Locavores rejoice. May marks the opening of area farm markets. Counted among this year’s market crop is the Arnold Farmer’s Market, located on the grounds of Fox Middle School, that opens May 5, the official opening date of most Missouri farm markets.
Arnold’s Farmers' Market joins the growing list of urban farm markets that now number more than 140 statewide. This rise in popularity is a result of the “farm to fork” moment, encouraging one to eat greener and better by filling one's plate with foods grown locally - thus the term locavore. Yet, while farm markets may seem trendy, they’re nothing new. Until grocery and mega-markets changed how we shopped over the last 75 years, farm markets were the gathering place for farmers and the community to connect. Today’s food markets celebrate these old ways (foodways) tradition that allows one to gather with neighbors, shop and bring the best local products to the table -- at often better prices.
Helping Missourians find local farm markets and farm stands is AgriMissouri, a division of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, which promotes Missouri-grown and Missouri-made items. According to AgriMissouri Communications Specialist Christine Tew, farm markets are the best way to eat better and healthier. They also provide wide variety of fresh produce, dairy and meats that include many that are organically grown.
To locate the closest market Tew encourages farm fans and foodies to log on to AgriMissouri’s newly designed website, ArgiMissouri.com.
“AgriMissouri's farmers’ market map currently lists 218 markets,” said Tew, noting the growth of markets across the state. " We’ve seen roughly a 10 percent increase yearly in farm markets over the past decade. And our membership has grown by leaps and bounds – from 350 to more than 1300 AgriMissouri members in 2011.”
AgriMissouri’s website also offers a trip planner. Check the map and follow the promps to plan a market-hopping road trip. Many farm markets have become destinations, providing entertainment as musicians, cooking demonstrations or other special events throughout the year, such as Soulard Market.
Soulard Market, whose simple beginnings can be traced to the late 18th Century, always has street musicians positioned at both the north and south entrances. Soulard is also known for its planned and impromptu events staged at the adjacent Soulard Market Plaza Park. While Soulard is open year round, locals will find more farmers occupying the markets stalls now through late fall.
The roster of Missouri farm markets is impressive. The following is a short list of markets found in Jefferson and St Louis counties. For a complete market directory go online to www.AgriMissouri.com and plot your shopping desinations. Plan a day and market hop, but come prepared. to keep your farm finds fresh, pack a cooler in your car.
After shopping the market you might want to try a few new farm recipes. The following are vintage recipes I grew up eating and feature in my cookbook, Pushcarts and Stalls: The Soulard Market History Cookbook.
Farm Markets in Jefferson County
- Crystal City Farmers’ Market: Wednesdays, May – October, 4-8 p.m
- Arnold Farmer’s Market: Saturdays, May – October, 8am - Noon
- Byrne’s Mill Farmer’s Market: Fridays, May 11 – September 3, – 7 p.m.
- DeSoto Farmer’s market: Saturdays, May – October, 8 a.m. – Noon
Farm Markets in St. Louis
- Webster Groves Farmers Market: Thursdays, 3 – 7 p.m. May - October
- Clayton Farmers Market: Saturdays, May – November 3, 8:30 am – 12:30 p.m.
- Tower Grove Farmer’s Market: Saturdays May – October, 8:30 am – 12:30 p.m.
- Ferguson Farmers Market: Saturdays, April – October, 8 am - Noon
- Soulard Market: Wednesday throughy Thursday, 8 a.m-5 p.m.; Friday 7 am – 5 pm; Saturday 7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- Kirkwood Farmer’s Market: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. Saturday 8 a.m. -5 pm Sunday hours vary by vendor