Inaugural Food & Farmer’s Expo: Big Crowd Samples Local Success!

By Nancy Smith, Board Member

Farm to Family Naturally


The driving rain on the morning of the first jointly-sponsored Food and Farmers Expo made things a little soggy for vendors who were setting up inside the Webster Groves Recreation Center, but the rain didn’t seem to affect attendance at the Expo as more than 1000 visitors made their way through the numerous food & farmer exhibits. Vendors all stated that they never had a lull throughout the six-hour Expo.  Attendees were enthusiastic and enjoyed tasting the many wonderful locally farm-grown or St. Louis-produced items.  Many families lingered for hours as they browsed and sampled the homegrown offerings and purchased fresh, local food to take home.


The Healthy Planet magazine and Sappington Farmers Market conceived the idea for the Expo, and joined forces to sponsor it, because both saw a need for a forum where consumers could “Shake the Hand That Feeds Them”  (Michael Pollan, author of “In Defense of Food.”).


Local farmers and producers enthusiastically signed on to the project and everyone worked together to make it a fun and interesting day for the whole family.

Vendors included farmers like:

Russ Kremer, who is a nationally-known advocate for family farms as well as an owner of Sappington Farmers Market.

Todd Geisert, a fifth generation pig farmer from Washington, MO.

Reisner Farms, a local farm who prides itself on growing the tenderest beef imaginable.

Shepherd’s Ridge, from southeast Missouri, who is using its beautiful farm to grow 100% grass-fed beef.

Good Earth Egg Company, a multi-generational family farm who have learned how to raise large quantities of eggs using natural and sustainable methods.

Chad Rensing, a young pork producer from Illinois who is working with Wenneman’s sausage to provide homegrown meats for their delicious, locally-produced sausages.

Many other farmers and food producers had booths at the Expo and were available to discuss their production methods and philosophies with consumers.  The Sappington Farmers Market booth hosted a steady stream of farmers like Ted Neuner and Darvin Green who attended just to have the opportunity to meet consumers.

A favorite booth of many of the attendees was the Maplewood Richmond Heights Schools booth led by Robert Rusan,  MRH High School’s chef.  Robert brought a group of MRH students who had prepared a variety of tasty dishes prepared with locally-produced ingredients as well as potato salad made with potatoes they had grown themselves.  The students even gave out samples of yogurt they had made themselves. The presentation was creative and heartwarming, and many festival-goers were heard to say “How can we get that in my childrens’ school?”

In addition to the booths, there were educational presentations throughout the day.  Randy Wood, manager of Sappington Farmers’ Market, led off the presentations with a discussion of Local Food Distribution that was of particular interest to people who are thinking of starting to market their farm products or produce special local items.

Nancy Smith, also of Sappington Farmers Market and Farm to Family Naturally, gave an informal presentation that highlighted her life experiences in feeding a large family with her own homegrown products, preserved for winter use.


In order to ensure that participants would know all the most recent regulations concerning canning safety, the University of Missouri Extension had their experts on hand to start off the afternoon presentations.  They were followed by Sue Baird, the president of Missouri Organic Association, who gave an eye-opening presentation to an excellent turnout of concerned parents and consumers.  The presentations ended on a high note when Russ Kremer engaged a large group with his dynamic presentation about the challenges of farming on a small scale and enabling young farmers to stay on their land.


Many other businesses and numerous food-related nonprofit groups rounded out the lineup of participants for the Food and Farms Expo.  All expressed a great deal of satisfaction with the high interest level and enthusiastic support they received from the families and individuals who attended.


Sappington Farmers’ Market is located at 8400 Watson Rd., between Elm and Laclede Station Rd.