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Farmers’ Market Continues Through Winter

January 4, 2007 Farmers' Markets Comments Off on Farmers’ Market Continues Through Winter

Just because we are in the dead of winter does not mean we go into hibernation, we continue to need food. Plus farmers still need to earn a living throughout the winter season. Combine the two and you get the Tower Grove Winter Farmers’ Market. From their press release:

The Tower Grove Winter Farmers’ Market Continues Saturday, January 6!

Where: St. John’s Episcopal Church, 3664 Arsenal (just West of Grand, see map)
When: The first Saturday of each month, 9 AM – Noon
Who will be vending on January 6:

  • Hinkebein Hills Farm – Naturally raised beef and pork
  • Prairie Grass Farms – Naturally raised lamb, eggs
  • Our Garden – Squash, pumpkins, salsas, preserves, applesauce, spinach, turnips, daikon radishes, cheese, yogurt, pies, dry goods
  • Blue Heron Orchard – Organic apples, apple cider, apple cider vinegar, unpasteurized apple
  • Norris Farms – Naturally raised pork and beef
  • Sunflower Savannah – Salsa, canned goods, granola
  • Kimker Hills Farm – Produce, salsas, freshly milled grains
  • Mangia Italiano – Handmade, fresh pasta
  • Murray’s Orchard – Jams, jellies, salsas
  • Seven Thunder Bison – Grass-fed buffalo, buffalo jerkey
  • Pleasant Dream Quilts – Personal sized quilts that fold into pillows

For more information, visit www.tgmarket.org


Tower Grove Farmers’ Market Continues, New Market Coming Next Year to The Ville

For those that enjoyed the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market this year don’t despair about the season ending. TGFM Co-founder (and fellow SLU grad student) Jenny Ryan says the market will continue in this Fall and Winter in a different venue:

The Tower Grove Farmers’ Market will continue during the fall and winter starting this weekend!

Where: St. John’s Episcopal Church, 3664 Arsenal

When: The first Saturday of each month, 9 AM – Noon

Who will be vending on November 4:

* Norris Farms – Naturally raised pork
* Our Garden – Squash, pumpkins, salsas, preserves
* Blue Heron Orchard – Organic apples, apple cider
* Hinkebein Hills Farm – Naturally raised beef and pork
* Femme Osage – Honey, eggs, beeswax products
* Seven Thunder Bison – Grass-fed buffalo
* Gen Obata – Crochet hats and scarves, notecards and books, paper ornaments, cd’s.
* Soy Candles by Patricia – Soy candles!

In addition to the great choices at the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market, Soulard Market is also open year round. And look for yet another market to open next year in The Ville neighborhood on the city’s northside!

At a public meeting in The Ville two weeks ago the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects announced they will be contributing $15,000 from local and national funds to help build a market area along MLK. The AIA will be working with architecture students from Washington University to help construct the project. Also in The Ville, SLU will be helping construct a building to serve as incubator space for new locally-owned businesses in the community.


“Excuse Me, Where is Soulard Market?”

“Follow me”, I said. This was the conversation today at 7th and Chouteau as an older man pulled up next to me while I was on my scooter at a red light. I was heading home from downtown and was going to pass Soulard Market. As we got to Soulard Market I pointed so he’d know we were there and he waved.

The point of the story? It is not about a need for signs pointing to Soulard Market but that people talk to me all the time while I am on the scooter. Every time I’m out on the scooter I get questions from motorists or pedestrians asking for directions or “what kinda mileage do you get?” Sometimes when I am driving my car I will have similar interactions if I have my windows down but so often people have their cars all closed up. I never understood those people that have a convertible with the top up in perfect weather.

At lunch today a friend said he and his wife are considering a two seater scooter. While I never occurred to me before, but it struck me how intimate that could be for a couple — a level of intimacy that they can’t get in a car (at least not while driving).

This past Monday marked the 1-year anniversary of my scooter and I could not be more pleased. It does not offer the exercise or thrill of a human powered bicycle but it is far better than any car (and I’ve had 3 fast European turbo-charged cars). I’ve done about 2,300 miles in the last year which is not bad considering that right after I got my new car in November I didn’t ride the scooter much in the winter.

Some of the basic questions with answers.

•Is that a Vespa? Nope, Honda Metropolitan.
• What did that run you? New Metropolitan’s are $1,850+ tax. Some Chinese imports are cheaper, Vespas are considerably more.
•What kinda milage you get? 85-90mpg.
• How fast will it go? 35mph.
•Can you go on the highway? See previous answer.
• Do you feel safe? Yes, defensive driving is a good practice regardless of the vehicle you use.
• Do you need a license, registration or insurance? Oh boy, this is a big gray area. Nearly everyone in Missouri will tell you that with a 49cc scooter that you do not need any of these. Part of the Missouri law speaks to the top speed of an unregistered moped being 30mph. I know of nobody in Missouri that has registered or insured their 49cc scooter.

A year ago I was just seeking some fun and to save some money on gas, although not enough to save on the purchase price. Today I see the value is much greater to me than simply the gas savings. I get unexpected conversations with strangers and a very flexible vehicle that is great for running around the city.


Greater Number of Smaller Grocery Stores the Key to Revitalizing St. Louis?

Last week a couple of seemingly unrelated posts converged here. Discussions about walking to the new Schnuck’s store coupled with a new book by a former St. Louisan on living car-free or at least car-lite and the usual discussion of mass transit.

As one commenter noted, it is regular grocery shopping that increases the apparent need for many of us to own, maintain and drive a personal car. Food is the one item we cannot defer making a purchase. That computer, new shoes or artwork can be put off but on a very regular basis we are all making a trek to the grocery store. The exception is my non-cooking friends but they still make it to the store for prepared meals and beverages.

