Farm Blog

Our City Farm blog about daily life on our St. Louis City Farm.
Posted 10/14/2019 6:24pm by Jeri Villarreal.

Our City Farm is a labor of love. In the fall of 2016, that farm became more labor than love. The Spring of 2017, I realized that I wasn't able to continue farming as I had; there just wasn't enough of me to go around. We had many instances of vandalism and with each theft, they took more than things, they took my passion and will to continue my dream; my farm.

Taking a break can be good and this break has brought so much clarity and direction. I realize, I love farming with every fiber of my being. I love my community that supported what we did to the very end. Also, I still believe that everyone should know where their food comes from, how it was grown and have the confidence that it is safe and natural. I want to provide people with nutrient-dense, natural food that tastes great, looks beautiful and gets people excited about what's on their plate.

Bring on the purple peppers, yellow carrots and white summer squash because Our City Farm is back! In my heart, we never left. When you drive by the farm in the coming months, you will likely see a dramatic transformation. The farm will not only get some much needed love and attention, we will also be putting in new structures and laying out the farm in way that allows us to grow as much produce as possible. Stay tuned for the finished product. 

Growing season 2020 is going to be amazing!!!

Posted 5/22/2015 9:20am by Jeri Villarreal.

I was remembering today as I put on my 'Farmer' shirt (it literally says 'Farmer' across the chest), of why I started farming. I thought of my first brush with food allergies and though I was personally involved, I was unfortunately not the victim. At about 10 months of age, my daughter seemed to have an insatiable hunger. Me, a working mother, going to college full-time at nights and trying to pump breastmilk to keep up with growing demand started to realize my milk supply was decreasing as my stress level increased. My manager at the time recommended that I try supplementing with a bit of formula and keep pumping to try to keep up. So, I purchased some formula and poured 8 ounces in her bottle. I went to the daycare to feed her myself on my lunch break since it was right around the corner of my job. I held my daughter in my arms as I rocked her in the rocking chair feeding her the bottle of formula that I had warmed. To my surprise, she quickly finished the entire bottle and quickly fell asleep. Suddenly her eyes opened wide and she threw up almost everything. Disappointed I thought, "Well, so much for that!". Then she closed her eyes.

While I cleaned my daughters clothes, I realized, her eyes were still closed. She coughed a bit but never opened them. Right before my eyes, it seemed like she was changing. She didn't look like my baby all of the sudden. I tried to wake her, she wouldn't wake up. She was limp like a ragdoll. In a panic, I put her in her carseat and drove her to the hospital, screaming at her and patting her purple arm trying rouse her.  I ran into the ER with the formula and my daughter in my arms. I told them this is my baby but she no longer looks like my baby after drinking this formula. Her features where swollen and deformed. Her skin was mottled and splotchy with purple and red streaks and her veins were visible. When the doctor saw us, she came in for less than 15 seconds, exclaimed, "Oh my God" and ran out to get medication. I was completely a wreck. But it turned okay. It could have been a tragedy, I did so many things wrong. Driving her to the hospital? What was I thinking? I wasn't, at all.

My daughter was diagnosed with a severe allergy to dairy. Later after testing, that list increased to dairy, soy, eggs, peas, peanuts and tree nuts. If that was the end of that story, I may not be a farmer today, but that was only the beginning. When I got pregnant the second time, I was more closely monitoring my diet. I eliminated peanuts during the pregnancy. When he was 6 months old, I had him tested and he was not allergic to peanuts! However, he was diagnosed with a severe allergy to dairy, eggs, tree nuts and later, we found he had a frightening reaction to kiwi. His trip to the ER was as a result of trying a food that starts with 'K' at preschool that left him unable to swallow and hardly speak. 

After my mild "success" with eliminating peanuts from my diet, I started to research more about food. I learned about GMO's, about how chickens and cows are fed, treated and processed. I learned about antibiotics and hormones. I bought seeds and three baby chicks. It was a start. But I wasn't truly able to put it all together until after my third, severely allergic child was born. We were 3 for 3 and while there were some mild allergies in my family history and my husband's I felt there was something much bigger at work here. 

