What I Do: Patrick Horine of the Tower Grove Farmers' Market
Patrick Horine launched the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market in 2006 with 13 vendors. Today, there are more than 60 with everything from organic produce to chicken coop rentals. The co-founder of Local Harvest Grocery has launched several successful projects, but he’s had his fair share of failures. Still, that hasn’t deterred him from new endeavors: a Tuesday night rush hour at Tower Grove Farmers’ Market and a monthly farmers market at The Boulevard in Richmond Heights.
“When I started, my idea was this would be a small Saturday event. I actually envisioned myself just taking a book to the park on Saturdays and hanging out and letting the market do its thing. But it was obvious right away it was going to be a more involved effort.”
“We’re an open public market, so we get some unusual visitors sometimes. We’ve had improper clothing – just not enough on a man once. We had to ask him to go put on some clothes. We’ve had things like lightning strike a tree in the market.”
“When the market ends at 12:30 p.m., it’s only been operating for four-and-a-half hours, but we’ve been on site maybe seven hours at that point. But you’re destroyed, and that night, you can’t do anything. You just go home and lay down.”
“We encourage the shoppers to talk to the growers. They might have a table full of produce that is 95 percent organic, and they might have some plums on the table that have been sprayed. We can’t point that out to everyone; we don’t know what they’re bringing every week. … The customers I know who’ve engaged the farmers, they have compiled their list of favorites. They know what they’re getting, and it’s a matter of building those relationships with the farmer.”
“There are things I look for each year seasonally. When the raspberries are in season, then it’s Biver Farms or Buila Farm. When Ivan has his figs, then I’m there getting figs. When Murray’s Orchard brings the pluots, I look for those. … After apricot season, Ozark Forest Mushrooms makes this incredible apricot conserve, and I’ll go buy several jars of that to get me through the year.”
“The most difficult part of [failure] is the effect it has on others. When we had our farmers market – the one we did downtown – that just was immediately obvious it wasn’t going to work. We stuck it out for a season, and the vendors who stuck it out with us – the gratitude I had to them for sticking it out with me, but also how bad I felt for them that they were there – they were doing it to support me.”
“I now know how incredibly different the restaurant business is. The grocery store we opened [in Kirkwood] – I wouldn't have put a restaurant in it. But at the same time, I don’t regret putting a restaurant in it. If I had gone along all the while and everything had been an amazing success, I wouldn’t have learned some important things.”
“Looking back at when we went through the recession in 2008 and the years after that, we were able to tout local as being good for the economy because it is. It keeps money in the region, and I think that spoke to a lot of people that they could help the economy and local folks.”
“We are going to take our TGFM acronym and start a separate offshoot called To Grow Farmers’ Markets. We are not going to rush into anything, but we’re going to be available to discuss [market] opportunities with municipalities or neighborhoods or existing markets that maybe want some help.”
Tower Grove Farmers’ Market
Tuesdays – 4 to 7 p.m., Saturdays – 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Tower Grove Park, St. Louis, tgfarmersmarket.com
The Boulevard Farmers’ Market
First Sunday of the month, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Boulevard, Richmond Heights, Facebook: The Boulevard Farmers’ Market
Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine.
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