Known & Grown STL will help local farmers and educate St. Louis residents

St. Louisans can get to know their local farmers through Known & Grown STL, a new project presented by the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, part of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

MCE food and farm director Melissa Vatterott said the program will help farmers within 150 miles of St. Louis, also known as the St. Louis foodshed, educate people about their practices, as well as spread the word about their products. Vatterott said farmers will also be able to connect with local businesses, and local residents can be educated on where their food comes from.

“We believe that most consumers are looking for local products that are environmentally friendly and providing animal welfare when buying from local farmers,” Vatterott said.

Participants in the program include local farms like Urban Harvest and Good Life Growing, as well as operations in southern Illinois like Five Hen Farm in Carbondale and Flyway Family Farm in Makanda.

Farmers in Known & Grown must adhere to a few sustainable farming practices. Those farming crops cannot use synthetic chemicals that can damage soil and waterways. They must also adhere to at least two of the recommended conservation practices listen on Known & Grown’s site, like using a drip irrigation system, planting cover crop or creating a pollinator enhancement plan.

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Those farming animals must allow their animals to graze in open spaces and rotate on herbicide-free pastures. They also cannot give their animals any antibiotics, growth hormones or other unnecessary pharmaceuticals. Finally, the animals must be allowed to feed on grass or pasture, which can be supplemented with grain that does not contain animal byproducts. They must also adhere to at least two recommended conservation practices, like creating a nutrient management plan or a grazing management plan.

Vatterott said the Known & Grown website will serve as resource for consumers to educate them on various farming practices and provide a list of participating farms.

“Our webpage helps residents understand those common terms that are often used in farming practices and growing food,” Vatterott said. “You can also check each farm’s profile to get a sense of where they sell their products. Some have their products at restaurants, farmers markets or some even take direct orders.”

Vatterott said she recognizes that it’s not easy for every farm to adhere to the conservation practices Known & Grown promotes.

“There are no bad farmers, just practices that have varying impacts on our environment and animals. Many farmers struggle with knowing how to transition to other practices or having the support to do so,” she said. “We celebrate farmers who are committed to making a positive impact on their farms and with their crops.”

Marcelle Owona is an editorial intern at Sauce Magazine.