Fastforward 10 years since that frantic visit to the ER with an unconscious 10 month old, I'm a farmer! I've learned so much about food and immunology. I also developed my own severe allergies but I'm working through that with a change in diet. My children are healthy and living with their food allergies with serious understanding. They are very much aware of the danger and are always asking if items are "safe" for them, even my 5 year old risktaker. 

I know that today's factory farms and big business growers don't have my family's best interest at heart. I knew that if I grew my own food, I would do it with care; free of harmful chemicals, hormones and steroids. I started my farm because I felt that everyone deserved to have food that was safe and healthy for their family and if these large corporate farms refused to do it, I would. So, here I am growing for your family as if it were my own because everyone deserves good food. 

Posted 4/15/2015 9:44am by Jeri Villarreal.

The CSA signup period has been briefly extended and we hope that you are able to get yours. We are one of the few CSA's in town that have such an extensive offering of not only heirloom, naturally-grown fruit but also eggs and chicken all locally grown. This year, we have two pickup locations: Farm Location (4539 Delmar) and Tower Grove Farmer's Market (3877 Connecticut).

Signup today and don't miss out! Use code WAIT2015 to save 7% off the total CSA share cost:

CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR CSA NOW!

Posted 3/26/2015 9:15pm by Jeri Villarreal.

Today I realized that we are starting our fifth season farming! It really seems like yesterday I was just a young backyard farmer with a few chickens, 10 raised beds and a dream to continue to grow. That is just what happened! A year and a half later, I found a vacant lot in the city and saw a dream coming true. Today when I pulled up to the farm, I was beaming with pride and joy remembering those times and being able to see my dream become reality. From 10 raised beds to 50 raised beds and 4 fifty-foot berms and a hydroponic greenhouse. From backyard chickens to a 12x14 coop and a 3,500 square-foot chicken yard. We've truly come a long way.

The farm is now fenced and it's time to install what I think will be one of the most beneficial and important feature of the farm. The Edible Landscape. This will 1000 square feet of growing space in the front of our farm dedicated solely for the benefit of the community. Imagine naturally grown, beautiful fruits and vegetable available at the fingertips of any passerby that it interested in trying them. This is a way to reach out to the entire community and give back a bit. I hope encourages kids to try a new food and for people to want to learn more about growing their own food. I cannot wait to complete the installation. The first work day on this project is scheduled for Saturday, March 26th from 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM. We would love to have you help out with this very exciting project! Sign Up and Join Us!

Posted 3/20/2015 12:41pm by Jeri Villarreal.

Spring has sprung and not just veggies are popping up at Our City Farm. Our new fence is being installed and we are thrilled. This fence will help in deterring theft and keeping uninvited animals from disturbing our beds and chickens. We have asked that the fence be set back 10 to 15 feet from the sidewalk in front of the property. This will allow us to install an "edible landscape" at the entrance to the farm.

Farm Construction

Our edible landscape is a way for us to give back to our community and connect with our neighbors. The landscape will overflow with fresh, naturally-grown fruits and vegetables that are free for anyone who would like to try them. We will include information on how to properly harvest, prepare the produce and suggested recipes. This will give Our City Farm a new way to connect with our friends and neighbors and hopefully introduce people to something new, fresh and delicious.

Exciting things are happening at the farm! We will be having an Open Farm in April to showcase all of the new additions and improvements we've made at the farm. So far, this Spring is shaping up to be a fruitful one!

Posted 2/22/2015 1:17pm by Jeri Villarreal.

Winter has been long and cold and all we keep thinking is thinking is, "Just thaw enough to work the soil a bit". While that hasn't happened yet, we have our seeds in hand or on order, the farm plan is complete and the girls are ready to get situated in their new coop. 

Last season we focused on a lot of infrustructure and scaled back the CSA and decided to not go to market. This year, all of the remaining projects are scheduled to be completed before the CSA begins. We will fence in the remaining property. Install a bramble patch and increase the number of fruit trees. While we can't expect honey this year, we are installing our first hive. The hydroponic greenhouse is also scheduled to be completed by May. If you would like to volunteer to help out with any of these projects or with any of our weekly farm tasks Sign up here!

We are returning to Tower Grove Market this year and are so very excited! This will also allow us to open up another pickup location and interact with our friends and neighbors. If you are suffering from the winter blah's, think spring and secure your spot with our CSA! Join Now

Posted 10/9/2014 12:03pm by Jeri Villarreal.

