The outdoor debut of the Tower Grove Farmers' Market, which was originally scheduled for April 11, has been pushed back to the first Saturday in May, but supporters can still get their fix of local goods delivered straight to their doorsteps.
Two weeks ago, the popular St. Louis farmers' market rolled out a series of delivery boxes after cancelling the remainder of its weekly indoor winter market dates and postponing the start of its outdoor market season. The maximum capacity of around 250 orders has sold each week so far, and the number of boxes available and delivery radius has since grown to meet the demand.
“I wanted to come up with a way for our vendors to be able to sell their products, especially some of our farmers who are growing fresh greens, mushrooms and those sorts of things,” says Patrick Horine, co-founder of Tower Grove Farmers’ Market. “They plan ahead and have a lot of product, so we tried to figure out a way we could get the food to our shoppers.”
Initially, Horine wanted to offer a drive-thru in Tower Grove Park but found there would be a difficult set of challenges between traffic and social distancing. Then, Eat Here St. Louis reached out and offered to do deliveries. According to Horine, the local company typically works with local farmers and food producers to deliver food to area restaurants.
“They found themselves in a situation where they weren’t doing any deliveries, so they were able to help us,” Horine says. “The way that it works is that we take the orders. I’m working with the vendors on what we can offer each week to sell through the website, and Eat Here St. Louis is handling the fulfillment side of things.”
This week, 350 boxes are available, and Horine hopes to assemble up to 500 in subsequent weeks. As the growing season advances, more products will become available to disperse. Initially, Horine worked with around 20 farmers and vendors, and he anticipates that the list will grow to include 70 to 80 percent or so of the total market participants including Ivan’s Organic Fig Farm, Marshall Family Farms and Ozark Forest Mushrooms.
The delivery radius for the boxes was originally within 10 miles of the park, but has since expanded to a cut-off at Interstate 270.
The program began with four different variety boxes to choose from and has expanded to 10 with optional add-ons including Kuva coffee, farm-fresh chicken eggs and bread. Choose from options such as ready-to-eat packages, assorted veggie boxes and a meat box with items such as a whole chicken, ground beef and bacon. A “Clean Living” box includes items such as Confluence Kombucha tempeh and kimchi, as well as Beets & Bones juices.
“We’re trying to have different price options and just mixes that would make sense for different people. There will always be a plant-based box as well as an omnivore box. Outside of that, there are different variations,” Horine says.
Horine also co-owns Local Harvest Grocery, which has adapted its service model to accommodate social distancing guidelines in light of the coronavirus as well. Patrons can currently call in and pay ahead for products, which are available for curbside pickup the next day.
“What we’re seeing is how resilient the local food system is during a crisis like this. Support keeps it in place and we’re able to keep fresh food coming in on a regular basis,” says Horine. “We’re not only helping our farmers stay in business, but we’re also supporting the local food system and it’s the first time we’re seeing how important it can be.”
Tower Grove Farmers' Market, tgfarmersmarket.com