local food

  • 2018 Farm Bill Forum

    2018 Farm Bill Forum

    Small-scale and environmentally-responsible farmers, join Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Missouri Farmers Union, and Illinois Farmers Union on October 29, 2017 12-2 pm to provide feedback on what Farm Bill programs that matter most to you! Urban and rural farmers alike are encouraged to attend. The forum will be held at Schlafly Tap Room, 2100 Locust St., St. Louis, MO 63101.The forum is free and lunch will be provided.

    Please RSVP below!

     

  • Backyard Chickens Bill FAQ

     

    Ordinance 70608 allows residents in the City of St. Louis to possess up to 8 chickens depending on the size of the of their property. The bill, which was sponsored by Alderwoman Cara Spencer and Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, was passed by a vote of 22-3 and signed into law by Mayor Lyda Krewson in July 2017. The previous ordinance only allowed up to four animals per city parcel, including dogs, cats, chickens, and rabbits.

    More than a year's worth of engaging residents and compiling data by the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition (STLFPC) contributed to the policy change in the city. The STLFPC urban agriculture survey found that residents wanted a minimum spatial requirement for various reasons, including animal welfare, public health and cleanliness, which was incorporated into Board Bill 52.

    Below you can find some frequently asked questions about the bill.

    Learn more about the ordinance here.

    FAQ 

    This document was made to ensure public knowledge about the Board Bill No. 52

    Q: What does this bill change?

    A: The previous law allowed a maximum of four of the following animals: cats, dogs, chickens, a series of other birds, and one pot-bellied pig. Under the Board Bill 52, residents in any zoning district would be allowed to keep a maximum of eight fowl depending on size of one’s yard, in addition to up to four domestic animals (Section 3 Subsection D). Things that won’t change in the new bill include the banning of large farm animals or roosters on any residential area.

    (Fowl: chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeons, quail, and pheasants)

     

    Q: Are roosters allowed?

    A: No. The previous law and Board Bill 52 states that roosters are prohibited in the City of St. Louis. (Section 3 Subsection A)

     

    Q: Does this change how many cats and dogs I can have?

    A: No! The number of chickens one may have does not influence the number of pets allowed. You are still able to have 4 domestic animals.

     

    Q: What are the sanitary conditions required for keeping chickens?

    A: The Health Commissioner has the authority to outline set standards and regulations for keeping chickens that include spatial regulations and the maintenance of bugs, smell, allergens, manure, containers, and deceased chickens.

     

    Q: What are the spatial guidelines for keeping chickens or rabbits?

    A: The bill sets minimum spatial requirements per chicken (Section 3 Subsection C). Each individual chicken requires four square feet of indoor space, or covered space like a coop, and ten square feet of outdoor enclosure area, an area uncovered like a cage. For example, if a city resident would like to have four chickens, the resident would need to make available a total of sixteen square feet of indoor space and forty square feet of outdoor enclosure area. The spacial requirements were decided based on the guidance of the City of St. Louis Department of Health.

     

    Q: If my neighbor owns chickens, how will it impact my living space or neighborhood?

    A: It is not permitted to keep chickens in residential front yards (Section 4 Subsection A). This way, birds will be out of sight for neighbors and passers-by. According to a survey research study in the Land Use Policy Journal, 87% of chicken owners had not received any complaints from their neighbors about their birds.

     

    Q: What about the noise and the smell?

    A: Chickens, as long as they are well-maintained and clean, do not smell any more than any other animal. As long as owners follow basic sanitation and maintenance practices, smell should not be a problem. In addition, chickens tend to be fairly quiet animals compared to barking dogs, noisy traffic, and other typical city sounds.

     

    Q: Who do I call if a neighbor is out of compliance?

    A: If a citizen notices a neighbor that is out of compliance with the above sanitary or spatial guidelines, you can call the City of St. Louis Department of Health as violations of this code are considered a public nuisance. Their phone number is (314) 612-5100.

     

    Q: What are some of the health concerns that come along with raising chickens and how will they be addressed?

    A:  Although there have been some health concerns over keeping backyard chickens, ensuring the health of chickens and their owners is simple as long as certain precautions are taken to prevent disease. In order to protect you and your birds from disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend washing hands with soap and water after handling poultry or related materials such as food and water dishes or cages. Disease can also be prevented by wearing gloves when cleaning cages and coops. Owners can prevent disease by keeping living spaces clean for chickens, monitoring for signs of sick birds, and contacting professionals for help if they believe a bird is infected. For more information and resources on disease and recommendations check out this webpage.

