I first heard about City Greens Market, which opened at 4260 Manchester in March 2014, earlier this summer from CWE-based graphic designer Liz Sullivan. I finally stopped by a couple of Saturdays ago and now know why Liz became a fan. City Greens offers affordable food that's grown locally - as close as 5 minutes away, and no farther away than farms in Missouri and Illinois.
It took a Skandelarious Grant from Washington University and a matching gift from Catholic Charities to enable Midtown Catholic Charities to open a storefront in The Grove District. For 6 years prior to the move, Catholic Charities operated a food pantry at 1202 S. Boyle providing fresh healthy food to those who did not have access to it. City Greens Market was located in The Grove District as it's considered a "food desert." Residents of the neighborhood do not have access to a grocery store that's within walking distance.
When I asked Assistant Market Coordinator Resendra Sykes, middle above, who the customers are, she replied, "We are here for the poor and underprivileged, but we service anyone. This market serves a melting pot of people," and that's what I observed when shopping myself.
Not photographed in this blog post is Market Coordinator Dylan Nailor. Everyone working at the market, other than Sykes and Nailor, is a volunteer. That includes students from St. Louis University who are studying nuitrition. They do community service at City Greens, help find grant money and plan fundraising events. One Saturday I was introduced to Lori Jones, an instructor of Nutrition and Dietetics at SLU, who was shopping at the market. She explained that SLU students in the program also learn how to write grant proposals as part of the course, a valuable skill that's always in demand.
Everything at City Greens is sold at cost, there is no mark up. Sykes said, "If it costs $1, we sell it for $1." The market helps farmers who can count on a place to bring their produce, and because everything is local, customers learn to eat seasonally.
Meat and poultry, which comes from farms in Missouri and Illinois, is hormone- and additive-free. "Our chicken is like none other," said Sykes. The lamb chops I bought for an unbelievable $6.23 a pound were delicious too.
The dairy case holds Ozark Mountain Creamery Milk, $2.93 a gallon, Windcrest Dairy yogurt from Trenton, Illinois, as well as locally-made cheeses.
Local honey, homemade pickles, and nut butters from East Wind Community in Tecumseh, MO fill one section of the store. There is fresh pasta in a freezer case too.
City Greens Market is sustained by a membership structure. Yearly membership is free for those making $30,000 and under, or $180 for those making over $30,000. It's estimated that you'll earn your membership back after 5 to 8 weeks. Sykes said that anyone is welcome to try the market a few times before deciding to join.
City Greens Market, 4260 Manchester (just east of Sweetie Pie's) is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, when the store is closed, they take a food truck to Compton and Chouteau Avenues, another food desert. For more information, call (314) 833-3811.
P..S. - Non-metered parking is available in front of the store. There is also a parking lot across the street.