AMEN|St. Louis, Dig It STL & the Gateway Greening Urban Farm


Last week was a busy week on the Gateway Greening Urban Farm! The summer session of the Therapeutic Job Training Program is in full swing, teens participating in our Dig It! summer employment program are busy weeding and harvesting between classes, multiple volunteer groups have left their mark on our newly weed-free beds and school field trips have been ramping up the energy (and laughs) all over the place. Earlier this week I escaped the office to take pictures on the GG Urban Farm (you can never have enough images of people and food!), and came across many of these groups in action.

GGUF2Work Around the Farm

This time of year the Farm is bursting with more than people – crops are ripening, being harvested, and in some cases, being replaced. It’s all part of our Succession Planting technique, where we take advantage of our crops’ natural lifecycles to continuously plant, harvest, and replant throughout the growing season. It’s one of the many ways we make the most of our available space and also  increase our yields in an environmentally healthy, sustainable way. This week found our food distribution manager, Jannel, repainting row signs so that everyone would know where each crop is! This week also saw tomato plants being staked, cucumbers and other viners being trellised, and of course, endless rounds of weeding and watering.

Sometimes Farm Team will take on special side projects, like Farm Manager Rachel did this week. During my visit, she was busily preparing colorful container pots to be planted with assorted herbs. These containers will be used in a Cultivating Young Cooks Event at the Missouri Botanical Garden in August, an event that celebrates kids and food.


Our Farm Team staff aren’t the only ones hard at work. The Dig It crew has been busy in spite of the heat, and they have the sun tans to prove it!

Dig IT STL is Gateway Greening’s teen employment program, offering local teens an opportunity to spend their summer learning about agriculture, conservation, and gaining valuable job skills – all while getting paid.

I managed to catch up with the crew as they were wrapping up a morning spent weeding on the farm. Once the weeds were composted, the crew quickly washed up and settled in at the onsite outdoor classroom for a lesson on soil science, complete with experiment. After spending a morning weeding and working in the sun, it probably felt great to sit down in the shade for awhile!


Picture if you will: a blazing hot summer day full of sunshine, heat advisories, and stubborn weeds. For many of us, that’s a recipe for a serious case of the ‘grumps’ by lunchtime – but not this group! These volunteers are from Charleston, IL and came to spend a morning on the GG Urban Farm as part of a week-long mission trip with AMEN|St. Louis, a ministry of Oak Hill Presbyterian Church located in the Tower Grove South Neighborhood. When I met them they were cheerfully joking back and forth while freeing our Herb Berm from a serious invasion of bermudagrass.

I couldn’t resist stopping to chat with such a fun group, and learned all about their trip. In addition to volunteering at our farm, they’ve also visited Lydia’s House, Caroline MIssion, House of Goods and several other local nonprofits. When asked what they found most striking or memorable about their trip, one woman had her answer ready: “I think I’m most impressed with what St. Louis is doing to improve living here.”

Four months in:

It’s four months into my year with Gateway Greening, and I can honestly say that a trip to the Gateway Greening Urban Farm is always a new and exciting experience: you never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet. In spite of the variety, there’s a constant feeling of welcome and a strong sense of community here, making it a truly special place. With any luck, I’ll see you there the next time I escape the office!

– Erin Wood, Communications and Fundraising AmeriCorps VISTA


Gateway Greening Invites the Public to the City Seeds Therapeutic Job Training Spring Class of 2016 Graduation Ceremony

Group picST. LOUIS, MO (June 16, 2016)…Gateway Greening is working to solve issues of homelessness and substance abuse in downtown St. Louis using a unique approach: urban agriculture. For 10 years, Gateway Greening has partnered with the St. Patrick Center, an organization that provides housing, employment and health programs to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, to send program clients through a 10-week therapeutic job training program at The Gateway Greening Urban Farm.

The Gateway Greening Urban Farm, located at 2200 Pine Street, is growing everything from herbs to pumpkins. The farm is managed by Gateway Greening employee Rachel Deffenbaugh. But the real growth happens within the people participating in the City Seeds therapeutic job training program. Former St. Patrick Center client and City Seeds graduate Frank Warren explains what the program meant to him: “I was homeless, and was dying to be a part of society and not a burden. I needed to be important. I needed to matter, and then City Seeds came along. There wasn’t much money involved, but it didn’t matter. I had a chance to matter again, and that’s what I needed—a purpose. And did I ever get one.”

GroupRachel Deffenbaugh has been working with the City Seeds program for five and a half years. “We use gardening and growing things as a means of providing clients with coping skills for whatever they are struggling with but also just peace of mind.” The produce that is grown by the clients is harvested and sold through a CSA program, or Community Supported Agriculture. Any other produce harvested is sold wholesale or donated to participating clients and food pantries. On average, the farm produces 18,000 pounds of food annually.

The Therapeutic Job Training Spring Class will celebrate its graduation on Friday, June 17 at 2:00 p.m. at St. Patrick Center, located at 800 N. Tucker Blvd. in downtown St. Louis. Gateway Greening invites the public to attend the ceremony. Clients will speak about their experiences and how they have helped them overcome struggles. In addition, staff will recognize accomplishments and graduates will receive a graduation certificate.

About Gateway Greening

Gateway Greening is a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers people to strengthen their communities through gardening and urban agriculture. Gateway Greening has been working to provide creative, grassroots solutions to urban problems since 1984. Programs include supporting more than 200 community and youth-focused gardens across the St. Louis area through educational opportunities, garden supplies and technical assistance; and Gateway Greening’s Urban Farm, a 2.5-acre farm in downtown St. Louis that provides therapeutic horticulture and a jobs training program. Visit Gateway Greening at @gatewaygreening

About St. Patrick Center

St. Patrick Center provides opportunities for self-sufficiency and dignity to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Individuals and families build permanent, positive change in their lives through safe and affordable housing, sound mental and physical health, and employment and financial stability

The goal of St. Patrick Center’s three-year Strategic Plan is to work collaboratively with the St. Louis community to end chronic homelessness in the region.

