Social Connections In The Urban Soil
Cruising down Market Street in downtown Saint Louis, you're going to zip right by it.
But, if you can't beat the light just before the I-55 overpass you'll see a patch of green, filled with farmers wearing neon green T-shirts busy tending to the grounds and filling wheel barrels with fresh mustard greens.
At its heart, City Seeds is a local food system built to tackle everything from addiction to unemployment to homelessness. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the program was created by Gateway Greening in 2006, a 27-year-old non-profit focused on community gardening in Saint Louis.
"It gives me a sense of belonging, that I can actually do something," says one of the farmers Robert Reed, who is homeless and jobless.
It's tough to know for sure if there's a link between harvesting local food and recovery from things like addiction or depression. Nevertheless, Ann Rotermund's gut instinct says yes. She's senior director of mental health at the St. Patrick Center, whose clients work the farm.
"We have long thought that there was a link with kind of early recovery from drugs and alcohol and mental health issues with putting something in the ground," she said.
More: Read more about the City Seeds program at Harvest Public Media.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
"People who are really dedicated to supporting small, local farms sometimes join CSAs," explains Bobbi Boos, crew leader and CSA coordinator for LIFE Certified Organic Farm. "They pay us in the spring when we need money for seeds and fertilizer and labor before we get to start harvesting and selling our food. We provide a weekly delivery of food, so that's their share."
Boos says the CSA boxes get a priority for the produce they sell. "We're not selling green beans because [the CSA boxes] got all the green beans. We also have watermelons in some of the shares, green peppers, garlic, basil… So, not everybody gets everything. We switch it up because we don't have enough for all of our members – watermelons go here one week, they go here the next week."
The CSA box in the Earth Eats office this week is a little different: a couple tomatoes, a bunch of sage, five cucumbers, and a whole slew of potatoes.
We knocked out the tomatoes in no time, but the other ingredients have given us pause. How can we creatively incorporate cucumbers, sage and potatoes into this week's meals?
One can only eat so many raw cucumbers slices with hummus! With six cukes to eat in one week, we needed a better solution. This recipe uses all the cucumbers and plenty of fresh herbs to transform a traditional gazpacho recipe into something new.
Fresh juices are a great way to cool down in the summertime and enjoy the bounty of the season, but this is certainly not your everyday glass of apple juice. We're using cayenne pepper, lemon, and sage.
Finding uses for potatoes isn't especially difficult, but coming up with a recipe that hasn't been prepared a couple dozen times can be tricky.
So, we dug through the Earth Eats archive to find this recipe for potato pancakes. The recipe for these Old Fashioned Potato Latkes is a favorite in the Jewish food tradition, and they are often enjoyed around Hanukkah.