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

Project Overview

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


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. annual), peas (field, cowpeas), sunflower
  • Fruits: berries (blueberries), berries (brambles), berries (cranberries), berries (other), berries (strawberries), melons, paw-paws, pears
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), greens (lettuces), leeks, lentils, okra, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants
  • Miscellaneous: Native perrenials


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, conservation tillage, cover crops, crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, crop rotation, double cropping, drainage systems, drought tolerance, fertilizers, forest farming, greenhouses, high tunnels or hoop houses, intercropping, irrigation, low tunnels, multiple cropping, no-till, nutrient cycling, nutrient management, organic fertilizers, plant breeding and genetics, pollination, pollinator habitat, pollinator health, relay cropping, seed saving
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, technical assistance, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, competition, field monitoring/scouting, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, mulches - general, prevention, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, community planning, community services, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, food hubs, leadership development, local and regional food systems, partnerships, quality of life, social capital, social networks, urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    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 from proposal:

    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.

    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.