urban agriculture

  • Call Senator McCaskill & Senator Blunt - Vote YES on the 2018 Farm Bill! 

    The Farm Bill is reauthorized every five years. 2018 is a Farm Bill year and the version in the Senate is our best chance at a Farm Bill that supports our values. Missouri's Senators need to support an amendment by Senator Chuck Grassley to restore accountability and fairness to Title I, which was unable to come to a vote in committee due to a procedural requirement. The amendment will place a hard cap on the total amount of commodity program payments and benefits any one farm can receive annually, and will strengthen “actively engaged” rules to ensure that large operations cannot endlessly multiply payments by adding non-farm investors. Sen. McCaskill & Sen. Blunt also need to defend the good parts of the bipartisan Farm Bill that benefit local and regional food systems, rural business development, conservation, food access & security, beginning & socially disadvantaged farmers, crop insurance, and research. Use our online tool below to find talking points and contact information before for our Senators. You can leave MCE notes on how the call went, which is helpful for our staff when following-up with Senator McCaskill & Senator Blunt. 



  • 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!


  • Keeping Chickens in St. Louis: FAQ 

    Chickens are some of the most common farm animals in urban areas. They can be raised for their fertile manure or eggs. Raising chickens can be rewarding, fruitful, and fun for the whole family, but certain aspects must be considered before starting your flock.

    Board Bill 52, 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. Ordinance 70608 now allows residents in the City of St. Louis to possess up to eight chickens depending on the size of their property. 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 the new ordinance.

    Below you can find some frequently asked questions about backyard chicken ownership and Ordinance 70608.

    Learn more about the ordinance here.

    How many chickens can I keep?

    In the City of St. Louis, you may own up to eight total fowl on a residentially zoned parcel, and none of which may be a rooster.  Before setting up a coop and flock, it is important to ensure you are in a residential zone. Those in nonresidential zones are not authorized to keep chickens by the new law.  Check this map to find your location’s zoning, or call the City of St. Louis Zoning Section to inquire about your zoning at (314) 622-3666. If you live outside of the City of St. Louis, visit The Easy Chickenfor a list of municipalities and relevant ordinances.

    Should I get chicks or chickens?

    Because the sex of chicks cannot be determined, it is encouraged to buy pullets or chickens, so as to avoid requiring the killing of growing roosters.

    Where can I buy chicks or chickens?

    When you are buying chicks, avoid unknown sources as the chicks may not have been vaccinated. McMurray’s Hatchery, Fenton Feed Mill,  O.K. Hatchery Feed & Garden Store (Kirkwood), and The Chicken Whispers are good options for St. Louis region residents. If you would like to try raising chickens before making a commitment to getting a flock of your own, The Easy Chicken provides coops and chickens for rent.  Most reputable breeders ensure that their chickens have been vaccinated against common avian syndromes (Marek’s disease, Newcastle disease, and infectious bronchitis). When raising chickens from chicks, it is the choice of the owner whether or not to vaccinate chicks to prevent diseases. There are many avian vets in the St. Louis area who you can go to when your chicken falls ill.

    How much does it cost to raise chickens?

    These costs are approximate. You can save money by building your own coop, brooder, waterers, and feeders! These materials can be purchased at most local hardware stores.

    How big does the coop need to be?

    One chicken is permitted for every four square feet of indoor enclosure and 10 square feet of outdoor enclosure, up to a maximum of eight chickens. The coop needs to be predator-proof and thoroughly ventilated, designed to be easily accessed and cleaned, and of sufficient size as determined by the Health Commissioner to permit free movement of the animals, not to exceed 50 square feet inside the coop.

    Can I let my chickens free range?

    It is recommended that chickens spend at least an hour outside of their coop per day. Regardless, the chickens must have access to an outdoor enclosure, which may or may not be the lot in its entirety. The outdoor enclosure shall be adequately fenced to contain the chickens within the enclosure and to prevent access by dogs and other predators.

    Where can I put the coop?

    No coop may be located in a front yard, or closer than 1.5 feet to a property line without a solid fence to separate the lots, or 10 feet from a dwelling on another lot with a solid fence to separate the lots. It is generally good practice to place coops and cages in the backyard and not immediately adjacent to the property lines.

    What kind of regular care will chickens need?

    A thriving flock requires regular coop maintenance. Coops provide shelter, protection from predators and a place to nest - all essential in keeping chickens content and productive. Chicken owners must regularly replace bedding, ensure a coop is properly ventilated, and provide a feeder, waterer, perch, and a nesting box to lay eggs.

    Do I have to feed my chickens?

    Chickens must be fed. The general suggested rations are 3-6 oz. of feed per chicken per day.  To provide variety and other nutrients, owners can also supplement this diet with vegetables and bread. Feed should be kept in a rodent proof container in a cool, dry environment in order to extend its shelf life. Chickens are hardy birds and can survive a St. Louis winter, but it is recommended to feed chickens more during winter months to facilitate natural insulation.  They should also have constant access to clean, lukewarm water, as just a couple hours of deprivation can cause dehydration.

    What if a chicken dies?

