November 26, 2020

Webster Groves Farmers Market sustains community, sells fresh produce

COLLEEN DOHERTY / The Journal Shoppers approach a stand at the Webster Groves Farmers Market on Aug. 11.

The strong smell of popcorn permeates the blocked-off section of Old Orchard Avenue. Every Thursday from 3-7 p.m., the street is home to the Webster Groves Farmers Market. Bright green wagons can be seen carrying young children down the street as the Webster Groves community comes together to buy and eat local food.

The market also features a local band, chef demonstration and a kids’ activity tent. The market offers the community not only an opportunity to socialize with neighbors, but to buy locally grown food and talk with the people who grew it.

Angela Foley, market master, fell in love with local food years ago when she lived in California.

“That’s when I first got a glance at what it means to eat local,” Foley said. “I’m just a foodie at heart.”

Foley takes time each week to shop at the market, but understands that some customers hesitate to buy local food due to higher prices.

Jackie Schirn gets as many local products as she can at the Webster Groves market, but also shops at the Kirkwood Farmers Market.

“It’s a delight to meet people who grow your food…People who really care about what they’re doing,” Schirn said. “It comes from their heart and their sweat.”

After visiting other area farmers markets, Roger Grow, Webster Groves Director of Planning and Development, was the first to suggest a farmers market for the Webster Groves community.

“It’s an opportunity for people to get out of their houses and to come into a special shopping experience, meet their friends and have their kids experience locally-grown produce,” said Grow.

Providing the community with that opportunity was one reason Grow suggested starting a farmers market.

“When you go into small shops in Webster, it’s not uncommon for you to be able to engage the proprietor in conversation about what they’re selling,” Grow said. “A farmers market is similar from that.”

Mayor Gerry Welch believes the market provides a good place for the

community to gather and interact.

“People get hooked on this market,” said Welch. “Once they come, they are here every week.”

Jean Scholtes, KIND Soap owner,  a vendor at the farmers market last season, now has a small storefront in Webster Groves next to Tropical Moose sno-cone stand on Garden Ave. Welch said she would like to see other market vendors, such as Farm Fresh Cupcakes, open a permanent store in the area. Wissinger, owner of Farm Fresh Cupcakes, would also like to take that step in the future but for now, she knows her cupcakes made from local ingredients are appreciated in the farmers market setting.

Dave Sanders, market board chair, hopes that the farmers market will serve as a catalyst to bring more people into the Webster Groves business district. This is another advantage Grow thought Webster Groves would have from supporting a farmers market.

“Hopefully it will bring new people into the business district and expose them to the other retail establishments that are there, thereby strengthening our local economy,” said Grow.

Pat Richards, owner of  Embroider the Occasion, became involved as a market board member to support small businesses.

“Being a small business myself, I feel that it’s crucial to be involved with supporting all the local homegrown businesses,” said Richards.

Though the market is still young, just 2 years old, Welch said she thinks it will keep gaining popularity.

Vegetables available: tomatoes,potatoes, green beans, okra, peppers, onions, cucumber, zucchini, yellow squash and egg plant

Fruits available: peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe

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