     

    Q: Why are this bill and urban agriculture valuable to St. Louis?

    A: Backyard chickens can provide a multitude of benefits for residents including fresh eggs, natural fertilizer, and pest control. In addition, increasing urban agriculture puts St. Louis on the map as a leader in developing local food systems by supporting residents in growing and/or raising food for themselves and their community.

     

    Q: Are other cities passing similar policies?

    A: Minneapolis, Seattle, Dallas, Portland, Chicago, Detroit, and many more cities have passed similar policies. Even Missouri’s own Kansas City and Columbia permit keeping backyard chickens.

     

    Q: What are the basics of keeping chickens?

    A: Keeping chickens is a fulfilling practice and involves multiple steps and preparations. This progress begins by doing your research on raising chickens, including choosing what breed of chickens are the best fit for you, deciding if you are going to obtain chicks or adults, finding the best space in your yard for them, and ensuring that this space fits the spacial requirements laid out by the City (see above for more information on spatial requirements). Once you have researched and obtained the proper infrastructure for housing chickens, they require feeding and watering, maintaining coops, managing manure and properly disposing of their waste, which is compostable. For more information on raising chickens visit this link.

     

     

     

     

     

  • CALL NOW: Support Board Bill 52 on Urban Chickens

    CALL NOW: Support Board Bill 52 on Urban Chickens 

     

    Ask your alderperson to Vote YES on Board Bill 52! 

    The City of St. Louis only allows a household to own four pets. If a person or family has two dogs and one cat, legally that household can only own one chicken. 

    Board Bill 52 will separate chickens from dogs, cats, and other pets by creating a cap on how many pets a household can own as well as how many chickens a family can own. For more information about the bill, check out our FAQ page here. To see the results of our "Growing Food in the City of St. Louis" survey, go here.

    Alderwomen Cara Spencer and Christine Ingrassia introduced the bill, which could come up for a full vote of the board of alderman after passing out of committee unanimously. Please visit the link to find your alderperson and make a call asking them to support Board Bill 52!

    The following aldermen are co-sponors of the bill, so there is no need to contact them unless you want to thank them for their support: Dan Guenther and Scott Ogilvie

    How to Make Phone Calls: 

    1. Find your Alderperson.

    Click here to find your Alderperson's contact information.

    2. Call your Alderperson.

    3. Discuss talking points with contact.

    Talking Points: Please support and pass BB52. It is time to allow for more chickens in the city because:

    • Eggs from chickens provide a nutritious, lean, local source of protein for residents.
    • Chickens are social animals and the number of chickens allowed should not be based on how many dogs and cats are already residing on a given parcel.
    • The number of chickens will be based on land available rather than a general allotment.
    • Raising chickens is beneficial from a public health and racial equity standpoint by providing access to nutrient dense foods in areas of the city that lack access to fresh and healthy foods. 
    • Optional: Personally, I would be interested in having chickens in my backyard to provide fresh eggs for my family. 

     

    Thank you for taking action to support accessibility to raising urban chickens and therefore helping to promote urban agriculture and local food access in the City of St. Louis!

     

     

  • Food and Farm Program

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Food & Farm Director

    MCE works to change the status quo of Missouri’s agriculture industry so that our farmland supports a robust, sustainable, secure, and equitable food production system that preserves the environmental integrity of our air, land, and water.

    Why is an environmental organization working on food? 

    Our current, industrialized agriculture system threatens the quality of our water, soil, and air - all of which MCE has worked to protect for over 47 years - and has adverse impacts on the health of Missouri residents.

    There is a massive disconnect between people and food. Our current food system is not feeding our children, supporting our communities, or ensuring the protection of our soil and water resources. Missouri is fortunate to have naturally high quality soils capable of producing an array of fruits and vegetables, yet most of our land is dedicated to growing corn and soy - crops used primarily to produce livestock feed, processed food, and ethanol. Much of the fruits and vegetables found in grocery stores comes from far away places - California, Mexico, Chile, and Canada. Our grocery store shelves are lined with cheap sugar-, salt-, and fat-laden processed foods. Federal policies make Hostess Twinkies(R) cheaper than a bag of carrots. Issues of limited food access and no true consumer choice hit home for many families in urban and rural communities across Missouri and the nation. 

    It's time to back control of our food supply.Through our Food and Farm Program, MCE works to ensure that all Missourians have access to affordable, healthy food that is produced by local farmers who care for the land and are paid decent wages.