I have some theories about grocery stores, sprawl and auto use. At this time I can offer no real evidence to prove or disprove my theories. But, I wanted to share and get your feedback.

This will be a cause-effect debate. Starting in the 1950s grocery stores moved from the small storefront to bigger stores with parking lots (Schnuck’s, Brentwood, 1952) and in the decades since each new store has grown larger and larger. As a result the total number of grocery stores serving the St. Louis region, relative to population, has probably decreased. The percentage of population within walking distance of a grocery store has also likely decreased.

So while most would say we fell in love with the car and shopping centers and grocery stores simply responded I don’t think that is the full picture. That may have been true initially but what has morphed over the last half century is the other way around: due to the travel distance required to get to a grocery store we have continued to need cars. At some point, as generations past, I believe the cause-effect reversed themselves. We don’t buy cars now because we want to, but because we must do so if we expect to feed our families.

While in Toronto this summer I was amazed at the lack of large chain grocery stores in the central core of the region, roughly the size of the City of St. Louis. Instead, every major street was a buzz with smaller markets and produce stands. For the person living in Toronto, the need for a car to buy groceries was nil. Instead they were offered numerous choices on where to shop. If they wanted to make some purchases at a more conventional grocery store a number of them were located along the subway lines further away from the core.

So my theory is that part of what is holding back St. Louis from repopulating as an urban core is partially the lack of grocery stores within walking distance from residential neighborhoods. Certainly, schools and mass transit are related issues but for those seeking a more urban and mostly car-free existence, it is a challenge to walk to the grocery store in the City of St. Louis unless you choose your place of residence carefully.

To this end, can we see a correlation with neighborhood density not around a transit stop but around grocery stores? So my theory goes that to rejuvenate and repopulate this city we need to have a reputable grocery store within a 1/4 mile walking distance of everyone. That is a lot of stores. Naturally, it would not happen overnight but you get the idea.

What wouldn’t work is the mammoth stores such as Schnuck’s (63,000sf), Dierberg’s, Shop-N-Save or even Whole Foods which are now approaching these other chains on store size. These chains will all claim they need to be bigger and bigger to compete. But does this only hold true in the far suburbs where they are competing to fill up a suburban family’s SUV? Chains like the locally based Save-A-Lot and Straub’s survive with smaller formats (granted, quite different from each other). California-based Trader Joe’s (owned by a trust of the brother that owns Aldi) also operates smaller format stores, roughly 15,000sf.

Can a chain operate more smaller stores and be as efficient as a single bigger store? It would seem the answer is yes. Is there a market for both type of store? Absolutely. The problem, as I see it, is we all assume the stores will get bigger and that we must drive to do our shopping. A good urban balance is not achieved locally between the bigger stores and the more reasonable sized stores.

Coming into the picture are other places to buy food such as Walgreen’s, CVS (in Illinois), Target and Wal-Mart. Locally-owned stores such as City Grocers, J’s International and numerous ethnic markets do serve a local need. And we have places like 7-11 and QT that supply basics on a convenience basis (24hrs, close by, cha-ching). And finally we see a resurgence in public markets throughout the city and region.

But, back to my theories and auto use. I believe that if we managed to locate a larger number of smaller stores (Aldi, Trader Joe’s, City Grocers, Straub’s, etc..) along with more farmer’s markets we can begin to break the auto habit. This would accomplish a number of things. Those on the lower end of the economic range, assuming they could use public transportation to get to work, could function in society without the huge financial burden of a car. This could very well improve their financial picture. The same holds true on up the economic ladder. By having fewer people driving within the city we’d have less need to build more parking structures. Our priorities would shift from road building projects to narrowing roads, widening sidewalks and constructing new buildings (local stores) where surface parking once existed. Demand for localized mass transit would increase substantially as more people lived within the city and more and more of those did not own personal vehicles.

Car sharing services would also be able to do well in such a market. In these cases, we could simply rent a car for a few hours to make that trip to the winery for the afternoon or to run to that business meeting out in the burbs not served by mass transit. That new TV, purchased with money saved by not owning a car, can be delivered.

Grocery shopping is keeping us from living a more car-free, walkable lifestyle in this city. Granted, if we were to subsidize the construction of 25 new stores in the city we would not see an immediate change. The correlation is there but it is not a direct cause-effect. But there is no denying that for many car ownership is required to lug home the week’s worth of groceries from the mega grocer.

– Steve


Tower Grove Farmer’s Market a Huge Success!

towergrovefarmersmarket20061The speeches haven’t even begun opening the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market but if the first few hours are any indication, it will be hugely successful.

Occupying a small paved area west of the Pool Pavilion (which itself is on the West side fo the traffic circle), the market was full and vendors and paying customers.

Organic produce, live plants, eggs and meats. Other local items such as handmade soaps, bread, and pasta rounded out the selection.

The only problem was really a good one, lots of people and bicycles. It was crowded but that added to the feeling of success. Had the same number of people and vendors been spread over a wider area it wouldn’t have been as good.

Bike parking was an issue so some secured their bikes to the fence of the nearby tennis courts or light poles. Hopefully before the end of the market in October some bike racks can get installed nearby. Joining the Friends of Tower Grove Park might help that cause.

I noticed many residents walking to the farmer’s market both from Tower Grove South and Shaw neighborhoods. That is really great as I’d hate to see so many cars in the park that someone starts thinking a parking lot is needed.

Big kudos to all the organizers, sponsors and elected officials (including Ald. Jennifer Florida), for making this happen.

See additional photos on Flickr.

– Steve