The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has selected St. Louis, Missouri as one of 17 cities to pilot a national urban agriculture program. This initiative is aimed at reducing the shipment of products across the country, thereby decreasing the carbon footprint and overhead costs associated with the product. Tony White, a local farmer in Maryland Heights, Missouri, is one of many who are taking part in this program.
His small watermelon and tomato farm is located less than eight kilometers away from the restaurants he serves, making it an urban farm. The USDA's goal is to develop more farms like White's, but for this to be successful, they must ensure that the land is fertile and provides the necessary nutrients for growth. St. Louis is one of the main cities chosen to launch this national urban agriculture initiative, alongside New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta.
There are several urban agriculture projects in St. Louis, such as those sponsored by Gateway Greening. These community gardens have a mission that goes beyond sustainability and environmental awareness. City Seeds is a service provided by St.
Patrick that offers homeless men and women the opportunity to become farmers. During a four-month rotating program, they learn vocational skills and participate in horticultural therapy. The International Institute's World Agriculture Initiative teaches immigrants agricultural techniques while developing vacant land in cities. This empowers women to take part in growing plants from farm to table, planting, harvesting and then cooking produce from the gardens.
Some participants are interested in selling their produce to vendors such as Saint Louis University or City Greens. Don Marsh, host of Louis on the Air, spoke to the directors of each of these urban agriculture initiatives to learn how they grow more than just food in their gardens. Urban farming initiatives are becoming increasingly popular in St. Louis as people become more aware of their environmental impact and the importance of sustainable practices.
These projects provide an opportunity for people to learn new skills while also providing fresh food for their families and local vendors. The USDA's national urban agriculture program is helping to reduce carbon emissions and overhead costs associated with product shipment while also empowering people to take part in sustainable farming.