    Goals for MCE's Food and Farm Program

    1. A diversified farm economy

    2. Conservation of fertile soils and protection of clean water

    3. Access to a healthy, secure food supply

     
  • Growing Food in the City of St. Louis

    Thank you to all who participated in the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition's survey about growing food in the city! The survey is now closed. We were able to hear from 854 people from 75 of the city's 79 neighborhoods! Through this survey effort, we sought to learn from city residents: 1) what they and their neighbors are already growing, 2) what types of agriculture activities they would like to see in the city, and 3) how they would like those activities to be regulated. Five participants will receive a gift basket of food and farm swag from STLFPC members! We will use the survey responses to draft an urban agriculture ordinance that meets residents' needs and desires.
     
    We developed this survey with the assistance of Andy Bramman, a St. Louis University student, interning with MCE's Food and Farm Program this summer.
     

    The results are in!

    View results from the entire city here as well as the results for the neighborhoods in North CityCentral Corridor, and South City!
     
    See the survey results by ward below: 
     

    Click here to read our press release about the survey results. 

    Read articles from the St. Louis Post Dispatch and St. Louis Public Radio about the survey results. 

    Maps of the Survey Data

    Click to Zoom

     

    Alderwoman of the 19th Ward, a Champion for Food Access and Community Gardening

    Alderwoman Marlene Davis is committed to the issues expressed in the survey results above. Davis says, 

    "In neighborhoods with limited food access, residents must leave their neighborhood to access nutritious food. Many of these same neighborhoods have vacant lots, littering our neighborhoods with overgrown weeds and costing our taxpayers thousands to maintain. We can start to address both of these issues by organizing strategic plans for our communities, empowering residents to take back their vacant lots, put the land into productive use, and provide themselves and their neighbors with a source of healthy food."

    We thank her for her commitment to address food access and support food growing activities in the City of St. Louis!

     

  • MCE Receives USDA Grant to Expand Farm-to-Institution in St. Louis

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Date:October 4, 2017

    Contact:Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Director, (314) 727-0600, ext. 111, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) was selected as a recipient for the USDA Local Food Promotion Program. They will receive approximately $45,000 to support local food efforts in the St. Louis region. MCE convenes the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition (STLFPC), a stakeholder group of organizations working in community development, urban farming, food access, public health, local food sales, and the environment. STLFPC’s mission is to promote a thriving local food system that supports the community, health, environment, and economy of the Greater St. Louis area.

    The grant provides funding to increase purchasing of local food by public institutions. MCE will conduct a study to identify, assemble the resources, and connections needed to build the system of sourcing of products to area institutions, and thereby increase product sales and local food access for consumers. Some of the short-term impacts include an increase in farmers understanding of the potential profitability of selling locally produced food to institutions as well as for increased understanding of Fair Shares CCSA of the potential for helping member farmers reach new markets. Project staff will specifically assess the 1) demand of locally sourced agricultural products from institutions; 2) regulatory demands of farmers with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) certification training; and 3) available and potential supply from area farmers, including standardization of agricultural products in order to aggregate from farmers of various sizes, defining 10 target agricultural products area farmers can produce to meet the large volume requirements of institutions, and researching models for transportation of products and traceability back to the farmer for consumer awareness. Additionally, the study will promote the farmer narrative to institutions.

    “This funding will help us better understand how to meet market demands with local food products,” said Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Director at MCE.

    "MCE has taken the initiative, through the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, to engage in conversations with us and other farmers in the St. Louis region about how to grow their farm business and reach new markets, such as institutions," says Holly Buck, owner of Rosy Buck Farm in Beaufort, Missouri. "We trust MCE to conduct the necessary outreach and information collection necessary to determine if getting our practices into institutions would be best for us, and the region."

    As the St. Louis region thinks about its response to extreme weather events from climate change, such as increased flooding, and its dependence on drought-prone places like California for its food supply, local food provides opportunities for gains in environmental sustainability, nutrition, and public health.


    For more information, visit www.moenvrionment.org/.

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  • Missouri Foundation for Health Funds New Food Policy Coalition

    PRESS RELEASE

    Contact: Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Coordinator, (314) 727-0600, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Date: December 8, 2015

    St. Louis, MO: Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) has awarded Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) a 23-month $120,000 advocacy grant to lead the new St. Louis Food Policy Coalition (STLFPC).

