UPDATED at 3 P.M. with information from the first day of the program.
Under a new deal between Metro transit and a mobile farmers market, riders can now shop for locally grown fruit, veggies, eggs and cheese at bus and train stops.
The roving farmers market set up today at the Delmar Loop MetroLink station. Later in the week, it will move to Metro’s transit center at Riverview Drive and Hall Street, and the bustling North Hanley and Emerson Park MetroLink stations.
“It is really going to resemble what people are used to seeing at farmers markets,” said Tim Woods, community sales and market manager of the fledgling Farm to Family Naturally Mobile Market.
Farm to Family shares resources with the Sappington Farmers' Market grocery store, Woods said, but beyond that, the two are largely separate entities.
The mobile farmers market has rolled to the Eastside Health District office in East St. Louis and the Learning Tree Intergenerational Center in north St. Louis, Woods said. The market, he said, went well enough to consider pairing up with Metro.
Woods stressed that the group’s focus will be locally grown produce during the growing season. But not all of the produce sold during the inaugural days of its partnership with Metro will be produced in Missouri or Southern Illinois.
The prospect of locally grown fruits and vegetables appealed to first-day shopper Renee Flanders of St. Louis, who plunked down $7.58 for an order that included summer squash, red and yellow onions, baby carrots, bananas, oranges and apples.
Locally grown is "very, very important," said Flanders, adding that she expects to return to the mobile farmers market in the future.
Woods said he initially approached Metro to sell the transit agency on the farmers market idea. Metro spokeswoman Dianne Williams said the agency will provide the space at no cost to Farm to Family under the agreement and will not share in any sales revenue.
It may prove a blueprint for allowing future concessions on transit property, Williams said. Metro currently has three concessions - including a convenience store and food sales - throughout its system.
Nationally, about 12 percent of transit-bus centers and 29 percent of rail transit stations have some form of concession - including newsstands, dry cleaners and food stands.
The four stations where Metro's farmers markets will be set up are located where some transit riders don’t have easy access to fresh fruit or vegetables, Williams said.
Metro prohibits eating on MetroBuses and MetroLink trains, and the rule will remain in effect, Williams said. Transit riders will have to wait until they get to their destination to dig in to the raw fruit and vegetables.
“They’re leaving with a bag full of groceries,” Woods said.
While Farm to Family encourages shoppers to bring their own bags, Woods said the markets will have bags available.
Bus and light-rail commuters should count on seeing the farmers market through the end of October to coincide with the local growing season, Woods said. During its hours of operation, the market will be found on the parking lots at four locations.
Prices are expected to be competitive with other farmers markets and grocery stores, Woods said. The market will accept cash, debit cards, credit cards and EBT or link cards.
The Mobile Market will travel between the following Metro Transit Centers:
• Delmar Loop MetroLink station, 660 Rosedale, St. Louis. Hours: Tuesdays, 1 to 4 p.m.
• Riverview-Hall Transit Center, Riverview Drive and Hall Street, St. Louis. Hours: Wednesdays 9 a.m. to noon.
• North Hanley MetroLink station, 4398 Hanley Road, Berkeley. Hours: Wednesdays, 3 to 5:30 p.m.
• Emerson Park MetroLink station, 929 North 15th Street, East St. Louis. Hours: Fridays 9 a.m. to noon.