The Sweet Potato Project not only promotes healthy lifestyles through growing and selling locally raised produce it revitalizes neighborhoods in North St. Louis. The  Sweet Potato Project will serve as a template for expanded community-wide economic development in North St. Louis and in urban neighborhoods throughout the country. As we demonstrate that young people in our community can be self-sustainable and facilitate the lifecycle of products created from locally grown produce, the concept will be expanded. The Sweet Potato Project is a model of an inner-city, job-producing effort that includes training in urban agriculture, marketing and sales, product production and distribution, and Internet sales.

Over the next five years, many expansions to the Sweet Potato Project will be implemented. In 2014, we aim to be able to have up to 30 young people being paid throughout the 9 week long program. By 2016, we would like to pay 50 students for the 10-week summer program. Our five year vision is to secure at least eight vacant lots in North Saint Louis, as well as seek out a permanent facility with land for large-scale urban farming. Additionally, we aim to begin selling our products in select retail locations by 2015.

Our ultimate goal is to create a neighborhood food system that provides fresh produce and food-based products for regional and national consumers. Our mission is to transform long-neglected neighborhoods, create jobs and spur small business growth for youth, adults and communities at large.

To learn more about our vision, check out our Five-Year Plan.

My TED Talk Executive Director, Sylvester Brown’s Jan. 2014 TEDx Gateway Arch presentation on the Sweet Potato project’s mission

 “The Long Fuse to Ferguson” was created to define the decades-long path to poverty in the St. Louis region. It highlights the Sweet Potato Project’s larger vision as a means to bring economic vitality to under-served neighborhoods in the region. Our mission is to educate young entrepreneurs who will transform urban St. Louis with a massive food-based solution.