EarthDance Farms: A Model of Sustainability in Ferguson [PHOTOS]

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EarthDance Farms has its roots in a fifteen-year-old girl's first encounter with organic agriculture.

Hoping to cultivate his daughter's love for fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, Molly Rockamann's dad took her to visit Al and Caroline Mueller's organic farm in Ferguson.

The seed was sown. It took more than a decade to germinate, but germinate it did. Now what began in 2009 as an apprenticeship program at the Muellers' farm has grown into EarthDance. A year ago this week, with funding from the Open Space Council, the nonprofit was able to purchase the fourteen-acre urban farm where Rockamann's dream began.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

Apprenticing at EarthDance Farms involves a great deal of fun. And weeds.

See also: - Molly Rockamann cultivates Gut Check's urban-farming acumen

Today EarthDance plants and harvests organic produce, raises chickens and even keeps bees. The fruits of the farmers' labor can be purchased at the Tower Grove Farmers' Market, the Ferguson Farmers' Market and EarthDance's own CSA program.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

The sign at the entrance to EarthDance Farms, made from repurposed windows.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

The first CSA share of the season included rainbow Swiss chard, green garlic, radishes, shallot tops, arugula, mesclun and spicy braising greens.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

This herb spiral should produce herbs longer into the season than traditional methods, using less space. Behind the herbs, a "Three Sisters Garden" features interplantings of corn, beans and squash, another naturally enhanced growing strategy.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

One of EarthDance's three chicken tractors. The chickens are raised by Jeri Villareal of Our City Farm; moving the tractors allows the chickens access to fresh grass for foraging and spreads their dung around the farm, thus fertilizing the land.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

Some of Jeri Villareal's laying hens.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

A shade house provides protection for vulnerable seedlings.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

The entrance to EarthDance's herb garden. The farm sells its organic herbs at the Tower Grove and Ferguson farmers' markets.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

The season's first cabbages.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

Purple Express kohlrabi is similar in texture and flavor to a broccoli stem or cabbage heart but milder and sweeter. The entire plant can be eaten raw or cooked.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

Volunteers and apprentices till cucumbers.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

Stephanie Jansing, the farm's assistant manager, gets her hands dirty.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

Row grasses and hairy vetch add nutrients and nitrogen to the soil.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

One of spring's simple pleasures: new potatoes.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

Gibbons Honey keeps a bee colony in a woody area on the farm.

      Crystal Rolfe
  •       Crystal Rolfe

The old Mueller farmhouse. The wood and materials from various abandoned structures around the property will be salvaged and repurposed with the assistance of Refab STL.

Editor's note: Sometimes food renders Gut Check speechless. That's why God invented the DSLR. In our continuing effort to cause your mouth to water onto your keyboard, we bring you our weekly Food Photo Essay.

More Food Porn! - Midwest Pasta Company on Cherokee Street: Fresh-Made Noodles in Pixels - Sump Coffee in South St. Louis - Tower Grove Farmers' Market: Opening Day - I Scream Cakes Is Ready for Its Close-Up

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