Give STL Day Spotlight: Urban Harvest STL
By Ranen Miao
Community Investment Intern
Urban Harvest STL is a non-profit which grows food and community through urban agriculture. Since 2016, Urban Harvest STL has harvested 16,000 pounds of food from the seven farms they manage and donated 10,599 healthy meals to those with limited food access, alongside education and engagement.
With the onset of COVID-19, incidents of food insecurity skyrocketed, leading to a spike in demand.
“It seems like now, more than ever, supporting the community in growing its own food and providing nutritious food to those in need is of the utmost importance,” says Clare Higgins Siegel, Executive Director at Urban Harvest STL. “Luckily, we have been able to continue growing and donating food to nonprofit partners serving the community with increased safety and social distancing measures in place.”
By not hosting happy hours and dinners, the organization has been able to donate an even larger portion of their harvests than originally planned, fulfilling the increase in demand.
During this year’s Give STL Day, Urban Harvest STL was able to raise $6,800, over twice what they made in 2019. It’s the generosity of St. Louisians that’s empowering the Urban Harvest STL team to continue their service through the lens of equity.
“We’re committed to centering the fact that food justice is racial justice in every aspect of our work,” Siegel explained. “We see the racism in urban agriculture and in our own community, and we strive to use our platform to dismantle hundreds of years of oppression against Black, Indigenous and people of color.”
Siegel also acknowledged the organization’s focus on equity internally: “As a primarily white organization, we know that we have work to do – as individuals and as an organization – to take meaningful action to dismantle racism and hold ourselves accountable.”
Through continuous engagement with the staff through diversity equity and inclusion practices, increasing representation in Urban Harvest STL, and increasing partnerships with Black-owned businesses and Black-led organizations, she hopes to continue making progress.
However, despite such generous fundraising, Urban Harvest STL is also struggling to fill the gaps created by COVID-19.
“The pandemic is impacting our ability to fundraise at our FOOD Roof Farm. In addition to cancelled happy hours and dinners, we have also suspended tours, field trips and workshops,” Siegel shared.
As Urban Harvest STL continues to grow in pursuit of a community where every person has access to fresh, healthy and affordable food regardless of zip code, skin color or socioeconomic status, community support will help them achieve those goals.