Urban Agriculture

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.

Kelly Sikkema | Flickr

Though the age-old question remains unanswered (you know, the chicken-egg thing), it is certain that urban agriculture will not be expanding in St. Louis any time soon.

The Board of Aldermen soundly rejected Scott Ogilvie's measure on Friday that would have boosted the number of backyard chickens allowed from four to eight, and let residents keep sheep, goats and emu on larger lots.

Gary Hern

An alderman from Dogtown wants to make urban farming a little easier.

Alderman Scott Ogilvie, D-24th Ward, introduced a bill on Friday loosening the restrictions on the number of backyard chickens and allowing city residents with larger lots to keep goats, sheep, ostriches and emus.

The Wellston Loop structure, most recently a burger joint, is where city trolleys would turn around to head back east toward downtown St. Louis.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This is the second of a three-part report on the past, present and future of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive.

Shavette Wayne-Jones was in her office early the first working day after the long New Year’s weekend.  A caller suspects that is not unusual for her.

Wayne-Jones is executive director of the Hamilton Heights Neighborhood Association, a community improvement organization whose work encompasses three north side neighborhoods, including the western stretch of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive where it runs into the city of Wellston.

She was reared in north St. Louis and at times she resembles a mother mockingbird, so fierce is she in her defense of her home turf. She regards the questions about the death of her neighborhoods as risible as well as wrong. She envisions the world on and around Dr. Martin Luther King Drive with a sense of possibility, a belief things will go right.

Alex Ihnen (left) and Mary Ostafi (right) joined host Don Marsh in studio.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

A couple of initiatives in downtown St. Louis are changing the way that St. Louis’ old buildings are preserved—by transforming them.

Urban Harvest STL's new farm will cover 10,000 sq. ft. on the roof of a two-story building in downtown St. Louis.
Artist's rendition courtesy of HOK

St. Louis will soon have its first rooftop farm.

Urban Harvest STL signed a lease for the space this week on the roof of a two-story building a couple of blocks east of the City Museum.

The non-profit’s founding director, Mary Ostafi, said the 10,000 sq. ft. rooftop will be more than just a community garden. “We’re going to have an outdoor classroom, as well as a gathering space for community events," Ostafi said. "We’ll be raising chickens and tending bees."

Gateway Greening intern Ting "Bella" Liu shows students at Clay Elementary School in North St. Louis how to harvest peas.
Gateway Greening

A St. Louis-based community gardening organization is wrapping up its 30th year with a record harvest.

Gateway Greening’s community and youth gardens harvested more than 190,000 pounds of fresh vegetables and fruit in 2014.

The nonprofit’s executive director, Mike Sorth, said the organization provides basic gardening supplies and assistance to neighborhood gardens, schools and youth groups.

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.

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.

Land Lab Aims To Find New Use for Vacant Lots

Apr 26, 2013
Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

If you live in any big city in the Midwest, and St. Louis in particular, you’re probably all too familiar with the site of vacant, empty land where homes and businesses used to be. 

This issue of vacant land in an otherwise urban environment presents tough challenges for cities.  This weekend ground will be broken on several projects which aim to change the way neighborhoods and cities deal with vacant property.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Even though up to a foot of snow could blanket parts of the region by tomorrow night, that didn’t stop the St. Louis County Library District from launching a pilot program to put community gardens outside some of its branch locations.

This morning volunteers began assembling 20 raised beds at Prairie Commons Branch in Hazelwood that organizers hope will serve as test plot for future efforts.