2016-06-11 Trip Date
Scouting Trip # 283

2017-sbyt-logo.jpeg

The Sustainable Backyard Tour began in 2010 in Saint Louis.  It’s a grassroots event, one of the first of it’s kind, and it just celebrated it’s 7th anniversary in 2017.  Known affectionately as the SBYT, this is a free event by locals, who throw their garden gates open to the public each year, to showcase best practices in organic vegetable growing, beekeeping, chicken farming, native habitats, water retention and clean energy.  Typically, over 40 hosts showcase their backyards and gardens every year.  Green Spiral Tours took advantage of the SBYT to visit the celebrated Urban Harvest Food Roof in downtown Saint Louis.  The Food Roof is fantastic!

2017 Food Roof Logo

Located downtown near the City Museum, and above Wave Storage, you can easily park on the street next to Wave Taco, which offers a volleyball tournament arena, several tons of white Florida sand, and a tiki bar serving tacos, beer and margaritas.  To get to the Food Roof, enter through the doors at W-ave Storage, and make your way up the stairs to roof.  When you pop up, expect to be impressed by an exceptionally well designed space and vibrant scene.

2017 Wave Taco

5 staff, 15 interns, 300 volunteers, and several master gardeners help make the Urban Harvest Food Roof what it is today.  It’s a beautiful rooftop farm, showcasing best practices while collaborating with a cluster of food partners.   The Food Roof is the brainchild of Mary Ostafi, an EarthDance Farm graduate; Mary is a trained architect, who brings high design and great intentionality to everything she touches.  The Food Roof is the first rooftop farm in Saint Louis, and is growing into a localized network of farms, gardens, educators and food distributors in north Saint Louis.

2017 Urban Food Roof

There’s a chicken coop and greenhouse on the roof, plus hydroponics, a community garden, test garden, and gathering space for events, educational functions and weddings. It’s incredible, and, it’s beautiful.

2017 Food Roof Chickens

70% of the food generated is donated to partner organizations, including the STL Metro Market (the Food Bus), the Fit & Food Connection, St. Patricks and the kids at Flance. Green Spiral has hosted field trips to both St. Patrick’s and Flance in the past.  St. Patrick’s serves under-priviledged populations, and has one of the first “kitchen incubators” in the country. Flance is a Platinum-level preschool – only the 4th such school in the world – and what happens inside the building is as impressive as the green building structure itself.  It’s exciting to watch these world class, cutting-edge sustainability programs grow, right here in Saint Louis.

2017 Food Roof GreenHouse

Now here’s the best part: if you want to visit the Food Roof, and missed the chance during the SBYT, you can drop-in any Saturday morning from 9 – 12, when the Food Roof is open to the public. OR, you can attend any number of special events, such as workshops, Happy Hours, Harvest Dinners, or yoga.  The events serve as fundraisers to help fund the many programs.  Find the time to visit this incredible and beautiful farm –  on a roof! –  in downtown Saint Louis; you’ll be glad you did.

2017 Test Kitchen

Here’s the link to go on your own: Urban Harvest Food Roof

Here’s the SBYT link:  Sustainable Backyard Tour

Here’s Wave Taco on Yelp:  Wave Taco – Yelp

Here’s GPS to Wave Storage: 1335 Convention Plaza; 63103

 

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After one of the coldest winters on record, Green Spiral families ventured forth on a warm day in April to visit the famous “Chicken Ranch” in Kirkwood.
Fresh Eggs!

Ranch Fresh Eggs!

The Chicken Ranch is simply the fun name that Bill and Joan Ruppert have given their backyard hobby and chicken house — the complex is big enough to hold 50 chickens, and includes a second story look-out post! It’s quite famous in chicken circles, and if you ask to be on Bill’s email list, you’ll get an informative email about chicken happenings about town from time to time.
Let's go see the chickens!

Let’s go see the chickens!

It was super fun for the kids to feed the chickens, mingle with the chickens and even collect some eggs. After a mink came through a few years ago (yes a mink) and wantonly killed many of the chickens, the Rupperts are in the process of rebuilding the flock, now numbering about 23. They have all sorts of chickens including Americanas, Speckled Sussexes, Barred Rock Plymouths and Rhode Islands.  They also have a rooster, called Ike, who came with a hen called Tina. See if you can spy Ike, the fancy white rooster below:
So many chickens so little time

So many chickens so little time

Fond childhood memories of rural chickens was a theme and the link between generations; who will keep backyard chickens in the future without fond childhood memories to draw upon?  Would a factory farm allow Green Spiral Families to tour their chickens?  How exactly to you check a chicken to see if it’s about to lay an egg in time for dinner?  These are the kinds of questions that rise up when you join an adventure learning group together.
checking the chickens

checking the chickens

Many Green Spiral field trips involve something unexpected. Sadly, or not, there was no misadventure associated with this trip; only a pleasant outing on a warm spring day. The only surprise was that we got to buy fresh eggs at the end of our field trip!

