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Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities - Michael Hancox EPISODE 64
Urban Agriculture—Infrastructure and Impact
00:00:00 00:22:51

Urban Agriculture—Infrastructure and Impact


The Impact Domino Effect: From Neighborhoods to Cities to Regions

In This Episode:

[01:19] Rachel Deffenbaugh is introduced.

[01:29] Rachel shares how she became involved in urban agriculture and why urban agriculture is important to her.

[02:15] Rachel states what Gateway Greening is.

[02:31] What is the difference between community gardening and urban agriculture?

[03:19] How should urban agriculture be looked at in terms of it being a system within a community.=?

[04:58] Rachel talks about why we should focus energy on urban agriculture.

[07:25] Rachel shares her thoughts on the direct economic benefits of urban agriculture.

[10:49] Mike comments that urban settings can make the food system more economically viable.

[12:13] Rachel speaks about the consumer side of food.

[13:11] Mike mentions the book The Two-Income Trap by Elizabeth Warren and talks about the other things in our economy that are more expensive than food.

[14:16] Rachel talks about what Gateway Greening is doing to make St. Louis more of an urban agricultural place.

[17:50] Rachel describes the goals and vision of Gateway Greening.

[20:33] How can listeners support the work of Gateway Greening?

[21:24] Rachel shares resources for those who do not live in the St. Louis area.


Rachel Deffenbaugh managed the Gateway Greening Urban Farm for over 6 years, during which time she developed and implemented dynamic employment and therapeutic programming for individuals struggling with homelessness, mental illness, and/or addiction. She has a diverse background in sustainable agriculture and therapeutic horticulture. She recently transitioned to supervising the Therapeutic Horticulture program at the Missouri Botanical Garden.


Gateway Greening isn’t just about gardens and plants. It’s about working together to create something beautiful — safer, more colorful neighborhoods for our children; food for the underprivileged and opportunities for the homeless; and a city that embodies our vision of sustainability and hope. Gateway Greening is a community of gardeners, neighbors, friends and volunteers. And we believe that by educating and empowering our community through gardening and urban agriculture, we can continue to grow St. Louis into the city we know it to be.

Take Away Quotes:

“For me, community gardening has a very localized effect. So it’ll be a garden in a neighborhood, or at a church, that is really focused on whatever community is connected to that garden, which is really significant and impactful for that community. Urban agriculture has a much bigger focus. Maybe it’s a whole city that is impacted by the programing and the produce that is grown there, or potentially even a whole region. So it’s really kind of the scale of what you’re working with.”

“Urban agriculture can be easily integrated into any sort of community with intention behind it… in the case of where I work, it might look like a big—we have a two-and-a-half acre urban farm in downtown St. Louis; and we operate a lot of different programs and impact people struggling with homelessness; we bring in volunteers from all different walks of life, all different communities; we have a teen-employment program. So that’s a very centralized, kind of top-down approach to urban agriculture, which I don’t think is bad by any means, but there’s also the bottom-up approach that is out there as well.”

“Another thing that urban agriculture can be if you’re a city planner or developer or something is tucking in agricultural elements into what you’re already doing. So if you’re redesigning the streetscape in some cute little neighborhood or something, rather than using nonfood-producing trees, use apple trees, pear trees, whatever kind of trees fit your climate best, but some sort of food-producing tree. They take the same level of maintenance and care as any other tree, but the community can benefit that, and it’s no more effort than anything else, and there’s a whole urban-agriculture element already tucked into what exists.”

“…the other thing that I really love about urban agriculture is that it has this incredible power to bring people together, which I think is true of anything having to do with plants. Whether we’re talking about a food-producing plant or your Aunt Margaret’s prize-winning rosebush or whatever the case is, I think humans are inherently drawn to plants.”


Gateway Greening

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