No matter if you’re searching for Big Boys, Pink Ladies, Mortgage Lifters or multi-colored heirloom varieties, St Louis’ area farmers have the tomatoes you crave and the best place to find them is at farm markets. Among the farm markets dotting the greater St Louis area is Soulard Market, the oldest continually operating community farm market west of the Mississippi, which is considered a destination not to mention the epicenter for homegrown tomatoes.
Since St Louis’ colonial beginnings farmers and artisans have come to Soulard to sell their produce along with a unique assortment of products, including artisan cheeses, smoked meats, farm fresh eggs and on occasion, live chickens. Today Soulard Market is open year- round however, late summer is when tomatoes are in the most abundant.
To get the pick of the crop and to immerse yourself in the total market experience plan to shop on Saturday, the day the Soulard booms with activity. Street musicians entertain while the sounds of vendors hawking their goods ring out over the crowds who stroll through the market’s four wings that converge into the Grand Hall. The Grand Hall houses a bakery, spice shop, florist, snack concessions and Frandeka’s Meat Market, which has operated at Soulard since the early 1900s. The Grand Hall is the place to grab a cup of joe with a donut or a beer and a brat before or after shopping.
To get the pick of the crop plan to arrive early. And don’t forget to bring an extra shopping bag or basket to help carry home the bevy of tomatoes along with the other great market buys you’ll find.