Farm on a mission: Theodora Farms expands access to organic produce as part of resurgence

Jun 22nd, 2022

A farm just outside St. Louis has been built with the future in mind. In a post-industrial town on the decline, Theodora Farms is helping the area bounce back in a big way. 

By partnering with Market Wagon, the 10-acre certified organic farm can expand its mission as it connects to customers interested in healthy and nutritious found through the metropolitan area.

The powerful mission of Theodora Farms started with a local businessman and investor who started renovating old buildings in the area as well as supporting new businesses.

Kris Larson, the farm’s general manager, has been there since day one. He’s farmed in the area since 2006 and was recruited to get this new venture off the ground.

The mission of the farm is a simple idea.

“Our intention is to catalyze the wellbeing and the health of the community by connecting them to a lifestyle founded on eating fresh, whole, seasonal, local, organic foods,” Kris said.

But getting there has taken years of hard work.

The land in Godfrey, Illinois, was acquired in 2019. The first year of operation was 2020, just as the pandemic was hitting. While it took some time for area residents to find out about Theodora Farms, the operations has quickly built a loyal customer base.

“It’s very heartening and inspiring. We have a good group of people in our local area who are pretty passionate about eating this food,” Kris said.

That base has expanded thanks to a partnership with Market Wagon which allows Theodora to provide delicious vegetables throughout the growing season with a single drop-off point.

“We were really impressed at how easy the whole process was.”

For people in both Illinois and Missouri who may not be able to make it to the farm or a farmers’ market, Market Wagon makes it easy to get high-quality, organic food delivered to their door.

“We are excited about the opportunity for customers to be able to buy our produce as well as access a wide range of local farms.”

Kris believes that reaching a broader market of customers is necessary if Theodora Farms is to have a real impact on the community. That’s part of the reason he pursued becoming a certified organic operation.

“That label, that certification, provides a trust and transparency that otherwise would be lacking if we didn’t have it,” Kris said.

The process all begins with building healthy soil. The farm uses only natural fertilizers and insect sprays. Crops are harvested by hand. The team at Theodora Farms is made up of people who want to build a meaningful career in agriculture. And that’s by design.

“We’ve got to make sure that farming is a legitimate, valued professional occupation,” Kris said.

But Theodora Farms is more than just organic crops. A renovated farmhouse kitchen hosts classes and workshops. Work on a farm store is underway so people can grab and go sandwiches, salads and other seasonal foods. The operation also works with caterers, cooks, chefs, restaurants and local organizations.

For Kris, it all comes down to expanding access and opportunity to the best food Mother Nature can grow.

“We have to find ways to build up a local food system in a way that actually serves a broad array of customers.”

The offerings for Theodora Farms on Market Wagon are constantly changing through the seasons. Right now, Kris recommends the custom lettuce mix blend which is consistently one of the farm’s top sellers. Basil is also another popular item along with fresh scallions.

And make sure you add Theodora Farms to your favorites because with 40-50 different crops every summer, there’s always something new on the horizon. Kris recommends the cherry tomatoes which are so sweet, many customers compare them to candy. He adds the carrots are a very popular choice. Because they are freshly picked at peak flavor, they are far more sweet than any you find at the grocery store which are picked to maximize time spent in storage.