Neighborhood-Based Cooperative Market Gardening in Carondelet, St. Louis, MO

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2021: $17,996.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2023
Grant Recipient: MARSH
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:

Information Products


  • Fruits: apples, berries (blueberries), berries (strawberries), melons, peaches
  • Vegetables: beans, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, cucurbits, eggplant, greens (leafy), greens (lettuces), leeks, okra, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, continuous cropping, crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, crop rotation, double cropping, food processing, food processing facilities/community kitchens, food product quality/safety, intercropping, multiple cropping, row covers (for season extension)
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, mentoring, cooperative management
  • Farm Business Management: cooperatives, e-commerce, farm-to-institution, labor/employment, marketing management, new enterprise development, value added
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, permaculture, urban agriculture
  • Soil Management: composting, green manures, organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, community planning, community services, employment opportunities, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, food hubs, leadership development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, public policy, quality of life, social capital, social networks, social psychological indicators, sustainability measures, urban agriculture, values-based supply chains

    Proposal summary:

    Low income families and people of color have been systemically excluded from land-ownership and food production while suffering the worst consequences of food insecurity, nutritional constraints, and lack of agency. Beth Neff, director/farmer of the MARSH Food Cooperative, and Mitchell Pearson, St. Louis farmer, seek to address these inequities through an integrated “ecosystem” of consumers and farmer worker-owners. By developing urban neighborhood food production capacity, we hope to improve access to high quality, locally grown organic vegetables while providing fair wage labor opportunities, promoting sustainable land use, building social capital, modeling democratic cooperative enterprise, generating innovation, and improving quality of life.

    Our project will expand MARSH’s existing urban farm by developing a large neighborhood lot into a market garden that will be farmed by paid worker-owners and will supply food through our cooperative grocery at sliding scale prices to members of the co-op and the community. Participating farmers will make group crop, production, and marketing decisions and may also develop value-added products through our licensed commercial kitchen space. By pooling resources to increase economic access and providing agricultural professionalization opportunities in an urban setting, we believe cooperative farming can be a viable strategy for food justice and sustainability.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our primary objective is to create a worker-owned urban farming cooperative that grows food for a consumer co-op and the broader community. The first step will be to engage the neighborhood in the project through meetings that share the vision for community food production, food equity, fair employment, and democratic governance. The second step will be to organize labor teams, select leadership, define the tasks, and identify necessary resources for their accomplishment. Next, teams will be charged with transforming a grassy lot into a viable food production environment, planting, maintaining, harvesting, preparing, and marketing the resulting produce cooperatively.  

    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.