Is the Urban Harvest’s Food Roof in downtown St Louis. Mary Ostafi has created a haven for food in an urban setting. Her love for the soil and it’s health, shows in the ways she cares for the Food Roof, her plants and her volunteers. A dear friend and fellow farmy, Brett Hilling, made the introductions and I started volunteering at Food Roof the first week of August. In my first conversation with Mary, she explained that she started Urban Harvest STL because she wanted to grow food where she lived. As an architect, moving to downtown St Louis most recently from Chicago, she wanted to grow her own food. Three years later...she has created this urban, roof top farm, Food Roof!
I’ve learned a couple of similarities and differences between organic farming on the ground, lots of ground…and on the roof top with a limited amount of ground.
Pests will find your treasures no matter what. Managing them is the same: careful observation, decisions on how to remove (usually finding and squishing) and how to go forward to alleviate the pressure.
Sunlight/Air flow seems to be different in that there is no shade on the roof top and the air has nothing to stop it’s flow.
Rain storms wreck more havoc on the roof top, there is less protection so the little plants are all on their own against the wind and rain.
My job as rainmaker every Wednesday when I show up is to begin by watering the beds. Then I take on any tasks Mary has on her white board. The first week, Luis and I planted basil.
The next week, I cleaned up debris in the beds and tasted micro greens that Jeff is growing. AMAZING!
I wasn’t aware of how much eating would accompany farming. It reminds me of my favorite quote of Wendell Barry – Eating is an agricultural act!