Each a different color.

Each a different color.

 

Of course, the real prize was getting to talk to Bill Ruppert in person.  As a purveyor of wholesale plants, he’s an expert in horticulture and a major player in the movement towards native landscaping; he’s recently worked on the Citygarden, Novus International, and the MICDS projects.  If you get a chance to hear him speak, I would recommend it. Here’s Bill, plus a few links:

Here's Bill

Here’s Bill

About the Ruppert Chicken Ranch: http://www.nnpstl.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/home.showpage/pageID/7/index.htm

Best Plant Ideas: http://www.nnpstl.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.main/index.htm

Bill’s Speaking Calendar: http://www.nnpstl.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/calendar.main/index.htm

More chickens!

want more chickens!?

In the future, you can tour the “Chicken Ranch” by watching for it to be featured on the annual Sustainable Backyard Tour:

http://www.sustainablebackyardtour.com/grassrootsgreenstl.com/Tour.html

2013-10-06 Stinger fishpond with kids

Here’s a magical field trip anyone can put together:  a visit to see Joy Stinger’s urban micro-farm in the shadows of the highrise buildings near downtown Clayton.

Joy is somewhat famous, and widely known among urban chicken circles in Saint Louis.  In her backyard she has 20-30 chickens, nine beehives, a gazebo of songbirds, an upstairs greenhouse, a koi pond as big as a swimming pool, and two rambunctious Portuguese Waterdogs.  Downstairs, she has a workshop for processing honey and making specialty beeswax candles which she sells at farmer’s markets and local shops around town like Schnaars Hardware and Winslows Home.  You can find Joy at the Clayton Farmer’s Market every other Saturday.

2012-06-01 Stinger Farmer Market

You can see by the photo above that much is written about Joy by major publications; here is a particularly nice posting by local blogger “Recycled Goodness” that includes some very beautiful photos of the downstairs workshop:

http://goodnessrecycled.blogspot.com/2011/02/joy-stinger-beeswax.html

Something interesting always happens on every Green Spiral field trip, and the weather always plays tricks on us; it’s part of the Green Spiral formula about teaching children the power of resiliency by enduring hardship, boredom, and the weather.  In this case, the temperature dropped 30 degrees overnight, and tons of people turned out unexpectedly, making people have to wait their turn to see the chickens, the songbirds, or whatever.

Those who hung around in the workshop got a treat in the end; Joy took us on a tour of her house to see the indoor fishpond, the cookie molds in the kitchen, the exotic kites hanging in the living room, the handmade quilts in the bedroom and the art studio on the third floor.  Joy has had multiple careers of creativity, including that as graphic designer, furniture maker, painter and quilter.  Here are some of her many beautiful quilts, hanging on the stair railing, just above her indoor aquarium:

2013-10-06 Stinger quilts

Joy is happy to host tours, in exchange for selling honey.  When you go, take about 12 – 16 people, (not over 40 as we did), and ask for a honey tasting lesson in the basement; you’ll get to taste three kinds of honey.  Spring honey is the lightest color, as the bees are limited to mostly clover in the spring.  Summer honey is darker in color, as the bees have more food choices, and fall honey is the darkest honey, as the bees diet changes once again and sugars become more concentrated as the days become shorter.  In the workshop, Joy will also show how honey comb is harvested, how honey is processed and how to make candles from beeswax.

 

You can find Joy Stinger and chat with her at Farmer’s Markets and other festivals about town, or buy her honey and look at the label which includes her address and phone number.  Call her up, but don’t bother looking for her email, as Joy doesn’t do email.  When you see her backyard and workshop, you might wonder: who has time for email anyway?

 

2013-10-06 label

Speaking of email: the Green Spiral Field Trips are announced by email, and debriefs are posted on this WordPress blog.  If you sign up for this blog, it doesn’t mean you are on the field trip list, and vice-a-versa.  Send me (Jessie) an email if you want to be on the field trip list, and sign up through WordPress if you want to follow the Green Spiral debriefs, which are posted about once a month, after every field trip.  The debriefs are nice if you are looking for your own ideas for field trips.  The email to get on the field trip announcement list is: GreenSpiralTours@gmail.com