Seeds of Change: Building Capacity among New Urban Growers with Educational Seed Grants

Progress report for ONC23-125

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2023: $48,690.00
Projected End Date: 03/30/2025
Grant Recipient: Urban Harvest STL
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Katie Houck
Urban Harvest STL
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Project Information


In partnership with prominent BIPOC urban farmers, we will coordinate a series of workshops that serve as the prerequisite for program participants to apply for a Seed Grant of $500. The recipients of this microgrant without access to land will be eligible for a Community Bed Scholarship in the following year. 

The seed funding and workshop series have been intentionally designed to benefit participants living in low-food-access neighborhoods in St. Louis. These residents are primarily people of color and face specific barriers to entry into urban agricultural spaces. Studies such as the USDA's RBS Research Report #194 acknowledge that until recently, the USDA had a history of discriminating against growers of color. Economically, this has put them at a disadvantage for generations. Land acquisition is also a large barrier, especially in urban spaces. In a case study on Chicago, urban growers identified a lack of educational support as an additional barrier. 

Unique to our program, each grant recipient will identify their own farming goals and invest the funds in the way that best suits their individual circumstances. The Missouri University Ag Report notes that small grants have worked to revitalize urban agriculture in other cities.

Project Objectives:

This collaboration will build an integrated community of practice with St. Louis urban farmers, with a specific focus on training, mentorship, seed funding, and access to garden beds.

To support program participants, we will fund 18 Seed Grants in year one and 24 grants in year two of the program. We will also provide 10 community bed scholarships in year two. 

Each partner farm will be compensated for hosting 3 farming workshops and 3 hands-on work days per year, creating at least 24 events per year program that participants can attend to meet eligibility requirements for the seed grant.


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Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

2 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
8 On-farm demonstrations
2 Online trainings
1 Webinars / talks / presentations
17 Workshop field days
1 Other educational activities: End of Season Grant workshop

Participation Summary:

56 Farmers participated
10 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

The farm collaborative offered 8 farm demonstrations, 17 workshops and field days in 2023, and 2 online trainings in February 2024. In February 2023, UHSTL staff and 2 partners (Dail and Heru) presented the project at Missouri Botanical Garden’s panel for urban gardeners on Food Justice in St. Louis. In 2023, each farm professional led 3 hour-long educational workshops and farm demonstrations on topics including container gardening, animal husbandry, tomato trellising, soil management, native plantings and seeds, and raised bed construction. The collaborators also each offered 2 field days on their farm sites in which participants were able to gain hands-on practical experience in planting, trellising, pest control, and farm maintenance. In February 2024, our new series of workshops launched with 2 online training opportunities, focused on community engagement and crop planning, respectively. We produced 2 educational tools, one is a budget guideline for common garden materials, and the other was a guided grant proposal template to assist our participants in determining their goals for their seed grants. We also held a final educational activity with our Oct 2023 Grant Workshop in which we gathered our applicants with farm mentors to assist and develop their seed grant proposals and budgets. In total, 12 grants worth $500 each were given to participants who completed at least 4 of the educational opportunities, a short proposal, and a budget. 

Grant Proposal Form


Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.