Hello everyone! It's been a while since I posted a blog on Patch. A lot has been happening and I've gotten busier with an on-going project regarding changing the way Farmers Market Vendors are assessed permitting fees in St. Louis County by the Health Department. Two weeks ago I drafted a "Farmers Market Food Service Facility" Bill (FM-FSF) and presented to the County Council.
In order to host something as simple as a Tasting Fair at a Farmers Market in the County, many of our vendors are required to get extra permits, paying extra fees—even if they already have a health permit—to sell food at a Farmers Market. And, some of our vendors are charged more fees than a full service restaurant or grocery store for comparable services.
It's a long story and I won't go into all of the details now, but here's an example of what I'm talking about. A vendor like Waffle-licous, who makes Belgium Waffles at the Market, has already paid $315 in permitting fees for 4 hours of service/week for only 18 weeks--that's equal to over $900 a year in fees to just make and sell waffles. A full service, new restaurant operating 24/7 pays only $130 for a health permit for a full year!
These high, disproportionate fees are a burden on our small food entrepreneurs and farmers--to the point of sometimes discouraging business expansion or participation in a Farmers Market. Our Vendors lose sales because of the extra permit fees required for some of them to offer samples of their products. Grocery stores don't have to get extra permits in order to sample food. This is what I've been working to change in recent weeks.
In the meantime, the Market Season continues and our farmer's stalls are teeming with an array of amazing produce—and yes, we still have tomatoes! The fall is the best time to shop at a Farmers Market. Summer produce is still delicious and plentiful as the fall crops are harvested and added to the market baskets.
So, put on your jacket and scarf and come on over to the Clayton Farmer's Market Tasting Fair on Saturday, October 22 from 8:30am to 12:30pm. Warm your hands around the fire or sit in an old fashioned lawn chair and listen to the mighty fine music by the Lulus.
And, of course, don't forget to enjoy the morning as you sip and taste your way around the Market. Yummmm! We’ve got the goods and we’re a stop along the way to anywhere We're located between Brown Shoe and Straub's in Clayton at 8300 Maryland Ave. and 8282 Forsyth Blvd. www.claytonfarmersmarket.com