YOUR HELP IS NEEDED TO…GROW SUSTAINABLE OPPORTUNITIES, COMMUNITIES & FUTURES
The Sweet Potato Farms Collaborative (SPF) is an initiative launched in 2015 by The Sweet Potato Project (SPP) in collaboration with the North Area Community Development Corporation (NACDC). The goal step is make leasing or purchasing vacant properties more accessible to residents interested in urban farming. We’re inviting individuals, churches, schools and community organizations to secure land, grow food and bring produce and food-based products to market. SPP already has a partnership with St. Louis University’s Department of Nutrition & Dietetics that purchases sweet potatoes grown through this collective. The goal is to develop other avenues that will stimulate food-based economic activity in North St. Louis.
For more than 115 years African Americans in the St. Louis region have been displaced or relocated into areas, like Ferguson, where they weren’t always welcomed or were unable to participate in the economic mainstream within the communities. We seek to create neighborhoods where youth and adults have a vested interest in growing small businesses, generating jobs and sharing in economic opportunities within their own neighborhoods. Like the Tower Grove and Old North areas, this initiative seeks to use food to bring safety, stability and economic activity back to North St. Louis.
This urban farming program will work in conjunction with the Sweet Potato Project where at-risk youth are trained to grow food and market food-based products. Urban farmers will have the opportunity to sell their yield to the Sweet Potato Project where it will be used to develop more food-based products through St. Louis University’s professional kitchen. Additionally, for a small hourly fee, collaborative members will also have access to SLU’s “shared use” kitchen to develop products of their own.
By creating neighborhood-based food systems that encourage land ownership, urban farming and large-scale produce and distribution of “value-added” food products, SP Farms Initiative will provide the incentive to build within areas that have suffered long-term neglect. In addition, it offers a viable way to tackle the scourge of “food deserts,” malnutrition, unhealthy eating, crime and unemployment.
The long-term goal is to create a North St. Louis food system that encourages land re-utilization, massive urban farming, food manufacturing and food distribution (grocers, restaurants, farmer’s markets, etc). Reportedly, there are more than 8,000 vacant lots in the City of St. Louis alone. We need the help of enlightened politicians (aldermen, state representatives, mayor’s aides to help us navigate the political landscape of land re-utilization, access to public funds earmarked for land acquisition and/or neighborhood improvement, water resources, zoning issues and more. We’re hoping aldermen will invite their constituents involved in activities such as the “Mow-to-Own” plan or other youth related programs to become a part of this initiative by growing food on vacant lots.
SPP wants to partner with as many low-income residents, churches and organizations as possible this year. We want to create environments where people can generate income through food. However, we realize that many churches and community organizations are working with poor residents or are growing food in disadvantaged neighborhoods. We believe this initiative offers these groups a sustainable means to lift their members and/or constituents out of poverty and build a foundation for sustainable economic security in long abandoned neighborhoods.
Contact SPP’s executive Director, Sylvester Brown, Jr. (314-341-4071). We will arrange a site visit to determine space, soil and planting requirements and needs. We will sign an agreement and work with you to get your land ready for planting by early June 2016. In the fall, SPP will purchase sweet potatoes grown by collaborative members at a predetermined price. It’s that simple!
Please call 314-341-4071 for more information.
This initiative is possible through the generous support of: