwalk 2nd Annual Fall Market, 10am2pm, downtown Milford. Check out this article in Delmarva Life.

You can “buy local” for Christmas gifts, local produce, seasonal decorations, jewelry, baked goods and more while enjoying Christmas music in the background. See my previous post for what Little Wagon Produce will be offering. Downtown Milford is especially a great place to mingle where local residents drink coffee, hug, smile, and fellowship. There’s no entry fee. Just come enjoy the friendly atmosphere and get in the holiday spirit at the same time!

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2015 Local Holiday Markets

This past year, Mom and I revamped the Little Wagon Produce website. After 6 years, it became outdated. It’s no small task for a small business. It took several meetings with Tim Smith’s team from Delmarva Digital, new pictures, and updated text. A few new features include a scrolling picture banner and a “We Sell” tab. Over the years, we’ve collected a database of customer email addresses to send seasonal updates. We feel it’s a nice benefit to quickly tell customers, “Sweet corn’s ready!”. This winter, I plan to increase our collection of customer recipes online. To check out our website or join the email newsletter, just go to our homepage.
Here’s our last email update for 2015 regarding upcoming holiday markets:
Greetings Patrons & Friends,
Thank you for a wonderful 2015 season! Little Wagon Produce is closed for the season. On a daily basis, we may have a few produce items available on our wagon for “self-service”. For those of you who stopped in the beginning, you know what this means!  However, we do have 2 upcoming holiday market dates to share with you. Please mark your calendars:
  1. Friday, Nov. 20 – Milton “Harvest Market”, Noon-4pm, on the grounds of Dogfish Brewery (featuring punkin ale), come enjoy the live music!
  2. Saturday, Nov. 21 – Milford Riverwalk 2nd Annual Fall Market, 10am2pm, downtown Milford, come get your Dolce coffee and take a stroll!
We plan to offer the following at these holiday markets:
  • Jams, jellies, honey, canned pickles
  • Spaghetti and acorn squash
  • Butternut and Hubbard squash (good for pie making)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips
  • Holiday slates with wrought iron (pictured below)
  • Holiday flags with wrought iron (these make great holiday gifts!)
  • Possibly a few fresh greenery pieces (wreaths, garland, etc.)
  • Possibly a few fruit baskets and/or jam & jelly gift baskets
We hope the weather stays mild and would love to see you there! You can also check out our Fall/Winter Recipes on our website. We will be adding more throughout the winter.

If you have any specific needs over the winter, please give us a call at the house (not the stand): 302-349-5206. Thank you again for your business and we look forward to serving you in 2016. Have a blessed holiday season!

Sincerely,
Little Wagon Produce
Dan & Becky Vanderwende and Families

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In Memory-Ruth Ann Messick

In Memory of Ruth Ann Messick (Mom-Mom)

Feb. 14, 1931 ~ Sept. 9, 2015

Ruth Ann (Vincent) Messick was born on Valentine’s Day, 1931 to the late Ruth Adams Vincent and Hugh Vincent. She moved around a lot as a child, as her parents ran several country stores and a gas station (such as Andrewville store). They settled in Farmington in 1948. Mom-mom was 17 years old. On April 29, 1951 she married Robert E. Messick. Mom-Mom was 20 years old. The family of all R’s, Robert & Ruth Ann had 3 girls-Rebecca, Rita, & Rochelle in 1953, 1955, & 1960 respectively. But the real fun began when the 1st of 8 grandkids was born, my brother Breck, in 1973. The last, Lauren, was born in 1990.

To me, Mom-Mom was the conductor. We were all just members of her band. I picture her now, sitting in the kitchen on the phone, checking in on everyone. She would make a to-do list everyday for her and Pop-Pop. That to-do list would consist of sending off daily birthday cards, writing letters, cooking a pot roast for one of us for dinner, taking a newspaper to a friend, or helping one of her grandchildren. Of course, one of her favorite things to do was to rush off to a yard sale or auction. She collected DE church plates, DE glass, railroad insulators, strawberry tickets, oil lanterns, Dionne quintuplets memorabilia, DE postcards, and Farmington history. One time she said to me, “Well, you have to collect something, Christy. What’s it gonna be?”. She loved all things related to Greenwood Alumni and 4-H. Her basement is a testimony to Peach Blossom 4-H Club with many old pictures of club members spanning 40 years. She was always working on something-sewing for dress revue, a place setting for favorite foods, window displays, floats, and typing project books.