I want to somehow capture the sweetest moments of summer to enjoy bit by bit during the cold winter months. For me, tomatoes hold all the goodness of the season! While tomato sauce is a staple in our house, I wanted to provide our customers with another sweet and tangy option. So we are processing Tomato Jam with the last of our harvested heirloom tomatoes and naturally-sweetened with local honey. Ingredients are locally-grown including fresh ginger which makes each taste of Our City Farm Tomato Jam a true taste of our St. Louis summer.

Jars of this amazing jam will be available in our online store and our current CSA members will receive a free jar this season. Pair it with toast and eggs or a savory cheese on crackers. It will soon replace your ketchup and barbeque sauce as your favorite condiment

 

Posted 8/1/2014 11:47am by Jeri Villarreal.

A CSA share can be a foreign concept for some and for others, the idea of commiting to 26 weeks of picking up something you've never experienced can be unnerving. For this reason, we are offering a one month CSA trail that will start September 6th, 2014. This will allow you to make an informed decision about the 2015 season by giving you the opportunity to "try it before you buy it". When you do decide our CSA is right for you, enrollment in our CSA Trial will allow you to bypass our waitinglist and reserve a guarenteed spot in the 2015 CSA Session. So, if you've been unsure of whether our CSA is right for you, enroll in our CSA Trial today and give us a try! Hurry, enrollment for this trial ends August 18th!!

CSA Share Summer 2014

Tags: csa, enroll, trial
Posted 6/24/2014 12:43pm by Jeri Villarreal.

June 2014

Just a few weeks ago I laid out the tentative schedule for the upcoming farm projects. Though our dates have changed a bit, I am happy to report that progress has been made! Our beautiful custom chicken coop, loving named "Coop DeVille" because it's the Cadillac of coops, has been delivered to the farm! The chicken yard construction will begin this week and hopefully wrap up on Saturday, June 28th! On Sunday the remaining girls will be moved to Coop DeVille.

 

Our fundraiser for the fencing is wrapping up this week but you can still order your T-shirts and contribute to Fence Fund! Construction for a portion of the fence will tentatively begin the week of June 30th. 

While these projects are in the works, we also experiencing a bumper crop of cucumbers, green beans and lettuce! It's been truly wonderful. Check out Local Harvest Grocery to find some of our produce in store or purchase items online from our farm store!

We are hosting two events in July: a Chicken House Warming Party and our 2nd Annual Potato Dig for Kids! Check back for more information or join our mailing list! There is a lot going on at Our City Farm and we are so excited that you are a part of it!

Posted 5/19/2014 3:50pm by Jeri Villarreal.

Our City Farm has continued to grow and strive to achieve new things each year. However, every year, it seems that we leave behind an ever-growing list of unfinished projects. The CSA takes so much time, work and planning that our necessary infrastructure projects tend to take a backseat. So, this year, we have drastically reduced the number of CSA shares so that we can focus on tackling "the list".

You know that rewarding feeling when you check off the items of your "To Do List"? Well I thought I'd share our Farm Project List with you all so that we can check in and let you know where we stand with getting items checked off.

Farm Project List 2014

  • Prep and Plant Heritage Grain Phase 1 of 3 Areas (End of May 2014)
  • Install Edible Landscaping, Farm Exterior (June 2014)
  • Build Out Chicken Yard and Chicken Coop (Mid- June 2014)
  • Construct on-site compost bin system (End of June 2014)
  • Install drip irrigation (July 2014)
  • Finish Greenhouse Setup (July 2014)
  • Set Up Hydroponic Systems (Mid-July 2014)
  • Install Phase 1 Solar Power Systems for Greenhouse (July 2014)
  • Install Permanent External Fencing (End of July 2014)
  • Install 3 additional 50 foot perennial berms/raised beds (End of July 2014)
  • Install 3 new bee hives (empty) at main farm (September 2014)

We'll check in by mid-June with our progress and again at the beginning of July with all the work we've (hopefully) accomplished.  To help us tackle this important and huge list of items, we are hiring a part-time Temporary Farmhand, if interested,  apply here!

By Fall 2014, Our City Farm will be quite a sight to see and we will be inviting everyone out to the farm to celebrate!

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