Searching for quality regional products begins with shopping the best markets. Consider the best of the best — the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Best of Missouri Market.
The 21st annual event, which will be held Oct. 5-7, is one of the oldest sustainable markets in the Midwest that continues attract thousands of shoppers.
“We have everything from alpacas to salsa,” said Holly Berthold, a spokesperson for the garden. “Since the market’s beginning 21 years ago, the Best of Missouri Market’s goal was to bring together Missouri’s best regional artisans and crafters together.”
Back in the early 1990s buying local was a concept, which was just gaining support, thanks in part to the then new Agri-Missouri program. Today, buying local has become the mantra for shoppers, reflecting more than the locavore food movement.
It also supports regional artists as Webster Groves herbalist Rod Jackson, owner of Nuwati Herbals. Jackson started the business in 2002 and bases his line of products on the the herbal knowledge acquired from his Cherokee ancestors.
Nuwati’s product foundations are built on what Jackson refers to as natural remedies from Mother Earth’s medicine cabinet with formulas rooted in traditional Cherokee recipes — true to the original recipes with a few modifications. For example, bear grease has been substituted for extra virgin olive oil in Nuwati’s line of balms.
Balms, teas, bath salts and bath bags are Nuwati’s core products that now include an extensive product line made using wild-crafted herbs and plants.
“Wild crafted is different than organic,” Jackson said. “Wild crafted plants are found where the creator puts them. Organically grown plants grow in rows where man plants them. We use certified wild crafters to harvest all our herbs and plants, which are an honor in the Cherokee tradition for their (the plants) sacrifice for giving themselves to the people.”
Nuwati will be joined this year by more than 120 artisans such as St. Charles businesses River Bend Specialties, which makes sweet and spicy mustards and The Gourd Sisters, a company which specializes in decorative gourds. Thirty new vendors will join the market this year. Chesterfield’s Wicked Cactus Sauce, which creates handcrafted gourmet hot sauces and salsa, is one of the market's new vendors.
The Best of Missouri Market takes place at the Missouri Botanical Garden on Oct. 6 and 7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. rain or shine. To get a sneak peek shoppers can tale advantage of First Look Friday on Oct. 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. Each day will feature live entertainment, a food court and a special Kids Corner that will offer pumpkin decorating and craft projects.
Admission to the Best of Missouri Market is $12 for adults, $10 for visitors 65 and plus and $5 for garden members and children 3 to 12 years old. Anyone joining the garden during the Best of Missouri Market will receive free admission for two adults and all children 12 and younger for everyday of the festival.
For more information, visit the garden's website.