The September 28th issue of the “Missouri Farm Today” publication had an article on a 10-block stretch of land in a north St. Louis neighborhood that was purchased by an urban regeneration company and leased to a farming operation owned by the Olympian, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who grew up in East St. Louis, Illinios. With the goal of putting vacant urban land to good use, it is estimated that this is the largest urban agriculture experiment in the country. And it is not without it’s controversary. The strategy behind this project and other urban farming projects is to bring plant science industry to inner cities–often times people from the neighbor are hired to harvest the crops and produce is also given to churches and non-profit organizations that help feed people in the area that need assistance.
Neighbors to these urban farms have had some interesting encounters–new animals they haven’t seen are coming around like deer, foxes, rats and larger bbirds. Even criminals running from the police are using the high corn to run through to avoid capture–that is taking the idea of a corn maze to a different level…..This concerns them and they’ve expressed their concerns to city officials.
I am all for bringing the farming experience to city dwellers. Giving people a chance to see, maybe even participate in the process of growing something they could eat is great! Working with your hands, being active, being outside, and watching something grow are all good ways to feel healthier and ultimately be happier. And it can encourage a sense of community if people do it together.
There is a line from a bluegrass song that states there are 2 things money can’t buy, “true love and home-grown tomatoes!” Maybe both can be found in these urban farming projects, who knows?!