Her mind and thoughts were always with her grandkids. She was always ready to go, go, go with us. Trips to D.C., New York City, the cottage at the beach, plus ball games, proms, graduations, 4-H events, college days, weddings, and continuing the celebration with 5 great-grandchildren. But as I tried to dig out old pictures of Mom-Mom, I couldn’t find many. I have a ton with Pop-Pop but Mom-Mom was always behind the camera. However, in my box I did have a ton of letters from her. They mean more to me than a picture because in her notes she showed me her love, empathy, and concern. In a world where our noses tend to be stuck in our cell phones and a personal letter is an artifact, I have these snapshots in time from a grandmother with a ton of other interests who took 5 minutes to think about me.

But what I’ll miss most are the phone calls. She was the first one to call me after my wedding to say “We had so much fun. We love Scott. Don’t worry about anything here. Have fun on your honeymoon”. And she was the first to call after my husband’s Mom passed and said, “We loved her, too. How can we help you and Scott?”.

I’m sure each grandchild has a ton of their own memories. For me, she’s the reason I’m a Democrat and why I love Delaware history. She took me to Pea Patch Island, Patty Cannon House, and Woodland Ferry growing up. She’s the reason why I have a lead foot and speed too much. She’s the reason I love antiques and a really good yard sale. She’s also the reason I boss my husband around way too much, just like she did Pop-Pop. And she’s the reason why I can’t keep my hands still.

For Pop-Pop I picked the word devoted. For Mom-Mom, I picked the word hands-on. She was certainly a hands-on grandmother. For Pop-Pop, I said I would teach my boy how to give a really big bear hug. For Mom-Mom, I’ll teach him how to take 5 minutes out of his day to call a neighbor or write a thank you note. I thank God that she’s reunited with Pop-Pop in heaven. Rest in Peace, Mom-Mom Ruth.

Messicks w Joyce at Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal Dinner-September 21, 2012 Joyce Wright in center Pop-Pop & Mom-Mom Messick on far right

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At our wedding, after the anniversary dance, which they won. Mom-Mom & Pop-Pop Messick in center.

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August 31, 2014. Holding Chance.

Keeping It Simple-Top Questions this Season

Little Wagon Produce has been in business over 25 years. That’s a lot of time to reminisce and observe how customer preferences and questions change over the years. One transition we’ve seen is the way in which customers want their produce. For example, many non-locals want really small produce, especially when it comes to yellow and green squash.They want it little, before its even matured. This is challenging because it doesn’t keep well in the heat. Our locals usually want the exact opposite so we try to provide both options. I’m not sure why the preference for smaller. It doesn’t seem to taste as good to me and honestly, you get less for your money!

We also get a lot of questions on a daily basis. Customers want to know what’s in the field behind the stand. Mom explains the difference between soybeans, field corn, and sweet corn. At one time we even had a jar with shelled field corn and soybeans so we could show the difference. More and more customers are becoming removed from their food. They have never grown a garden or picked produce. But the questions are getting more complex. They may have read an article on GMO’s or the advantages of buying organic, but they have NO IDEA the physical effort it takes to grow, cultivate, and pick produce, especially corn, and even carry a full basket of corn. Farmer Dan even has carparl tunnel in his hands from pulling sweet corn so much. The consistent routine of twisting an ear off the stalk has given him much pain in his arm and elbow.

But just to give you some insight, here are a few customer questions from this season:

5. How many flowers are in a 6 pack? Yes, seriously, a customer really asked this.

4. Do we sell fishing poles? Uh, no. But maybe we should?

3. Is a green tomato ripe? No, a green tomato is not ripe. A red tomato is ripe. I still don’t think the customer understood.

2. Is our produce organic? No. Farmer Dan has a license to apply chemicals. He does so sparingly. Chemicals are very expensive so we do not waste them. A fellow farmer from Maryland wrote an excellent blog about how “Spraying isn’t Dousing“.

