Progress report for YENC22-188
We plan to engage residents from North St. Louis County or North St. Louis City, preferentially Black or Indigenous, in a nine-month Fellowship covering Food Equity and Justice, Growing and STEM, and Business and Entrepreneurship. The Fellows will meet one weekend day and two weekdays per month. Field trips (to Jefferson City, farms, and food-related businesses) and guest speakers (including government officials, farmers, and business owners) will provide the Fellows with networking opportunities, professionalism skills, and career and education guidance. The Fellows will read and discuss three relevant books by Black experts.
Note: for our upcoming Fellowship cohort beginning in September 2023, we are removing the previous cohort's age restriction because we believe it will make for a more vibrant Fellowship class.
The objectives of this project include:
- Provide urban residents knowledge and experience of agriculture so they can envision careers in agriculture, food systems, policy, or entrepreneurship.
- Provide urban residents with direct experience working with soil, bees, vermiculture, specialty crops, and goats, to help them understand healthy food and food systems.
- Introduce urban residents to Black/Indigenous farmers, government officials, and business owners as examples/teachers and to students at the Washington University School of Environmental Studies as peer mentors.
- Help residents understand how government decisions and citizen participation affect food systems.
- Help residents understand how to start and run a food-related business.
Educational & Outreach Activities
We had three fellows successfully complete the Food and Justice Fellowship in the 2022 cohort. The first module on Equity and Justice ran from March through May, 2022 and the second module on Growing Food and STEM ran from June through September, 2022. We were not able to complete the planned full third module of programming on Business and Entrepreneurship, but were able to provide opportunities to learn about those topics throughout the other modules. In the Equity and Justice Module, the Fellows attended local municipal government meetings (St. Louis County Council and Planning and Zoning Commission) to learn more about how government functions and intersects with the local food system, participated in a book group on “The Color of Food” by Natasha Bowens, met with a panel of experts on Food Justice including District 4 St. Louis County Councilwoman Shalonda Webb and A Red Circle’s Farming Supervisor Vince Lang, and traveled to Jefferson City to meet with State Representatives about food policy issues in St. Louis. In the Growing Food and STEM module, Fellows helped get our growing space at the Healthy Flavor Community Garden ready for the growing season by planting seeds and cleaning up the space from what was left at the end of the prior season, took a field trip to an urban farm in North County called Phi Global, LLC to learn from farmer Mitch Pearson, had a viewing and discussion of the documentary “Biggest Little Farm,” and helped A Red Circle harvest crops grown at the North County Agricultural Education Center for our weekly food giveaways called Good Food Fridays. Regarding Business and Entrepreneurship, the Fellows attended a USDA information session on the federal grant writing process, attended the local Ferguson Farmers market, and have been involved with A Red Circle during the planning process of our for-profit community-owned grocery store.