A farm? In the city of St. Louis? Some neighbors aren’t happy
Karen Hancock shows how high the corn is that surrounds her house on Hancock and many of her neighbors do not like the new country-like atmosphere in their north St. Louis neighborhood. A Jackie Joyner-Kersee-owned urban farming outfit planted corn and soybeans on 60+ acres it’s leasing from Paul McKee.
“I am isolated. I can’t see anything. I don’t feel safe. I can’t see my neighbors. I have a six foot fence around my house and the corn is eight feet high, ” said Hancock.
By Tim Logan
St. Louis Post
Sept 20, 2013
ST. LOUIS • Shirley Booker didn’t sign up to live next to a farm. But these days, when she looks out the front door of the house where she’s lived for 37 years, a farm is exactly what she sees.
It stretches across about 10 blocks on 23rd Street in the city’s St. Louis Place neighborhood, some of it planted with corn, some with soybeans. The land was bought from the city last year by Paul McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration LLC, then leased to a farming company founded by former Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee. It’s being billed as perhaps the largest urban agriculture experiment in the country, and a way to put long vacant land to productive use.
But to at least some of the people who still live among them, the rows of tall corn and green soy are an insulting nuisance.
Since the fields sprang up earlier this summer, Booker said, so have new pests — bugs and possums in and around her house. She’s seen cars drag racing through the alleys on weekend nights, hidden by 8-foot stalks. Several residents said they worry about getting mugged. Then there’s just the jarring shift — with no advance warning — from living in a depopulated urban neighborhood to living in something that looks like Iowa, if Iowa had the occasional crumbling brick vacant building sprinkled in.