Food & Drink

Urban Farming Grows Up

Cultivate KC celebrates 10 years of urban farming with a tour of local farmsteads. Discover three farms you can visit this weekend.

For the past decade, Cultivate KC—an organization that promotes building healthy communities through locally grown food—has been planting the seeds, both figuratively and literally, for the city’s urban gardening community.

This week the organization celebrates its harvest with a full lineup of celebratory events, the largest of which is the Urban Grown Tour.

“In the last 10 years especially, there’s been a really dramatic increase in not just gardens but also urban farms—where people are growing to sell either at farmers markets or to restaurants and even farms where they’re growing to donate all of their produce to feed a wider community beyond themselves and their families,” Cultivate KC Communications and Outreach Manager Ami Freeberg says.

Saturday, Cultivate KC will celebrate its birthday with a party in the Westport Middle School field. For the urban farming organization,10 years provides the opportunity to reflect on the progress made.

“People have embraced urban agriculture,” Freeberg says. “Ten years ago, urban agriculture left people scratching their heads. They’d picture cows and corn on a city block; people just didn’t get it. And now we’re at a point where people are looking to local and organic food.”

Looking forward to the coming years, Freeberg says Cultivate KC has been tasked with turning the Westport Middle School field where they’ll be celebrating into a giant urban farm—and hopefully one community members can be inspired by and model their own after.

And this weekend’s Urban Grown Tour presents an opportunity to see similar landscapes all over the city. Cultivate KC hosted its first Urban Grown Tour in 2005 to showcase seven urban farms. This year’s tour includes 30 farms from various parts of the city (and volunteers are still needed—sign up here).

“This is a really great opportunity for people to get out and see where their food is coming from,” Freeberg says. “Anyone who likes to eat—which hopefully is everybody—should check it out.”

For just a taste of this weekend’s farming festivities, here are three can’t-miss urban farms or gardens on the Urban Grown Tour.

Juniper Farm training farm

Cultivate KC helps run the New Roots for Refugees program—a four-year farming-intensive training for newly resettled refugees in Kansas City. Juniper Farm hosts the program, which provides four acres of land and farming training and helps farmers learn to market and sell their produce. When graduation day rolls around, the program helps the new farmers buy their own land and start their own business.

Freeberg says a visit to the garden involves hearing upwards of 10 languages and seeing people and plants from all over the world.

The program has graduated 11 farmers since 2005, and you can see the farms of three graduates on the Urban Grown Tour.

The Urban Farming Guys

The Urban Farming Guys moved into the Lykins neighborhood with the mission to building a sustainable community through growing food, feeding the community and providing educational resources.

Freeberg says they’re doing innovative things up north that can be reproduced in communities across the world. One of their more unique projects is their aquaponics operation, which raises tilapia and uses the fishes’ waste to fertilize a garden.

Urbavore Urban Farm/BADSEED

Urbavore, a diverse urban farmstead in east Kansas City, grows vegetables and fruits that end up at the owners’ BADSEED Farm & Market, held every Friday night in the Crossroads. It’s also home to an orchard and 200-strong hen flock and employs no-till farming and composting techniques.

You can buy tickets to the Urban Grown Tour here–Lauren Rutherford