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GOOD Ideas for Cities: Encouraging Local Food Production

How to get a city that's surrounded by farmland to eat locally? Grow what local residents want to eat in convenient neighborhood gardens.


Though the city is surrounded by farmland, most St. Louis residents eat produce grown hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. How might the city capitalize on its agricultural roots to grow more fresh, local food? As part of GOOD Ideas for Cities St. Louis, STL Provocateur proposed a new regional food system that would create jobs, educate the public, and help eaters make healthy food choices. The city's 70,000 plots of vacant land would be turned into small-scale urban farms where entrepreneurs would grow and sell what neighborhoods demanded, and citywide school gardens would serve as educational centers. A food distribution center would provide materials and resources for the garden network and serve as a way to connect the local farmers directly to stores and restaurants. Tax credits for food businesses that buy locally and policies requiring new development to add an agricultural component would spur adoption.

Challenge: Located in the heartland, St. Louis has unique resources that could allow it to become a leader in urban agriculture. Yet most of the food consumed in the region is produced hundreds or thousands of miles away, and many urban areas of St. Louis have limited access to fresh food. How can St. Louis use our resources and stakeholders to increase accessibility of healthy, locally grown food?

Craig Heller, Food Works
Frank Finnegan, St. Louis Area Foodbank
Mike Sorth, Gateway Greening
Eric Schneider, RCGA

STL Provocateur: Rhonda Smythe, Jeanette Reynolds, Stephanie Co, Nat Zorach, Andrew Flachs, Anne McCullough

Learn more about this idea and contact the creatives at STL Provocateur's website.

Video by CAM and Nine Network

GOOD Ideas for Cities pairs creative problem-solvers with real urban challenges proposed by civic leaders. To learn more visit

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