1.Is our sweet corn GMO? No. Although GMO sweet corn seed is available now, we have not tried it yet. Will we in the future? Possibly, if it yields well, has the same supersweet taste, and minimizes how many chemicals we spray topically. The customer shook his head and was not satisfied. His comment was, “It is GMO. How else do you get the bi-color (yellow and white) corn?”. Questions like this are getting harder to answer and the answer is not simple. Farmer Dan taught us that the customer is always right, but in this case, he was wrong. I’ll tell you more in my next blog…

As you can see from above, the questions vary tremendously. Some simple, some complex. There are many times where the markets are busy, the heat oppressive and questions are just too much. But Mom and Dad still go out of their way to be polite and try to educate them as much as possible. Our answers are simple. We tell the truth about our practices. We do not believe in false marketing and would never say we are organic just to attract customers. And we will never advertise that we are “GMO-free” just to attract more business.

Seeing how Mom and Dad treat customers with respect and tell them the truth taught us a lot growing up. It created a loyal, respectful business that our family is proud of. Our story never gets old. We had too much produce in our garden so we put out a wagon and an honor box. It grew from there. It’s that simple. We want to share our food and knowledge with you. So even as customer fads come and go, Little Wagon Produce will be answering your questions another 25 years from now. God willing.

Response to “Shame on Carney for GMO food vote”

In response to the Delaware State News article, “Shame on Carney for GMO food vote”on July 29, I would like to set the record straight regarding GMO food and labeling.

First of all, there are only eight crops commercially available from GMO seed in the United States. They are corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, and squash. I have seen many non-GMO labels in the grocery store already, such as on blueberries. This is unnecessary and confusing because blueberries have never been a GMO food. The same goes for canned pineapple and popcorn.

Furthermore, leading scientists and world health organization’s agree that GMO foods are safe to eat. Before GM crops can be released to the market, they are tested in ways that conventional and organic crops are not. If a study were ever to yield a result that raised any food safety concern, it is required by law that the information be presented to the FDA. Not a single case of ill health has originated from the consumption of these products for the past 20 years.

In reality, GMO labeling isn’t about a nutrition, health, or food safety issue. It’s about marketing. It’s a ploy where food companies try to capture your attention and separate their product from competitors on grocery shelves. It’s about capturing “fad” food preferences as well. For example, only 1% of the United States population suffers from celiac disease, which requires a gluten-free diet. However, gluten-free labels are everywhere. Food marketers have a history of taking advantage of consumer confusion.

Last but not least, it’s important to know for every dollar we spend on food, only about 16 cents goes to the farmer. Requiring labeling would pass a huge expense down to the farmer and even the consumer. So THANK YOU, Rep. Carney, for standing for science and Delaware’s #1 industry…….Agriculture.

For more information, please visit the links embedded in the article or go here and talk to a real farmer: http://findourcommonground.com/

Australian Shepherd Pups Available

NEW LITTER BORN JULY 12, 2015-READY FOR PICK-UP ON AUGUST 22, 2015!

We love Australian Shepherd’s! Lucy, our black bi female, just had a litter of 9 puppies on July 12, 2015. Deuce is our red merle male with amber/green eyes. This breed of dog is known for its intelligence and herding skills. Our Aussie’s love being around family and kids. They also love being active and need room to run and play.

Deuce-The proud Dad

The dad, Deuce, is a red merle. He’s 4 years old.

The proud Mom

Lucy, the proud mom, is a black bi. She has a little tan on her hind legs. She’s 3 years old.

You can register your pup with the National Stock Dog Registry (NSDR). Both our female and male are registered. All of our puppies come with their first set of shots, health certificate, and tail docked. We require a non-refundable $100 deposit in order to hold a specific puppy for you until it is old enough to go to its new home. The remaining balance is due at the time you pick up your puppy.  We do not offer shipping. After confirming the puppy you want us to hold for you, you have 7 days to get the deposit to us. If we do not receive the deposit in those 7 days the puppy will then become available to other buyers.  Ready for pick-up on August 22, 2015!  Call 302-362-0831 (Scott) or 302-245-1793 (Christy) to reserve yours!

