Missouri Botanical Garden to dedicate section of Kemper Center to the Sweet Potato Project

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Press Release

Date: May 29, 2014

Contact: Missouri Botanical Garden Public Relations Dept.

Phone: (314) 577-5141 or (314) 577-0254 office (media use only)

Email: holly.berthold@mobot.org or katie.osullivan@mobot.org (media use only)

For Immediate Release

 SWEET POTATO PROJECT SERVES AS A LIFE LESSON TO ST. LOUIS YOUTH

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This is the spot in Kemper Garden where produce for the Sweet Potato Project will be planted on May 31, 2014

Hands-on project spanning the summer of 2014 teaches conceptualization,
commerce & marketing

(ST. LOUIS): On Saturday, May 31 at 9 a.m. St. Louis inner-city youth will convene at the Missouri Botanical Garden to assist horticultural staff in planting sweet potato plants in a dedicated section of the Garden’s Kemper Center.

The program sponsored by the Missouri Botanical garden and the North Area Community Development Corporation, is designed to show youth that there are “do-for-self” opportunities to generate money within their own neighborhoods without turning to the deadly drug trade that consumes so many low-income areas. During this program, students will earn a minimum-wage salary to harvest sweet potatoes, develop a sweet potato product and learn about packaging, website design, marketing, mass production and the distribution of the product they’ve created.

The Sweet Potato Project was introduced in 2012 as a way to address two significant needs in North St. Louis. First, by teaching young men and women business skills that can change their lives. Second, helping restore economic activity in North St. Louis. The project begins with a 10-week summer program where students learn about urban agriculture and participate in business classes and workshops. They plant sweet potatoes in plots in their community and harvest them in October.

In the fall and winter, the students convert the produce into a marketable product; the sweet potatoes will be used in baking sweet potato cookies to be marketed and sold in the community.

The Sweet Potato Project teaches inner-city “at-risk” youth alternative and progressive ways to produce and distribute locally grown products as well as sustainable business and entrepreneurial skills that can change their lives and enhance their careers.

“We are pleased to be working in partnership with the Garden,” said Sylvester Brown, Jr., director of the Sweet Potato Project. “Given the expertise and world renowned mission of the garden, we are very grateful to Dr. Peter Wyse Jackson and the Missouri Botanical Garden.”

For more information about the Sweet Potato Project or to view the new design created by St. Louis University’s Community Production Group visit: www.sweetpotatoprojectstl.org.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in south St. Louis, accessible from Interstate 44 at the Vandeventer exit and from Interstate 64 at the Kingshighway North and South exit. Free parking is available on site and two blocks west at the corner of Shaw and Vandeventer.

For general information, visit www.mobot.org or call (314) 577‑5100 (toll-free, 1‑800‑642‑8842). Follow the Garden on Facebook and Twitter at www.facebook.com/missouribotanicalgarden and http://twitter.com/mobotgarden.

Today, 155 years after opening, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display. With scientists working in 35 countries on six continents around the globe, the Missouri Botanical Garden has one of the three largest plant science programs in the world and a mission “to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life.” Learn more at www.mobot.org.

The Missouri Botanical Garden focuses its work on areas that are rich in biodiversity yet threatened by habitat destruction, and operates the world’s most active research and training programs in tropical botany. Garden scientists collaborate with local institutions, schools and indigenous peoples to understand plants, create awareness, offer alternatives and craft conservation strategies. The Missouri Botanical Garden is striving for a world that can sustain us without sacrificing prosperity for future generations, a world where people share a commitment to managing biological diversity for the common benefit.

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The Missouri Botanical Garden’s mission is “to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life.” Today, 155 years after opening, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in St. Louis, just south of I-44 at Vandeventer-Kingshighway (exit #287B). Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Closed Christmas Day. Grounds open at 7 a.m. most Wednesdays and Saturdays (exception: special admission rate events). Admission is $8; free children ages 12 and under and Garden members. St. Louis City and County residents are $4 and free most Wednesdays and Saturdays until noon (exception: special admission rate events – third weekend of May, Memorial Day 2012, Labor Day weekend and first weekend of October). Park for free on site and two blocks west at the Shaw-Vandeventer intersection. The Garden is accessible via public transportation by taking the MetroLink commuter rail line and picking up a Metro bus (www.metrostlouis.org). For general information, log on to www.mobot.org or call the 24-hour recording at (314) 577-5100 or 1-800-642-8842. For membership information, visit www.mobot.org/membership call (314) 577-5118 during weekday business hours. For volunteer opportunities, visit www.mobot.org/volunteer or call (314) 577-5187. The Missouri Botanical Garden is a tobacco-free environment.