Locavores, rejoice! The Schlafly Farmers' Market's summer market opens today at Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue, Maplewood; 314-241-2337) from 4 to 7 p.m.
This market is one of the few Wednesday markets in the area, and it focuses exclusively on locally grown and made products. Gut Check got in touch with Brian DeSmet, who organizes the market to find out what's new this year.
"It's the summer market," DeSmet says, "though it may not feel like it quite yet. The last two years, we've had generally mild winters, where it's not that cold, and there's not too much rain. We got a lot of rain and snow this year, so that's delayed everything."
In spite of this year's long winter, DeSmet expects 28 vendors to be a part of the market today. The vendors are optimistic, and those who grow warm weather veggies like lettuce will be bringing whatever small amounts they have.
"Farmers have been trying to extend the season through greenhouses, so that will allow us to have some spinach and lettuce," DeSmet says. "There will also be local eggs, 'cause this is the time of year that chickens are getting back into the groove."
To bide some time until Spring plants are ready to be harvested, some vendors will be selling produce they've had in storage for the winter, like sweet potatoes and dried corn for popcorn.
This season, the market will also be adding some new vendors. I Scream Cakes will be there today with vegan cupcakes, and Pie Oh My will join the market in the next few weeks with pies that use Schlafly beer. Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop, will be selling their ice pops made with produce from local farms starting in May.
DeSmet expects a smaller than usual crowd today of 300 to 400 people, due to chilly weather and the late start to Spring. Once the market is in full swing, expect crowds of 500 to 600 people and 33 vendors selling produce grown within an hour and a half of St. Louis. It doesn't get much fresher than that.