Farm Fresh

Fall Into Familiar Foods

In any previous year, a Chesterfield-associated article about farm fresh items obviously would have highlighted the city’s iconic Rombach Farm and Pumpkin Patch. Alas, this summer, Rombach family members closed their operations indefinitely. For decades, the business at 18639 Olive Street Road offered produce, hayrides, children’s activities, a country store and lots of photo ops. Through teary eyes, many Chesterfield families will be searching for new pumpkin destinations, ushering in new traditions this year.

For starters, farm items are as close as local Dierbergs grocery stores, which carry fresh produce, such as the herbs, vegetables and mushrooms grown by Utterback Farms in Middletown, Mo. For tomatoes, corn, peaches and watermelons, Dierbergs also partners with local farmers, such as Bader Farms, Meyer Family Farm, Ochs Melon Co. and Relleke Farm.

Local Schnucks store managers celebrate selling locally grown items from farms and orchards in seven states.

When specifically in the mood for fresh Italian foods, follow the aroma of fresh spices into Viviano’s in Chesterfield. The grocery store carries cheeses, olive oils, vinegars, imported prosciutto, artisan-cured meat products, frozen stuffed pastas, house-made lasagna and tiramisu, and refrigerated, pre-cut dishes. They also have baked goods, such as pizzelle, biscotti, amaretti and sfogliatine.

Some West St. Louis County residents like to pick out fresh produce at nearby farmers markets in Ellisville, Wildwood, Eureka, Kirkwood and St. Charles. One everyday option is produce-centric Fresh Thyme Farmers Market at 13957 Manchester Road, which offers Midwestern-grown products. A second year-round, fresh food source is The Fruit Stand at 14433 Manchester Road, a family-owned store with seasonal goods, local vegetables, garden herbs and preserves from small vendors.

Fresh meats in Chesterfield can be secured at The Smokehouse Market in the Valley, along with house-made soups, salads, pickles, olives and desserts.

Get homegrown produce at Stuckmeyer’s Farm Market and Greenhouse, a fourth-generation family-owned vegetable farm located between Fenton and Arnold at the intersection of Highway 141 and Highway 21. During the season, they sell green onions, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, cucumbers, blackberries, beets, green beans, sweet corn, peaches, watermelon and cantaloupe.

In addition to fresh produce, the Stuckmeyer team opens their pumpkin patch and Fort Spooky September 30 through October 31. They host Halloween “Farm Fun Days” on weekends during October and offer for purchase pumpkins, apples, fresh fruits, vegetables, gourds, corn stalks, Indian corn, straw, garden mums, kettle corn, hot dogs and caramel apples. An inflatable slide, hayrides and pony rides also will be available.

On September 30, a Budweiser Clydesdale will be in the pumpkin patch from 11 a.m. to noon. This will be the third year for this special event, which includes taking pictures with the beloved horse.

Additionally, Stuckmeyer’s hosts their 20th Annual Antique Tractor Show on October 1.

People head to Thies Farm and Greenhouses in St. Charles for strawberry picking and for the autumn Pumpkinland, where kids can enjoy fall activities, farm animals, mazes, hayrides, face painting, pumpkin decorating, pony rides and a corn cannon. Fall produce for sale includes squash, pumpkins, eggplants, spinach, lettuces, broccoli and fruits, such as cantaloupes and apples.

Driven by weather, Wind Ridge Farm in New Melle some years still has “u-pick” peaches through Labor Day. During summers, they offer blueberries and blackberries.

Lakeview Farms in St. Peters offers “u-pick” strawberries and raspberries during summers, and sells decorative gourds during September through October.

Two Illinois-based farms that prompt many to make an annual pilgrimage to them include Mills Apple Farm in Marine, where the orchards offer apples and peaches, along with pumpkins, and Eckert’s Country Store & Farm in Belleville. Eckert’s owners claim it is the largest family-owned, pick-your-own orchard in the U.S. It started as a simple roadside stand in 1910 and now is operated by the sixth and seventh generations of the Eckert family.