Southeast Missouri State University student publication

From farm to table at the Cape Riverfront Market

Tuesday, May 2, 2023
Kurt Sweitzer waters his produce plants in the greenhouse once a day. Watering is essential for plants in a humid environment.
Photo by Allison Lauter

The Cape Girardeau Riverfront Market is among one of the most popular activities in the region. At the market, you can find vendors selling fresh produce, handmade creations, clothes, jewelry and much more.

The market introduces people to a multitude of vendors; one of the largest is Sweitzer Farms.

Sweitzer Farms is owned and run by Kurt Sweitzer, a third generation farmer on the land his parents and grandparents farmed. The Sweitzers sell a variety of produce at each farmers market they attend; their most popular products are tomatoes, strawberries and greens.

“I am always trying to grow something new — that is the fun in this business,” Sweitzer said. “I am up and out here around four or five a.m. and work until the sun goes down.”

Most of the Sweitzers’ greens, including lettuce, kale and dill are directly planted in the field along with other crops, such as sweet corn and onions.

Some of the most popular produce sold at the market from the Sweitzer farm starts in a small seed chamber then makes its way into the greenhouse or out in the field to fully mature.

Sweitzer encourages everyone to come to the farmers market to buy fresh produce and make connections with the vendors.

Tori Holmes, Cape Riverfront Market manager for the 2023 season, makes lasting connections with each vendor while learning the products that sell best for them and what does not sell well.

“It is important for people to buy local, because it goes back to our mission of Old Town Cape — we want to support our community, local businesses and local vendors,” Holmes said. “We do not accept vendors outside of a 100-mile radius, because our goal is to support our local vendors.”

Eating local through farmers or suppliers from the area has fantastic benefits for people’s health, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to the Agricultural Marketing Service, eating local allows the consumer to obtain food with superior quality, have greater confidence and trust in the integrity of the food, reward sustainable production practices and have the ability to learn about farming practices.

Sophomore agriculture business industry major Alexis Mudd is in support of communities buying and selling local. Mudd understands college students may not have the best access to fresh foods, due to universities’ meal plans.

“Some food products can be extremely misleading for a college student; like, the words ‘all natural’ can have a variety of interpretations and not display differences from the less-expensive counterparts,” Mudd said. “Buzz words like ‘organic’ are used to make consumers believe they are making the most healthy choice, when in reality, this product has no health benefits when compared to counterparts without the label — not to mention, they often cost more.”

To learn more about the Cape Riverfront Market, visit Downtown Riverfront Market. To find where the Sweitzer family will be selling their produce, visit Sweitzer Farm Facebook.