Growing Produce Vertically instead of Horizontally to get a High Production on a Small Urban Farm

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2016: $6,577.00
Projected End Date: 01/30/2018
Grant Recipient: Pepper Berries Urban Farm
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Christine Williams
Pepper Berries Urban Farm & Agape Grow Education Center

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: potatoes
  • Fruits: berries (other), berries (blueberries), berries (strawberries), melons
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, artichokes, beans, cucurbits, tomatoes


  • Crop Production: no-till
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, workshop, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, new enterprise development
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community services, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, public participation, social networks, urban agriculture


    2016. Overall this year was a great year!  We taught over 40 individuals about growing produce in an urban setting.  We ourselves learned several things... what we need to do to improve milk crate gardens and who to target for them.  We learned a lot more about potato towers and things we will try differently next year.  We learned how easy and effective it is to grow up instead of out. Even a 10 lb. squash can be grown up; next year we will be aiming for 20 lbs. on a trellis system.  With getting the sample/teaching garden done we will be able to do workshops right at the garden and people will be able to see what the different methods should look like when they are done.  We will be able to work with  SARE Grant for Pepper Berries Urban Farm 2 individuals on the best way for them to grow produce to bring in extra income by suggesting and helping them build non-traditional gardens to get the most produce that they can in a small area.

    Project objectives:

    Growing Potatoes      Growing Potatoes slide show       Garden classes  Farm to Table Dinner and Workshop

    Our objective was to teach growers/farmers in an urban setting how to grow vertically instead of horizontally.  For our first year we accomplished a lot.  We started with removing a tree in the center of a 40 x 60 foot area that would be our sample/teaching garden.  We build a 25 ft. x 8 ft. wall for vine crops to grow on out of 2x4s, post and wire.  This is a wall that could easily be built along a garage or house.  We only planted 2/3 of it this year and harvested on average 50 lbs. a week of cucuzza squash.  We also built a trellis system using cattle fencing and t-post 8x8.  We grew cushaw squash on this trellis. We let then get to 10 lbs. this year, next year we will let some of them mature to 20 lbs. and see how they do growing up the trellis.  We also had 2 milk crate gardens that were stacked 3 high.  One was a strawberry garden; the other was a garden with greens and a tomato on top.  We put in container gardens with sweet potatoes, turmeric and also tomatoes, cucumbers and Swiss Chard.  We will be doing the same thing again this year with some modifications.  We changed our potato towers from the 2015 year to be smaller and changed the way we grew them this year to see if we could get better yields.  This next year we will be doing them both ways plus a third way to see the yields.  All of the experiments will be done again plus we will be putting in some of the systems that we didn't get to this year such as hay bale, 50 gallon containers, gutter gardens and pallet gardens.  We will be able to look at all these different methods and compare the results and be able to teach growers/farmers in an urban setting the best methods to use for their growing situation.  For our potato towers we are discouraged with the results so far but with the changes that we have planned for next year, we are hoping for a great yield.

    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.