    Where food comes from, how it is grown, and the relationship between health and the environment are important concepts to MCE. MCE’s Food and Farm Coordinator Melissa Vatterott is raising awareness about the connections between agriculture, public health, and the environment. As the coordinating agency for the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, MCE will advocate for and advance policies that will address gaps in the St. Louis region’s capacity to deliver healthy, fresh, sustainable, and accessible local food, with a specific emphasis on targeting communities with limited access to such food. Missouri Foundation for Health’s policy portfolio prioritizes “increasing health equity for all Missourians,” which is something Vatterott anticipates the work of STLFPC will foster.

    After the release of MCE’s St. Louis Regional Food Study a year ago, Vatterott conducted outreach to stakeholders for the first four months of 2015, bringing groups together to develop a set of policy initiatives and collaborative projects to address the food system needs of the St. Louis region.

    “To effectively advocate for the health, environmental, social justice, and economic needs of the entire St. Louis region, it’s important to include organizations throughout the 100 mile radius of St. Louis,” Vatterott says.

    Such a group has existed in St. Louis before, the St. Louis Food Policy Council, which began in 2010 and closed in 2012. The new group formed as a coalition in contrast to the former council in order to emphasize the collaboration of new stakeholders and new priorities, such as emphasizing local production within the food system.

    Mary Bolling, Nutrition Program Associate at MU Extension and steering committee member of STLFPC explains, “Supporting our local farmers through STLFPC works to support improved health, lesson the environmental impact, and contribute to the local economy. By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are most flavorful, most abundant, and least expensive. Locally grown food is often tastier and more nutrient dense because it is allowed to ripen longer due to the fact that it doesn't have to travel thousands of miles before arriving at the store.”

    For more information, see the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition webpage (www.moenvironment.org/stlfoodpolicy).

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  • St. Louis Food Policy Coalition

    After releasing the St. Louis Regional Food Study in November 2014, Missouri Coalition for the Environment sought to bring experts and passionate individuals together from diverse interest groups to address the food system needs of the Greater St. Louis area. In St. Louis, there are many great, local efforts addressing hunger, food access, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, social justice, community and economic development. The St. Louis Food Policy Coalition seeks to bridge these efforts to form a coordinated, local food system. We seek to leverage the myriad efforts underway. The work of all of these efforts will be lifted by a strong, connected local food system. Specifically, we shall work to shape public policy and influence decision makers about local food systems and their connections to concerns of health equity, environmental conservation and restoration, social justice, community development, and economic development. Together, Steering Committee members shall build capacity to become a united advocacy bloc. This united advocacy bloc shall work collectively to make changethat will further the goals of all stakeholders involved.​

    Mission Statement

    Vision Statement

    To promote a thriving local food system that supports the health, community, environment, and economy of the Greater St. Louis area.

    A thriving local economy in the Greater St. Louis area where everyone has access to affordable, healthy food from local producers who are stewards of our soil, air, and water resources.

    Core Values

    Our Priorities

    • Community - Relationships, open communication, understanding, and collaboration among diverse stakeholders and between stakeholders and community members

    • Education and Empowerment - Opportunities and support for everyone in the Greater St. Louis area to improve their lives and communities

    • Equity - Geographic Access and Affordability of healthy, culturally relevant food for individuals in all socioeconomic components of the Greater St. Louis area

    • Health and Nutrition - Nutritious food, prioritizing whole foods without chemical or genetic additives

    • Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship - Local farmers and ranchers taking care of their land and policies that support sustainable land use in urban and rural communities. Based on SARE’s definition of “sustainability,” a sustainable food system must prioritize:

      • Stewardship of our region’s soil, air, and water

      • Quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities

      • Profit over the long term

      • Shorter supply chains to reduce the ecological footprint of our food system

    • Local - Production and availability of healthy food produced within a 100 mile radius of St. Louis, recognizing that supporting farmers within 150 miles will help to incorporate farms that are outside 100 mile radii of the nearby metropolitan areas, Chicago and Kansas City.

    • Economy - Businesses and individuals seeking to purchase healthy food from local farmers and ranchers, capturing more of our food dollars in the Greater St. Louis area.

    • Urban Agriculture Policy 
    • Food Access and Public Transit Access
    • Food Hub Infrastructure 
    • Institutional Local Food Purchasing
    Check out MCE's Interactive Local Foodshed Map! It is a great way to find local and environmentally responsible farmers in the St. Louis Regional Foodshed.

    STLFPC is working with East/West Gateway on their food access goal to reduce by half the number of census tracks where 70% of residents are considered low income and low (food) access by 2027.The goal was drafted from the 2017 Sustainability Summit through One STL. Visit their food page to learn more.

    View the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition Membership page to learn more about the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition structure and the steering committee members.

