Farming for Community Apprenticeship and Urban Growers Education and Training Program

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2023: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2025
Grant Recipient: Urban Harvest STL
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Katie Houck
Urban Harvest STL

Information Products

2023 Crop ID Hints (Fact Sheet)
Farm Crop ID Worksheet (Workbook/Worksheet)
IPM Class Powerpoint (Course or Curriculum)
2023 Seed Starting Workshop (Training Agenda)


  • Agronomic: annual ryegrass, barley, buckwheat, clovers, potatoes, radish (oilseed, daikon, forage), sunflower
  • Fruits: apples, berries (blueberries), berries (other), berries (strawberries), cherries, melons, peaches, pears
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), greens (lettuces), okra, onions, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, Pollinators


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, biological inoculants, catch crops, conservation tillage, continuous cropping, cover crops, cropping systems, crop rotation, double cropping, fertilizers, foliar feeding, forest farming, greenhouses, high tunnels or hoop houses, intercropping, irrigation, multiple cropping, no-till, nutrient cycling, nutrient management, organic fertilizers, pollination, pollinator habitat, pollinator health, relay cropping, seed saving, water management, water storage, sheet mulching
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, workshop, Apprenticeship
  • Farm Business Management: apprentice/intern training, farmers' markets/farm stands
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration, habitat enhancement, soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: biological control, competition, integrated pest management, mulches - general, mulches - living, mulching - vegetative, physical control, prevention, biopesticide
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, community planning, community services, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, leadership development, local and regional food systems, partnerships, public participation, social capital, social networks, social psychological indicators, sustainability measures, urban agriculture

    Proposal summary:

    Food inequity affects 15.8% of St. Louisans according to Feeding America. Food Apartheid in St. Louis is a lingering effect of extreme redlining and a long history rooted in systemic racism. 90% of residents in the Low-Income Low-Access (LILA) census tracts we target are BIPOC families, many without a car, with black families in St. Louis being 6x more likely to receive food stamps than white families. If families are able to get to a grocery store, food retailers in the historically redlined area of St. Louis tend to stock low-quality produce in low quantities that are often covered in harmful herbicides and pesticides. 

    Additionally, these census tracts feel the greatest consequences of environmental racism. There are fewer green spaces, fewer trees, and more paved areas north of the Delmar Divide than anywhere else in the city. These communities suffer from the urban heat island effect, flash flooding, biodiversity loss, and poor air quality.

    Historically, educational opportunities on urban farms have been unpaid and inaccessible to those who cannot donate their time. To address food inequity and create food sovereignty in St. Louis, all stakeholders must be able to participate in the food system, particularly those in LILA areas. 


    Project objectives from proposal:

    Urban Harvest STL (UHSTL) educates people of all backgrounds on urban agriculture, sustainable and inclusive food systems, and the relationship between wellness and food through our Farming for Community Apprenticeship Program. 

    Our target demographic is individuals over the age of 18 that live in Low-Income Low-Access (LILA) census tracts. In order to recruit participants, UHSTL relies on our community partners, asking them to share our opportunities with their own program participants. After recognizing that unpaid hands-on educational opportunities are not accessible to much of our target population, we have offered a stipend and transportation assistance to all program participants. In 2022, we saw such an increase in interest in our program that in subsequent years we will allow applicants to waive the stipend in order to make spots available to those who need it, increasing our engagement within a broader community. 

    In 2022, we educated 20 apprentices out of 72 total applicants. Due to the community's interest in the program and their local food system, we are expanding our program to include 24 paid apprentices and additional engagement and educational opportunities for 25 program alums. 

    Our apprentices take part in an 8-week, hands-on, paid education program. Weekly, apprentices work a farm shift at one of our 5 farm sites and participate in a virtual seminar that reinforces the topics they learn on the farm and introduces environmental and food justice concepts. They are also introduced to other urban growers through field trips at equity-minded community farms and gardens to help expand their community of practice. Our alumni engagement program will involve a series of workshops hosted by UHSTL and other key stakeholders that cover different urban growing topics, such as planting strawberries or container gardening.

    Each of our 5 farm sites showcases a unique method of growing organically and sustainably in an urban space. Our apprentices visit each space in order to learn which method suits their circumstances the best. The Rung for Women farm is our largest farm at just under an acre, showcasing bio-intensive planting and soil regeneration in traditional farm rows, surrounded by natives, pollinators, and a large food forest. The Fresh Starts Community Garden showcases growing in a traditional community garden with raised beds and allows each apprentice to learn the benefits and drawbacks of growing organically in a shared space. The Sally’s Rooftop Garden showcases container gardening using 1,400 milk crates, a gardening style accessible to those in urban areas with limited land space. Finally, the Flance and Guardian Angel Schoolyard Gardens showcase small-space organic growing for the purpose of education and consumption. 

    In each lesson, during each farm shift, and at each workshop, the importance of sustainability as it relates to environmental justice is heavily stressed. Our farming methods are mindful of each ecological stressor that urban environments are plagued by, such as biodiversity loss, lack of green spaces, and the urban heat island effect. Our apprentices expand our mitigation efforts by utilizing our growing methods in low-food access neighborhoods across the city.


    1. Increase 24 apprentices’ understanding of urban agriculture and food justice through participation in farming activities and classroom lessons
    2. Connect apprentices to 4 community gardeners of color and at least 2 other community leaders as an avenue of mentorship 
    3. Develop Urban Growers Education and Training program to provide continued support and education opportunities, with a reported 85% satisfaction rate, 65% rate of increased knowledge of growing techniques or engagement strategies, and 40% continued engagement with community leaders or projects.
    4. Increase food security for St. Louis residents through the production and distribution of 3,000 pounds of food with the support of apprentices 

    apprenticeship flyer that we use to recruit participants

    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.