    Owners of aging chickens might consider giving their animals up to a sanctuary, such as Longmeadow Rescue Ranch in Union, Missouri. If your chicken dies, it is against the law to bury your chickens on St. Louis land. Dead chickens should be disposed of through the St. Louis Refuse Division at (314) 647-3111.

    I thought we could only have four animals per house. Did that change?

    In 2017, the St. Louis Board of Alderman passed Board Bill 52 (see Ordinance 70608), which amends, repeals, and enacts several ordinance provisions pertaining to the keeping of fowl in the City of St. Louis to better enable residents to keep fowl and to clarify related regulations and requirements. Board Bill 52 allows City of St. Louis residents to keep up to eight hens or other fowl, depending on the size of their yard.

    What are the rules and regulations for chickens in St. Louis?

    The City of St. Louis allow residents to keep up to eight chickens on residential parcels, free of permit, so long as the following requirements are met:

    1. No roosters are to be kept.

    2. One fowl is permitted for every 4 square feet of indoor enclosure and 10 square feet of outdoor enclosure, up to a maximum of eight fowl.

    3. A predator-proof coop is to be provided for all fowl, which must be thoroughly ventilated, designed to be easily accessed and cleaned, and of sufficient size as determined by the Health Commissioner to permit free movement of the animals, not to exceed 50 square feet inside the coop.

    4. The chickens must have access to an outdoor enclosure, which may or may not be the lot in its entirety. The outdoor enclosure shall be adequately fenced to contain the small animals within the enclosure and to prevent access by dogs and other predators.

    5. No coop may be located in a front yard, or closer than 1.5 feet to a property line without a solid fence to separate the lots, or 10 feet from a dwelling on another lot with a solid fence to separate the lots.

    6. No fowl are to be unenclosed or able to enter streets or adjoining properties or otherwise be at large at any time.

    7. Other minimum standards and regulations as established by the Health Commissioner governing the manner of keeping, raising, and sheltering of fowl are met, and adequate care given.

    What are the standards of care, according to the Health Commissioner?

    Your chickens will require a minimum standard of care to be kept, or else be deemed a nuisance or your care inadequate and potentially in violation of animal abuse statutes. The Health Commissioner will promulgate these standards. Expected standards include:

    1. Keeping the coop and enclosure clean and sanitary, and maintaining it such that it is free of vermin and adequately protects and contains the animals.

    2. Preventing inordinate abundance of flies and other pests around the coop.

    3. Controlling odor from the coop and animals.

    4. Properly containing and disposing of waste, such as by keeping waste in a fly-proof receptacle while waiting for disposal.

    5. Proper disposal of sick or deceased animals through burial or incineration in accordance with federal, state, and local law.

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

    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.

    What about the noise and the smell?

    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.

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

    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.

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

    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.

    Why are this ordinance and urban agriculture valuable to St. Louis?

    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.

    Do other cities have similar policies?

    Minneapolis, Seattle, Dallas, Portland, Chicago, Detroit, and many more cities have passed similar policies. In addition to the City of St. Louis, Missouri’s own Kansas City and Columbia permit keeping backyard chickens.

    Do chickens have to go to the vet?

    Chickens, like dogs and cats, may become sick or injured and require veterinary care. Illness in chickens can be caused by fungus and dust spores left as a result of old food or dusty bedding—an important reason to keep chicken coops clean! Signs that your chicken may be ill include: feather discoloration, eye discharge, hunched posture, drooping tail, ruffled feathers, and weak legs. This is not to be confused with molting, when chickens replace their feathers for winter.

    Here are a couple of veterinarians in the St. Louis area that see chickens:

    • David J. Kersting, D.V.M., 132 Four Seasons Shopping Center (Woods Mill and Olive) Chesterfield, MO 63017, (314) 469-6661

    • Tri-City Animal and Bird Clinic, 15646 Manchester Road, Ellisville, MO 63011, (636) 227-4041

    Where can I buy supplies?

    • Bayer’s Garden Shop, 3401 Hampton Ave St. Louis, MO 63139, (314) 781-2314 (Feed, hay)

    • Cackle Hatchery, 411 West Commercial St. Lebanon, MO 65536, (417) 532-4581 (Chicks)

    • Fenton Feed Mill, 412 Water St. Fenton, MO 63026, (636) 343-7272 (2nd location in Grover, MO) (Feed, chicks)

    • OK Hatchery, 115 E Argonne Dr Kirkwood MO 63122, (314) 822-0083 (Feed, shavings, feeder, waterer)

    • Murray McMurray Hatchery, order pullets online here.

    How do I meet others who have chickens?

    Connect with local backyard chicken farmers through the St. Louis Backyard Chickens Facebook group.

    What if I want more than eight chickens?

    If you wish to keep more than eight chickens, you must own at least 20,000 square feet of contiguous land and apply for a Small Farm Animal Permit annually, requiring the submission of the name of the applicant, the address for which the permit is sought, the address and telephone number at which the applicant can be contacted, the maximum number of animals which the applicant proposes to keep, a $60 inspection fee, any additional information requested by the Health Commissioner, and submission to an inspection by the Health Commissioner.  If approved, the Small Farm Animal Permit allows for an additional chicken per 1,000 square feet of property, up to a maximum of 20 chickens.

    Where can I get more information?




    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.


    Click here to view the survey results. 


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