Sweet Potato Project

City Seeds director Syndey Boyle with former St. Patrick Center client Deborah at the farm in June.
Kim Oswalt | St. Louis Public Radio

Just a few blocks north of Union Station in downtown St. Louis, a 2.5-acre farm sits hidden in plain sight next to the on-ramp for I-64. Despite its size and relatively busy location, few people are aware of its existence.

It isn’t the only farm in the area that no one knows about.

NPR

To have a conversation, someone must listen. NPR journalist Michel Martin says that will be her role Thursday as she moderates a public discussion in Ferguson.

“People know their own stories best,” Martin said. “I think my job is to listen to hear those stories and to make sure that everybody gets a chance to be heard who wishes to be heard, and hopefully heard in a manner that will be constructive to other people listening.

“Basically, this is neighbors talking to neighbors.”

Thursday’s community conversation at Wellspring Church in Ferguson will include:

Sweet Potato Project
St. Louis Public Radio

Sweet potatoes planted by St. Louis teens now have their own plot in the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Young members of an effort called the Sweet Potato Project planted seedlings on Saturday, joined by Garden leaders and other supporters. The project teaches teens from north St. Louis how to grow sweet potatoes sustainably, mainly in vacant lots, and then how to brand and sell sweet potato products.

(Credit: flickr/Hiroshi Nishino)

We all know that St. Louis is unique in many ways — our passion for baseball; our obsession with bricks; our Arch.

It turns out, the region is even unique when it comes to gentrification. Two area academics wrote about their research on St. Louis gentrification in nextSTL.com.  They say the preconception about gentrification is that upwardly mobile whites move into urban neighborhoods and push out the largely minority, low-income population that lived there originally.

St. Louis Public Radio

For the past year, St. Louis Public Radio producer Erin Williams has covered regional race matters, diversity and culture as part of an inaugural fellowship made possible, in part, by a grant from the Public Policy Research Center.

Her last day is today, October 18, 2013, and we wish her well as she continues her journalism career.

Williams' commentary about her one year in St. Louis as well as her conversation with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh appear below:

Erin Williams

Being an entrepreneur takes more than just having what you think is a “good product.” It takes marketing, development, being social, and most importantly, mentorship. And, you have to be willing to build it from the ground up. But where do you start? For Sylvester Brown, you go with something that’s plain and simple: sweet potatoes.

Spuds, a way to keep kids off the streets

Jun 24, 2013
To qualify for the program, the youth had to work at least one hour on June 8, planting sweet potato crops.
Provided by Sylvester Brown | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A slightly more unconventional role for the sweet potato these days is keeping kids off the streets.

The Sweet Potato Project, an entrepreneurial effort at community reform headed by Sylvester Brown and the North Area Community Development Corporation aims to do just that.