Almost every Saturday during the spring, summer, and fall, I wake up early and head to Tower Grove Farmers’ Market in St. Louis. It’s become a tradition that I look forward to every week even though for the most part, it’s the same vendors.
Still, you never know what you’ll find there. I usually walk in with a few items on my shopping list and I end up adding more impulse purchases based on what I see. Sometimes there will be a huge tin washtub filled with dew-kissed melons. Other times there will be little blue boxes filled with bright orange squash blossoms. The market is as much a feast for the eyes as it is the stomach.I just stopped by the Tuesday farmers’ market for the first time and I loved it. It’s smaller than the Saturday market but you can find equally good vendors, all of whom have fresh, local produce and lots of enthusiasm. I almost like the Tuesday market better because you can talk more to the farmers and vendors and you don’t feel as rushed. Saturday can be a bit chaotic, as anyone who goes to the market knows.
That’s why I wanted to provide some tips about attending the market. Yeah, you can just walk in and see everything at once, but it helps to have some guidelines. Then you won’t miss the best food or get bogged down in lines. That still might happen, but if you follow these tips, I think you’ll have a more enjoyable experience:
1.) Get there early. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s hard to get up on a Saturday. Still, set your alarm and try to get to the market by 9. It opens at 8 but there’s a free yoga class that goes on from 9-10 in the field behind the market. Once that’s over, the crowds get twice as large. Oh also, you should probably go to that yoga class. It’s pretty relaxing.2.) Do a once-around first. It’s easy to want to buy the first things that look good. The problem is, there could be something even better and more reasonably priced around the corner. That’s why I take my time and give everything a once over before I commit. Sometimes I’ll spring for particularly good produce early on, especially if I’m buying it in bulk. But usually, I shop for deals. 3.) Stay hydrated. One of my favorite things to do at the market is to get a big cup of lemonade or iced tea. I usually buy from the woman who tells me that she’s had $2 lemonade for more than 10 years. I’m blanking on her name but you’ll hear her before you see her. She calls out “fresh lemonade” periodically.4.) Get a breakfast sandwich from Kounter Kulture. This is a MUST. Go early, because if you don’t, the line is way too long. I like to order the grilled cheese with sea salt and honey, but you can also get a breakfast sandwich with bacon and egg. Kounter Kulture gets its bread from a local French bakery, so you know it’s good. 5.) Check out a food truck. The food truck schedule varies at the farmers’ market, but on any given day it could includes popular vendors including Balkan Treat Box. I just got a pide, or Turkish flatbread, from them yesterday and it was so delicious. I ate it on the grass before I did my Tuesday shopping. I’m tearing up a little as I remember how good it was.6.) Realize that dessert can be breakfast, and embrace it. One of my favorite things to do is not buy enough groceries during the week so I have to eat breakfast at the farmers’ market. Whoops. I’d highly recommend a pastry from Prioritized Pastries or a popsicle from Whisk. Prioritized Pastries specializes in vegan pastries with a menu that varies weekly. The hummingbird cake (pictured below) is one of my favorite items that I’ve tried. I love all Whisk popsicles but the avocado (also pictured below) is one of my all-time favorites.7.) Rub elbows with locals. This is easy to do if you take your dessert/breakfast and go sit on the steps near where a band starts playing at 10. You can chat with people if you feel like it and it might lead to situations like the one below. So. many. cute. dogs. 8.) Explore the park. Tower Grove Farmers’ Market happens to be in one of the prettiest parks in the city. I’d recommend bringing a cooler so you can walk around Tower Grove Park before or after you shop. There’s a pretty pond across the field from the market and lots of tree-lined paths that are perfect for strolling. Conclusion
So yeah. Those are my Tower Grove Farmers’ Market tips. It’s not an exhaustive list but I think if you follow the guidelines, you’ll have a more enjoyable experience. I’d definitely recommend stopping by if you’re a local or even if you’re just visiting St. Louis. It’s a great place to see some of the region’s best produce and get a sense of the community. Plus, there’s delicious food and cute dogs.
Here’s a song to get you started on your farmers’ market journey.