USDA chooses St. Louis for urban farming pilot program


Farmers get ready for the future of agriculture within city and county limits.

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — The exact numbers aren’t out yet, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture has singled out St. Louis as one of 17 cities to pilot a national urban agriculture program.

“What the USDA has recognized now is that urban farming is a vital aspect for growth and providing food to the community,” Tony White with Tony’s Family Farms tells 5 On Your Side.

The goal for farmers like Tony and the USDA is to limit shipping produce across the country, lowering the product’s carbon footprint and overhead cost. 

Talking about his small watermelon and tomato farm, White tells 5 On Your Side, “the restaurants I serve are less than five miles away, so we’re urban. There’s not a long trip for the product to happen.”

Farms like White’s are the start of what the USDA would like to develop.

Federal funding will go to develop: 

  • Community gardens
  • Rooftop farms
  • Hydroponic facilities
  • Aeroponic operations
  • Aquaponic systems
  • Vertical production  

For the cutting-edge technology to work, White says they need a quality start, “We can grow on top of a roof and we can grow in a lot, but we need to make sure that soil is fertile and providing the nutrients we need.”

St. Louis is on an exclusive list of major US cities designated to launch the national urban agriculture initiative, joining the ranks of New York, Las Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta. 

“It’s exciting to be in farming today because things are starting to look up positively,” White tells 5 On Your Side.

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