Farmers Crystal and Eric Stevens, previously of La Vista CSA Farm in Godfrey, Illinois, and EarthDance Farms in Ferguson, Missouri, are now aiming to bring more locally grown food-and-drink products to the St. Louis area. This spring, the husband-and-wife team launched Flourish, a farm and plant nursery along with a garden design and education business.
With the support of La Vista, including farm manager Phill Beile, the Stevens are growing produce for Flourish in the farm’s high tunnel and on a portion of its land, as well as on land owned by a neighbor. In addition to vending their produce and value-added products at the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market in St. Louis, the Stevens’ produce appears on some of the freshest menus around town, including Kounter Kulture, Indie Eatery, Bulrush and Vicia.
Tell us about Flourish’s value-added products. We’re doing plant starts, apothecary herbal products like small-batch botanical teas and elderberry syrup with Echinacea, dried herbs, grill rubs and seasoning blends.
Why were you interested in launching a product line? We’ve been vending [at the Tower Grove Farmers' Market] on and off since its inception. Over the years, we’ve sold things like herbal extracts and herbal salves, lip balm, lotions, soaps and artwork. We’ve also been vending those same items at festivals, expos and farmers’ markets and events. At the farmers’ market, you can get pretty much a complete grocery list when it comes to stocking your pantry and your fridge. I want to encourage people to look at the broad spectrum of their [grocery] list and find out who sources [those items] locally. If we want a robust food scene, we need to encourage people to shop local.
What produce will you be selling at the market this month? In June we’ll have baby root vegetables, edible flowers, spring greens, baby squash, kale, rainbow chard, scallions, sugar-snap peas and specialty greens like Asian mustard greens, radicchio and orach, an edible, colorful green.
What else do you have on the horizon? My third book, Your Edible Yard, will be released this fall; it focuses on how to transform your yard into an edible oasis. As a precursor to the book launch, we've been combining our workshops to offer day-long gardening intensives on how to transform your yard into an edible oasis. We focus on soil health, sheet mulching, choosing the right annuals and perennials, and maintaining landscapes through weed suppression and water retention. We’ll be selling permaculture-inspired plants, nitrogen-fixing plants and fruit-bearing shrubs.