News Real, June 1, 2006
Props to Ferguson: The RFT overlooked the Ferguson Farmers' Market in its summer event round-up and then Randall Roberts did the same in "Produce Row." I appreciate you covering the issue of farmers' markets, but I'm disappointed that you left out Ferguson, the current Missouri Market of the Year.
The Ferguson market has been going strong for four years now and unlike Clayton, which is starting to lose farmers, we're actually gaining quite a few. To further build our vendor list, we're sponsoring a grower-development program that identifies and fosters nontraditional farmers, and we're working closely with our current vendors to better market their goods.
I'm not surprised that once again north county was left out of your coverage. We usually are. But on this topic, I think you really missed an opportunity to present a complete picture of the story, and to see a very successful and innovative market in action. Next time please check us out at www.fergusonfarmersmarket.com. Thanks.
Shannon Howard, executive director, Ferguson Special Business District
A better way: Thank you for this timely and necessary piece. We can applaud everyone who chooses economies based on locally grown food. However, if the only food available to lower-income folks is shrink-wrapped lettuce flown from haciendas in California that employ migrant labor and guzzle petrochemical fertilizers, then everyone involved needs to think twice about our local food economy. Another farmers' market in a foodie neighborhood keeps the wheels turning for a system that reduces farmers to mere capitalists, competing with their fellow producers for a slim profit against Whole Foods' command of the organic market. I recognize my own complicity as a consumer in these uneasy models, and more now than ever I also recognize the need for a middle way.
The best suggestion I've heard comes from New Roots Urban Farm, where the collective of farmers is making real strides to organize a low-income, locally supplied, organic farmers' market right on their land, near Old North St. Louis. This will augment the importance of the three local organic markets, whose farmers will have a chance to offer produce at wholesale (or better) rates to the farm, which will sell it at better-than-Soulard prices. An Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) machine for food stamps will make the market less of a novelty and more of a weekly reality to the community.
The food security of our community effects all of us. If farmers are supported, there can be many markets, enough for everyone to have access to local, quality food.
Susannah Halliday, St. Louis
Oxymoronic: It is nice to see more farmers' markets in the St. Louis area. I do not think that it has reached a saturation point yet. Your article brought out some interesting facts. The Soulard Farmers' Market is not truly a "farmers' market," because sellers are not selling their own produce. Your article states that there are 44 resellers and 22 growers at that market. This speaks volumes. If people truly want to buy fresh, locally grown produce, Soulard Market is not necessarily the place to do so. And I'm sure there are more than 15 produce growers in a 120-mile radius.
Mary Ford, St. Louis
News Real, May 24, 2006
The crackdown continues: I found Ben Westhoff's "Crackdown in Belleville"while searching for local articles related to Club Three-1-Three, which was shut down last month on investigation of an anonymous letter, with a public hearing to follow. The city has been trying to get rid of Three-1-Three since it moved to 20 Mascoutah Avenue in late 2004. The owner, Don Bailey, has been repeatedly shut down for ridiculous reasons, denied a 2 a.m. liquor license and bombarded with police presence outside the club when getting ready to close.
Rumor has it that part of the reason Three-1-Three was shut down is the fact that they host the weekly Fu-Fops concerts. When they refused requests to stop hosting the shows, they were shut down on one of the biggest weekends for downtown Belleville bars, the kickoff for Fusion Fest.
I thought I would let you know that your article has been realized in Belleville once again. There is a lot more to this story than meets the eye.
Nate Northway, Swansea, Illinois