Community Philosphy Blog and Library

HOMEGROWN Life: Making Our Voices Heard

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last month, Justin and I were among a handful of St. Louis folks asked to address a panel of our state’s legislators.  We were invited to a forum held by the Missouri Urban Agriculture Legislative Committee to discuss YellowTree Farm’s successes, and to let the State know of issues we feel impede urban farming in our area.

This was the last stop by the Committee, which had spent the previous months touring the state, visiting Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia.

Justin and I highlighted our farm’s fortunate three-year run:  How we’ve raised and cared for all sorts of livestock, how our business has expanded and continues to grow, and how our primary goal is to demonstrate to the St. Louis community how to do more with land than just grow grassy lawns.
We also indicated that access to water and the price of water are major concerns for us, as well as for other farmer friends of ours.  Additionally, we suggested to the Committee that one way to encourage and spread urban farming in Missouri would be to lease, sell, or somehow offer public land to those who wish to farm it – an example would be the sprawling expanses of lawn oftentimes bordering stretches of major roadways.  Acres of land like that exist in every metro area and cities are spending much of their budgets paying someone to mow that grass, where instead, that land could be used to grow food.
Honestly though, we were apprehensive at first about speaking to the Committee at all.  Typically, it’s government that misunderstands the urban farmer, and it’s government issuing citations for things like crops in the front yard or cracking down on urban chickens.  We certainly didn’t want to put a target on our own farming operations.

However, the overall vibe that night was welcoming and receptive.  The Committee truly wanted to know how we, and others like us, are able to be successful at what we do, and they truly were interested in learning how to make urban farming more accessible to others.  It’s an example of Missouri making a step in a more sustainable direction, and we were happy to have helped in whatever modest way we did.
As an urban farmer, a person on the fringe of societal norms, it’s easy to get swept up in a “damn the man,” anti-government mentality.  However, unless we’re willing to voice our opinions and cooperate with our state and federal leaders, we’re never going to see the sustainable changes we want take shape.  Forging a more sustainable country, a nation with greater numbers of urban growers, will take cooperation from both sides of the argument – so we encourage you to certainly try and take part the next time you learn of a town hall meeting, or a city council meeting, or any other forum where you can make your voice heard.  Don’t just grow vegetables, grow the urban farming movement.

 

“I’m half of YellowTree Farm, an urban homestead that I founded with my husband in late 2008.  Together, we grow vegetables and raise animals on less than 1/10 of an acre in St. Louis, Missouri.  I don’t have children.  I have animals, which is kind of the same thing as being a parent, except I eat my babies.”

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