Mini-Flood 34: Tower Grove Farmers Market

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photograph by Jackie Johnson

Now in its 10th season, the Tower Grove Farmers Market represents all of the best things that a community market should be, including a beautiful park setting, fresh produce and food, arts, crafts, and live music performances.

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Dan Henrichs Photography, St. Louis

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photograph by Donna Burch

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photograph by Michelle Bates

In 2005, Patrick Horine started the Tower Grove Farmers Market based on the simple fact that he missed those of the city he had just left behind (San Francisco) and on the hunch that St. Louis could support such a venture (both in terms of buyers and sellers). In its first season, the Market was a modest affair, but as word spread, TGFM gradually grew to become the behemoth that it is today, with more than 4,000 visitors each week. The success of the Market has as much to do with Patrick’s thoughts on the food industry, as anything else. From the Market’s website, its non-profit mission is:

1. To give growers and producers of Missouri and Illinois agricultural commodities and other farm-related products alternative marketing opportunities.

2. To promote the sale of Missouri and Illinois-grown farm products.

3. To improve the variety, freshness, taste and nutritional value of produce available in the St. Louis area.

4. To make healthy, regionally produced foods accessible to lower-income residents.

5. To provide an educational forum for consumers to learn the uses and benefits of quality, locally grown or prepared food products.

6. To enhance the quality of life in the St. Louis area by providing a community activity which fosters social gathering and interaction

Yes, you read that correctly, Tower Grove Farmers Market is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, and truly a labor of love. Of course, this is also part of why it is so well-loved.

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photograph by Dawn Moss

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photograph by Ann Aurbach

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photograph by Joe Rakers

In addition to the Market, Patrick Horine’s other businesses in the area include the Local Harvest Grocery Store and Local Harvest Cafe and Catering, both on Morganford just steps from Tower Grove Park. The businesses, along with the Market, round out a platform providing much needed support and selling opportunities to local, organic and fair trade food producers. Each of Horine’s enterprises attempt to place the consumer one step closer to the producer, thereby reducing the costs of distribution and encouraging honest and accountable production practices. Environmental impact and community enrichment are also primary concerns of the businesses.

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Dan Henrichs Photography, St. Louis

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photograph by Donna Burch

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photograph by Theresa Harter

This is why, in January of 2014, when Patrick Horine and his business partner, Maddie Earnest, were faced with the seemingly insurmountable goal of raising a quick $120,000 in order to keep the Grocery Store and Cafe from closing, the local community responded with a grassroots effort to produce the funds needed. From a mixture of donation and investment, the community rallied behind the businesses which are now thriving. It should be noted that the initial financial difficulty resulted from troubled efforts to expand operations to other areas of the city, which although well attempted, was perhaps too much to tackle all at once.

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photograph by Michelle Bates

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photograph by Theresa Harter

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photograph by Dan Henrichs Photography, St. Louis

In any case, Tower Grove Farmers Market is gliding through its tenth season with no signs of stopping. On our visit, the Market was jam-packed, even during a sudden rain. Although TGFM competes with the inimitable Soulard Farmers Market for Saturday shoppers, you gain so much by visiting here that no other market can offer, including the peace of mind that your purchase has contributed as much as 85 cents of every dollar back into the local economy.

If you would like to contribute even more, consider making a donation to help sustain this valued city asset.

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photograph by Michelle Bates

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photograph by Sue Rakers

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Shelly Cendroski

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