by Holly Fann
Rain, hail and tornadoes have seriously screwed over the many vendors at local farmers' markets this year. With only a few precious sunny days thus far falling on market days, many vendors feel sales have been significantly slower than last year.
Add the crappy weather happening during the rest of the week as well, and you create problems for many farmers, such as Matthew Kuhns from Veggie Boy Produce. "We can't get into the fields when it's raining, and our strawberries have really suffered due to all this wind," Kuhns says.
Most of the farmers drive long distances from rural areas to bring in their produce. Mast's Amish Bakery and Produce hires a driver to bring produce to and from the markets, an expense that must be paid in order to operate regardless of whether people buy that day.
Tornado sirens canceled last week's Maplewood Farmers' Market. "I had just finished setting up," says Lucian Matouchek from The Farmers' Larder, "and then the sirens went off, and I immediately started packing up. It was like watching a movie in reverse."
Some vendors have opted to stay away from the market altogether on days they would normally be selling. "We never missed a market day last year," says Agi Groff, co-owner of 4 Seasons Bakery, "but this year, we've missed a few due to weather. The spring weather really stinks this year." Says Aaron Groff: "I didn't feel like dying in a tornado. My ten by ten foot tent doesn't really offer much protection."
The good news is that the markets will operate through rain and generally crappy conditions as long as there is no danger to customers. Let's hope for sunny skies in our future.
The Webster Groves Farmers' Market runs every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Big Bend Boulevard and South Old Orchard Avenue, Webster Groves, 63119.