Known & Grown STL’s mission is to build a resilient, equitable food community by supporting and promoting farmers within 150 miles of St. Louis that use humane, chemical-free practices and spreading awareness about why environmentally-responsible farming is important.
A report by Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) in 2014 outlined the opportunities for local food to meet the nutritional needs of our region while improving soil, air, and water quality and addressing public health outcomes for diabetes and obesity. Known & Grown STL is part of the response to that report and a feasibility study funded by the USDA Local Food Promotion Program.
Our research and experience tells us that corn and soybean production and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) dominate much of the farmland in the St. Louis Foodshed (the interdependent players in our food system within 150 miles of St. Louis). By contrast, farmers in our program are dedicated to growing their products and raising their animals with practices that protect the Foodshed’s soil, air, and water resources.
Achieving our mission
We vet and promote farmers who use humane and chemical-free practices within 150 miles of St. Louis, increase connections between farmers and buyers, show eaters where to buy Known & Grown products, and educate the public about how environmentally-responsible farming benefits us all. We visit each farm to ensure they meet our standards for Good Stewardship Practices before promoting them on our website and social media. We share information about farmers markets, stores, and restaurants so customers can find produce and animal products from farmers in our program. We respond to our network of farmers’ needs, address food system gaps, and provide information about how sustainable farming benefits people, communities, and our planet.
Anti-Racism at Known & Grown STL
Our food system and systemic racism have been interwoven since America’s inception, from the removal of Indigenous people from their land to forcing enslaved Black people to work on plantations to more recent crimes, such as food aparthied caused by redlining, worker exploitation, and discriminatory Farm Loan practices. These measures were designed to build wealth for white elites by standing on the backs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and have weakened our resilience to shocks and stressors, such as food insecurity, climate change, and global pandemics.
Food, farming, food security, and systemic racism are all interrelated and interdependent. In other words, it is impossible to talk honestly about building a resilient and equitable food community – Known & Grown STL’s mission – without discussing racism’s role in our food system and working to change the status quo.
We are determined to fight systemic racism in our food system by:
- Using our platforms to share information about food justice
- Providing outreach and assistance to BIPOC farmers
- Lifting the voices of BIPOC organizations working on food justice issues
We invite like minded farmers, future farmers, food suppliers, restaurateurs, consumer advocates, and consumers to join us in building a future where everyone has access to growing and consuming local, humanely-raised, and chemical free food.
If you have suggestions on ways Known & Grown can help in the fight against systemic racism in our food system, email [email protected] with your ideas.
Programs and Projects
This pilot program is for beginning and traditionally disadvantaged farmers seeking to improve or expand their environmentally-responsible practices and remove barriers for successful farming. Our first year of this pilot program will provide three farmers with tailored guidance and assistance from our Farm Specialist, Chris Wimmer. Next year, we hope to expand the project and pair experienced Known & Grown member farmers with mentees.
We started coordinating bulk supply orders in 2020 to lower overall costs for farmers by reducing shipping fees and qualifying for bulk ordering rates. This project lowers the barriers for successful farming by providing products and at affordable rates.
Gift Bag Project
In 2020, Known & Grown staff curated holiday gift bags made with items from our member farmers and partnered with local retailers to sell them, bringing additional funds to struggling farmers during the pandemic. We sold over 80 bags in this initial offering, putting over $3,000 into the hands of our farmers and local food retailers.
Known & Grown partnered with Earthworms, a 31 year old radio-show-turned-podcast on KDHX, to create an occasional “Earthworms on the Farm” series featuring interviews with Known & Grown farmers.
Most of Known & Grown’s advertising has come in the form of earned media, but thanks to recent grants, we were able to purchase underwriting spots on St. Louis Public Radio.
We provide connections and resources for the 50+ farmers in our program and our partners in the local food industry in order to increase the amount of local food sold and served within the St. Louis region. In the future, we hope to create Known & Grown STL pop up markets featuring only Known & Grown farmers, providing selling opportunities that are otherwise allusive for beginning farmers.
Farmers in our program say one of the main reasons for joining our program is that they want the opportunity to network with other like minded farmers to share resources, troubleshoot problems, and brainstorm solutions. In response to this desire, we started a closed Facebook group for member farmers, created a farmer-only message board on our website, began hosting monthly virtual farmer meetups, and continue Missouri Coalition for the Environment’s tradition of hosting an annual all-farmer meeting.
Local Food Locator
To make finding local food from Known & Grown farmers easy, we created an interactive tool where users can enter their location, select specific types of ingredients, and find available retail locations near them. In addition to this tool, we create sharable guides to sustainable dining and shopping for social media and our monthly newsletter.
Farmer Advisory Committee
In 2020, we created a Farmer Advisory Committee (FAC) to formalize farmer leadership in program work and decision making. Our FAC consists of 10 farmers that represent the diverse range of perspectives of our entire membership.
We want to live in a world where:
- Everyone knows a farmer. We want to help increase the number and diversity of farmers in our foodshed that use regenerative farming practices and are good stewards of our land, air, and water. Customers have options when it comes to local farmers, but sustainable farmers are doing more to protect and preserve the environment. They care about their customers, about their animals, and about our shared air, water, and soil.
- Access to food from our Known & Grown network of farmers is not a privilege. Healthy, pesticide-free, and pasture raised food is available to all people in our foodshed.
- Customers are educated about sustainable buying choices and make informed decisions about their food. Customers will avoid greenwashing and seek out environmentally responsible and pasture raised options.
- Farming is actively used as a regenerative solution to climate change within our foodshed.
- Our foodshed is comprised of a strong, resilient community in the face of shocks and stressors.
- No one is exploited anywhere, up or down our food system. Farmers and their employees make fair wages, community health is not put at risk by factory farms, and animals are treated humanely..
- Farmers in the Known & Grown network are a thriving and essential part of our greater food system.