Pictures of Litter #3 below
Born July 12, 2015 (Baseball All-Star Week)
Pictures will be updated each week-https://farmerdansdaughter.com/aussie-pups/

Cal – Blue Merle Male – $600-SOLD 7/29/2015
(Dark gray, black spots, white blaze, belly and socks)

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Eddie – Black Bi Male – $500-SOLD 7/29/2015
(solid black back, white speck on forehead and muzzle, white socks on front paws, no tan visible yet)

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Brady – Red Merle Female – $600-SOLD 8/3/2015
(white blaze and speck on forehead, white socks, more red spots on left face and foreleg)

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Brooks – Red Merle Female – $600-SOLD 8/2/2015
(looks very similar to Brady but more white on neck)

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Manny – Red Bi Female – $500-SOLD 8/2/2015
(Solid red back, white muzzle, belly & socks, no tan visible yet)

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Tippy – Red Bi Female – $500-SOLD 8/15/2015
(white tuft on neck and blaze, more white on legs, no tan visible left)

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Palmer – Black Bi Female – $500-SOLD 8/22/2015
(Large white collar and belly, no tan visible yet)

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Dempsey – Black Bi Female – $500-SOLD 8/22/2015
(thin white on belly, white blaze and muzzle, black spots on nose, no tan yet)

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Weaver – Black Bi Female – $500-SOLD 8/23/2015
(half black & white muzzle, solid black back, small white white socks)

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Bring on Summer and Fresh Produce!

Written by Christy Vanderwende Wright, Little Wagon Produce, for Milford Live (page 14) in honor of Local Produce Week

Bring on summer and the local produce! A sure sign of summer is downtown farmer’s markets. Little Wagon Produce is busy as a vendor at three – the Milton Farmer’s Market on Friday afternoon, the Riverwalk Farmers Market in downtown Milford every Saturday morning, and the Georgetown Farmer’s Market at 16 mile Brewery every Wednesday evening.

The Riverwalk Farmers Market in Milford has become a regular meeting hub for the Milford community. Shoppers mingle, talk, smile, laugh, and hug in between buying goods. Live music and many new vendors compliment the market. The weather has been warm but the grove of trees provides a refreshing shade. We appreciate the loyalty of Milford patrons year after year. I also appreciate the many questions and concern in my absence. I welcomed a baby boy last August and have taken time off to care for him. My sisters, Danna and Amber, have replaced me and love to share pictures of the baby!

The most popular question we get each year is “Do you have sweet corn yet?” The answer is YES! We are also picking daily our own yellow squash, zucchini, sweet corn, string beans, kale, green tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. We will soon have red tomatoes. Farmers have been blessed with plentiful rain this season. Keep in mind, there are expenses incurred by vendors such as fuel costs, paper and plastic bags or packaging, labor, and significant time picking and packing the day before the market. We tend to spend most of Friday preparing for the market in Milford and schedule 4-5 employees to attend and assist customers during the market.

If you do plan to take a stroll downtown soon, here are a few tidbits to help you be “Farmer Market Ready” this summer:

  • Bring cash! Many vendors are small businesses and cannot afford the fees accompanied with credit card machines. There is no bank in downtown Milford anymore.
  • Bring your own bags! The recyclable grocery bags work great! By doing this, you will help the environment and help us because plastic bags are an additional expense to vendors that we usually do not pass on to the customers. We even pay more and go out of the way to find heavy-duty plastic bags to hold a dozen ears of sweet corn (and they still don’t hold a dozen ears well).
  • Bring a friend! Word of mouth is the best marketing! The Riverwalk Farmer’s Market is open every Saturday from 9am-1pm.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask! Many markets have an information booth or a “Market Manager” to oversee the market each week.
  • Spread the love! Hopefully you will find more than one vendor to patronize. In Milford, there’s a large variety of vendors offering more than produce and there are several businesses nearby such as Dolce Coffee Shop, Blooming Boutique, Sugar Bee Candy Store, Arena’s and Georgia House Restaurant.
  • Bring your smile! Many vendors love to talk and engage their customers, including us.
  • Stay updated! The market is usually rain or shine! Vendors still come out in the rain. Check to see if your local market has a Facebook page and/or website for updates. Milford can be found on Facebook at “Riverwalk Farmers Market” and we update our page as well, “Little Wagon Produce”.
  • Say thanks to the vendors! There would be no market without them!

Thank you to all our loyal customers who already know the ropes and patronize the market week after week! Be sure to check out the Department of Agriculture’s “Buy Local” website for a farmer’s market near you at www.de.gov/buylocal.