    For more information about how you or your organization can be involved in the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, contact MCE Food and Farm Director, Melissa Vatterott, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 314-727-0600, ext. 11. 

  • St. Louis Regional Food Study

    Where food, health & the environment come together.

     

    The goal of the 2014 St. Louis Food Study is to better understand the connections between our food, health, and environment. This Study was the work of former Executive Director, Kathleen Logan Smith, MCE's Food and Farm Director, Melissa Vatterott, and a team of interns over two summers. In order to understand the local effects of the industrialized food system, they compiled data from USDA and Missouri’s Center for Applied Research and Environmental Systems (CARES). Their research demonstrates the clear link between our food, our health and the health of the St. Louis environment. We hope that this study will provide relevant data to individuals and organizations working on food, farm, & health in order to promote a more sustainable food system. 

    Below you will find the seven-chapter Food Study, the abridged report and the executive summary.  Fact sheets on the different topics the Study covers are also be found below.

    Access to the complete dataset behind the Food Study is available for $20.The data is maintained in a spreadsheet and periodically updated as more information becomes available. The spreadsheet includes citations and notes about how the data was collected. 

    To sign up for e-alerts regarding MCE's developing Food & Farm Program please click here

     

    St. Louis Regional Food Study Introduction and Complete Chapters

              

    Executive Summary and Abridged Report 

     

    St. Louis Regional Food Study Fact Sheets

              

     

     

    The County by County Data*

    Click hereto purchase access to the full data set. A login and password will be emailed to you following your purchase.

     

     

     

     

  • Survey Results Indicate New Policies Needed to Support Urban Agriculture

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     

    Date: December 13, 2017

    Contact: Melissa Vatterott, (314) 581-0561This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Survey Results Indicate New Policies Needed to Support Urban Agriculture in St. Louis City

     

    St. Louis, MO: Onsite sales of produce and eggs, allowing for more backyard chickens, and making it easier for city residents to purchase land for food production purposes are some of the recommended policy changes needed to enhance local agriculture according a survey by the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition. The survey was completed by 854 city residents in 75 of the city’s 79 neighborhoods. 

    “We conducted the survey to build a foundation for changing local food policy,” said Melissa Vatterott, director of the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition. “It is clear there are barriers standing in the way of accessing local, nutritious food and we intend to change that.”

    Nearly 100 people surveyed said they would like to sell either their produce or eggs from a stand in their yard or community garden. Of those who indicated encountering obstacles to gardening or farming in the city, 28% reported the inability to sell produce or eggs from their home or community garden as an issue for them.

    The City of St. Louis only allows four total animals on any given lot, including dogs, cats, chickens, and rabbits. 63% of the respondents are in favor of allowing more chickens and rabbits, with another 21% wanting to learn more. 

    “Small towns and big cities are addressing food access in ways that can be repeated here in St. Louis,” said Alderwoman Cara Spencer. “The results from this survey will be valuable for the next mayor and board of alderman to support agriculture policies that are responsive to our constituents.”  

    The most popular recommendation, with 77% support, is that the city needs to make it easier for, and give preference to, residents in the City of St. Louis to purchase land for food production purposes. In addition, of those who reported encountering land use obstacles to gardening or farming, more than half reported land prices are too high for just growing food, a quarter said residential tax rates are too high for just growing food, and nearly half reported LRA’s garden lease program as an obstacle because it does not guarantee the lots will not be purchased by someone else. 

     "Urban agriculture provides numerous benefits, including improving food access, beautifying neighborhoods, and providing economic opportunities for city residents," said Vatterott. "It's a tool we can use to address some of the environmental and social injustices seen in our city and we hope the next mayor will make it a priority." 

    “In most of our projects, the community garden often becomes more than just a place to grow food for the people in the neighborhood,” said Steve Hutchison, President of Revitalization 2000 and cofounder of The Ville Collaborative. “Nutrition education, how to garden, the science of gardening, and beautification help bring hope to distressed neighborhoods.” 

    Results from the survey are being released in the aggregate, by ward, and by region (north, central, south). 

    “The Department of Health looks forward to working with Alderwoman Ingrassia, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, and the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition on the next steps to developing an urban agriculture policy that makes sense for our city,” said Melba Moore, acting director of the city’s Health Department.

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    Click here to view the survey results. 

     

  • Survey: Help MCE Improve the Interactive Local Foodshed Map!

    Help MCE Improve the Interactive Local Foodshed Map!

     

    Click here to further explore the Interactive Local Foodshed Map! 

  • Sustainable Agriculture Story Map

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