Land access is a common barrier for beginning and other farmers, and is uniquely challenging within urban settings. Availability, cost, parcel size limitations, specific location (e.g., proximity to markets or residence, neighborhood acceptance), competing uses, and soil quality (in the case of toxic soil contamination) make secure tenure on appropriate urban parcels difficult. In general, most urban land is not affordable to purchase for most farm operations and what’s affordable may not be suitable for farming. Many urban farmers seek alternatives to buying land, such as leasing and often, vacant lots are seen as attractive for urban agriculture.
There are various ways to go about accessing urban land for food production which more information can be found in the Selecting & Accessing Land section in our 2019 Urban Agriculture Guide. However, apart from purchasing or leasing vacant land for food production, local growers can look into collaborating with local landowners who are interested in lending, leasing, or selling their private vacant land to local growers to turn their land into productive urban gardens or farms.
The STL Growers & Landowners Facebook Group , a project of the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, is designed to connect growers, landowners, and anybody else looking to collaborate on land access and urban, suburban, and rural agriculture projects in the St. Louis Foodshed (150 mile radius from St. Louis Metropolitan region). Along with this platform, the St. Louis Farmland Interest Map allows local landowners and growers to visually see where and from whom, there is interest to grow food. This map is populated from survey results from the STL Farmland Interest Survey for growers looking for land and the STL Landowners Survey for landowners with land to grow food on in the region. If you are interested in participating, please fill out one of the surveys depending on your interest and join the Facebook group to engage with other local growers or landowners.
The map below visually displays the results of the two surveys above.