Local market offers solution for growing ‘food deserts’ across St. Louis

ST. LOUIS – Bananas, pears, tomatoes, you name it – since childhood, everyone’s been taught to make sure they eat their fruits and veggies. But what happens when those needed nutrients become a luxury and are too far away to buy?

City Greens Market co-director Dylan Naylor calls it a “food desert.”

“It one of the things that happens when you have a food system based off of profit and is not based on providing a necessary important thing for the community,” Naylor said.

The possibility of food deserts has become a harsh reality for some as 16 Shop N Save stores will be closing and—for now—will not be replaced. The lack of a local grocer will force residents in some communities to travel miles away to buy those necessities.

“That’s kinds of how City Greens came about from a community standpoint, that this is something our community needs so we need to provide for ourselves,” Naylor said.

Since 2008, the small organization buys local produce and sells it at wholesale prices for The Grove community.

In what started out as a mission based out of a Catholic school basement now supplies needed nutrients to more than a thousand residents, including Chris Bowman.

“Before City Greens was in the neighborhood, really hard to fine produce,” Bowman said. “We need 10 more City Greens in neighborhoods in north city and deep south St. Louis.”

It’s that mission, co-director Alex Wilson said he can’t guarantee, but he’s hopeful to lend a helping hand and spark the minds of resident’s in other neighborhoods to do the same.

“This place is an example of localization of food and the food system coming together as it ought to,” Wilson said.

As corporate grocery stores find new ways to stay open, places like City Greens Market will keep its doors unlocked to fill the void left behind.

“We need to make sure we have a healthy community.”

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