Dear Collaborators past, present, and future:
Over the last two years, MARSH has transformed an abandoned property in the Carondelet neighborhood of south St. Louis into a food cooperative, an urban farm, a licensed kitchen/diner, a residency program, and a laboratory for EMERGENT HUMAN-SCALED GENERATIVE SOCIAL PRACTICES. After severe flooding in the spring/early summer of 2019 and a global pandemic for most of 2020 so far, the MARSH team has become even more invested in the community we live and work in and firm in our desire to continue developing, along with neighborhood partners, the concept of mutual aid.
The MARSH Food Cooperative is the hub around which our activities revolve. As food systems become more precarious due to climate disaster, food access more fraught by exploitive and extractive capitalist structures, and governance systems more destabilized, it is more important than ever to develop generative relational economies based on principles of cooperative ownership, democratic governance, fair labor practices, social justice, and ecological responsibility rather than profit.
Our idea has always been to create an integrated system of consumer-owners, worker-owners, and producer owners in an effort to uproot the cruelty of competition and directly address the oppression of the “market.” While some of those efforts have been put on hold due to COVID (primarily, the worker-owned kitchen/diner and all the gatherings we were supposed to be having!), we are ready to move forward with community-based food production based on the idea that a neighborhood can pool its resources to make fresh produce available to themselves and others, help redistribute wealth by positioning food products in relationship to capacity, build stronger communities by working together, offer fair compensation for work, improve our lived environment, reduce carbon emissions, and build a skill base for resilience and resistance.
The Carondelet Community Betterment Federation has agree to make a vacant double lot (2750 sq. ft.) located at 7200 Minnesota available for a working community garden. We would like to develop this property to provide fresh produce to co-op members, the neighborhood, and as ingredients for the development of high-quality, economically prepared foods in the kitchen, and to make paid labor hours available to worker-owners.
The property has space for 18 30-foot rows.
Cardboard = free
Landscape fabric = $130
Wood chips = $200
Soil/compost mix = $2300
Seeds and plants = $350 (includes asparagus, strawberries, onions, and vegetable bedding plants)
(Asparagus $80, strawberries $38, onions $100, seeds – $6 per row/18 rows – $108)
Total = $2956
Spreading compost = 20 hours X $16/hr. = $320
Hauling and spreading chips = 20 hours X $16/hr. = $320
Planting: 2 hours per row X 18 rows X $16/hr. = $576
Maintenance/weeding: 4 hours per row X 18 rows X $16/hr. = $1152
Watering: 2 hours per week X 30 weeks X $16/hr. = $960
Harvesting: 4 hours per week X 30 weeks X $16/hr. = $1920
Washing, prep, and marketing: 8 hours per week X 30 weeks X $16/hr. = $3840
Total = $9088
Total Project Costs = $12,044
Because we are operating as a workers-owned cooperative, any profits from the sale of produce (after establishing a reserve for next season’s garden) will be distributed to workers based on hours worked. The availability of produce will also expand kitchen opportunities to develop products for the co-op and the diner.
PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING WHAT YOU CAN TO HELP US CREATE the first ST. LOUIS COOPERATIVE MARKET GARDEN.
MARSH is the DBA of the 501(c)3 not-for-profit Spark for the Arts. All donations are fully tax deductible. Donor letters are provided for tax purposes on donations of $250 or more. Bank statements will show the name “Spark for the Arts.”
Questions or suggestions? Contact us at [email redacted]