Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

City Greens Market: Sprouting and Growing Anew

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

City Greens Market: Sprouting and Growing Anew

Article excerpt

The little grocery store that could is testing its wings and leaving its nest.

City Greens Market, located in the Grove in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood, has been serving the community for eight years. The beginnings could not have been more humble: It bought community supported agriculture boxes from local farmers and then used a grant to sell them at below-cost prices to people in the neighborhood.

It was a way to bring wholesome, fresh produce to people who otherwise had a hard time getting it.

"Having access to the food is important, because this was a food desert. We had access to potato chips but not fresh food," said Resenda Sykes, who began as a customer and is now co-director.

The boxes were handed out in the offices of the Missouri Department of Social Services building around the corner from the current location at 4260 Manchester Avenue. After a year of that, the program graduated to buying goods from farmers and setting up tables in the hallway of the building. Then it made the move to selling out of a larger space in the basement.

For the past couple of years, the market has been in its current location, an actual storefront with shelves full of goods. But the idea is still the same.

"The underlying philosophy is that eating healthy food is good for you and good for the neighborhood," said the other co-director, Dylan Naylor.

And the price is still less than it costs at other stores. Lentils are 61 cents a pound. Kidney beans are 51 cents a pound. Windcrest Dairy yogurt is one dollar.

But this is where the leaving-the-nest part comes in. Until recently the program was sponsored by St. Francis Community Services, part of Catholic Charities of St. Louis, which helped with securing grants, accounting, insurance and the like. With the ending of that relationship, City Greens has now become its own nonprofit organization.

Karen Wallensak, executive director of St. Francis Community Services, said the market needed to be independent in order to thrive and make real-time decisions in the retail world.

In addition, she said, the market now serves more affluent members of the community as well as those who are impoverished, which strays from St. …

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