For more information, visit

Building Our Community | Mallinckrodt School Garden

Gateway Greening’s primary goal is to promote community development through its various programs and, in my role as a Youth Educator, I get to witness our organization’s mission come to life.

As a youth educator, I work with schools and teachers. Instead of handing them lessons and lesson plans, I work with them and their students and we learn together how to use the school garden as a tool for education. In this process of learning outdoors, we grow a garden and we use this as a tool to grow our community.


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Mrs. Dixon showing her students how to plant peppers. She is a master of using the garden as an educational tool.

Yesterday, I was at Mallinckrodt School Garden dropping off the plants that Bill Ruppert, of National Nursery Products, had donated to Mallinckrodt Academy. During his visit to this school garden in April, Bill received a tour from a bunch of excited students. These students were so proud of their pollinator garden bed and thoroughly highlighted the purpose of these plants in their garden.


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Students giving a tour to their visitors and showing them their bug hotel. Bill Ruppert is at the back of the group making careful observations and then finding a way to support their project.


Bill noticed that they were in need of more pollinator plants and happily donated hundreds of dollars worth of plant material to fill in their sparse pollinator beds.


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In the foreground are the native pollinator plants donated by Bill Ruppert. Thank you Bill Ruppert! In the background, you are seeing Silvio turning over a bed to plant the tomatoes he grew in the Mallinckrodt School Garden.


As I was unloading these plants at Mallinckrodt School Garden, a neighbor named Silvio Angeli stopped by. He wanted to see if we needed any tomato plants. He is an avid home gardener and lives a couple of houses down from the school garden and had some extra that he wanted to share with us. I was thrilled not at the prospect of acquiring the tomato plants but for the hope of gaining one more stakeholder. I told Silvio we would love to have the tomato plants.  He not only gave us those plants but also turned over the bed and got them in the ground.


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Silvio Angeli, thank you for being a superstar, neighbor extraordinary to the Mallinckrodt School Garden!

Gateway Greening’s community gardens not only grow food but also helps people build relationships. It is these relationships that slowly strengthen our community. There are many ways to support community gardening in St. Louis. Be sure to reach out to a Gateway Greening community garden next to where you live (map) and offer your talent or volunteer with us.

St. Louis will look very different if we all find a small way to invest back in our community and build meaningful ties and relationships with our neighbors.


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Susan, a community gardener, involving students from Cote Brilliant into her gardening routine. These students helped her get the sweet potatoes planted. Community building at its best!

Thank you Bill Ruppert and Silvio Angeli for your contribution to Mallinckrodt School Garden, a Gateway Greening project. We look forward to seeing you soon.

-Punita Patel, Gateway Greening Youth Educator

Gateway Greening Partners with Crown Valley Organics for Year Two on the “Perfect Picks” Program

PP_Greenscape(ST. LOUIS, MO., June 2, 2016)… Gateway Greening, St. Louis’ expert in community gardening, is helping backyard and community gardeners find the perfect vegetables and herbs for their gardens this season through the “Perfect Picks” program, a retail produce line that began in 2015 and features vegetables and herbs that are “Gateway Greening Approved.”

Working with St. Genevieve, MO grower Crown Valley Organics, the organization has selected a number of organically grown and certified vegetable starts that grow easily in our region and provide an abundant harvest. From now through the late summer, these “Perfect Picks” plants will be available at several garden centers and nurseries in the area, with Crown Valley Organics donating 18 cents to Gateway Greening for every unit sold.

“For many gardeners, it can be overwhelming when deciding what plants to grow in your garden each season. Gateway Greening is taking the guesswork out of the game with the Perfect Picks. These veggies and herbs have been approved by our very knowledgeable staff to be the most prolific selections for St. Louis gardeners,” said Matt Schindler, Executive Director of Gateway Greening. “St. Louis Garden Centers have been very supportive of this program and now, nearly every area of St. Louis has a Garden Center carrying the Perfect Picks. It is wonderful!”

Join Gateway Greening for an upcoming Perfect Pick Autumn Garden Workshop at the Science Center’s GROW Exhibit on Saturday, July 16 from 10am-12pm. RSVP to [email protected].

For more information on the Perfect Picks Program, a list of the Perfect Picks selections, or for information on Gateway Greening and its programs, visit or call 314-588-9600.

The Perfect Picks can be found at the following Garden Centers:

  • Bayer’s Garden Shop, Imperial
  • Cat’s Gardens, University City
  • Crabapple Cove Nursery, Oakville
  • Frisella Nursery, Defiance
  • Garden Heights Nursery, Richmond Heights
  • Greenscape Gardens, Manchester
  • Hillermann Nursery, Washington
  • Intaglia Home & Garden, Maplewood
  • Local Harvest – Tower Grove, St. Louis
  • Lucky’s Market, Ellisville and Rockhill
  • Rolling Ridge Nursery, Webster Groves
  • Sandy’s Back Porch, Belleville, IL
  • Sugar Creek Gardens, Kirkwood
  • University Gardens, University City
  • Whole Foods Market, Brentwood


About Gateway Greening

Gateway Greening is a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers people to strengthen their communities through gardening and urban agriculture. Gateway Greening has been working to provide creative, grassroots solutions to urban problems since 1984. Programs include supporting more than 200 community and youth-focused gardens across the St. Louis area through educational opportunities, garden supplies and technical assistance; and Gateway Greening’s Urban Farm, a 2.5-acre farm in downtown St. Louis that provides therapeutic job training program. Visit Gateway Greening at @gatewaygreening.