'A lot of heritage': Delmar Loop produce stand forced to move | St. Louis Public Radio

'A lot of heritage': Delmar Loop produce stand forced to move

Oct 29, 2016

A produce stand that’s been a Delmar Loop institution for more than four decades is moving to a new location.

After 43 years at an outdoor market in a parking lot just northwest of Fitz’s, Long Acres Farm is being forced to move because it can no longer afford the rent.

Long-time customers greeted co-owner Debbie Schneider with a hug Saturday, before purchasing their potatoes, onions, lettuce, apples and pears at the old location for the last time.

“We have wonderful, phenomenal, loyal customers, and we’ve appreciated them all the way through,” Schneider said. “There are three generations shopping here now. We saw them in strollers when they were little.”

Schneider’s parents opened the produce stand at 6655 Delmar Boulevard in 1974. At the time University City owned the lot.

“They were the first ones (to have a stand),” Schneider said. “My father was the market master. U. City came and approached my father, wanted to start an outdoor market here. So there’s a lot of heritage going on. So it’s sad in that way.”

Now Schneider and her brother Jim run Long Acres Farm. After a couple of tough financial years they got behind on rent and utilities, and their landlord is no longer willing to work with them.

“It was stunning to us, and it’s sad,” Schneider said. “But we’re going to look at it as a total positive. Everybody at city hall has been super supportive trying to find us a location because they didn’t want us to leave.”

“So it’s sad but happy in a sense that we’re going to have a location with a little less (cost) so we’re not struggling on rent,” she added.

Customer and friend Sauravh "Sonny" Varma talks to Long Acres Farm co-owner Jim Schneider on the stand's last day at the Loop.
Credit Camille Phillips| St. Louis Public Radio

Starting November 3 Long Acres Farm will be located on the parking lot of All Saints Church in University City at 6403 Clemens Avenue, less than half a mile north of the Loop.

Schneider said they’ll continue to be open Thursday through Saturday year round, and keep the low prices their customers expect.

“We don’t make a lot of profit. We don’t. That’s our downfall. We try to keep everything very affordable,” Schneider said. “We try to do everything, fruits, veggies, everything so our customers can come and do all their shopping. Where when you see the outdoor markets that come in on Saturday mornings they only have specific things. They might have zucchini. Or greens. Which is great, and that’s organic. But we have people that can’t afford that.”

It’s a sentiment that retired customer Susan Wells-Souza appreciates. She’s been shopping at Long Acres Farm since it opened in the 70s.

“What’s happened with some of the farmers markets that are very fashionable — they’re not always in the price range of everyone. And these people try to keep a lid on the prices. And plus Jim grows a lot of fresh food,” Wells-Souza said.

Vendors with the Midtown Farmers Market will continue to be open on Saturdays at the Loop. Market manager Dee Henderson said their vendors moved to the Loop three years ago after they had to move from Clayton.

Follow Camille on Twitter: @cmpcamille.