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Planting a healthier future

Urban farming in St. Louis is helping create networks that combat rampant food insecurity

From a half-acre farm in Florissant, Missouri, Tyrean “Heru” Lewis works to combat food insecurity in the community he grew up in.

Lewis is just one man in a growing network of markets, vendors and volunteers that are helping the nearly 50,000 St. Louis residents living in "food deserts." 

To Lewis, these areas are “Food Apartheids,” rather than the often-used term - food deserts. “I say ‘apartheid’ because a desert is natural,” says Lewis. “This was created on purpose.” 

The city experienced 270 homicides on the last year, 70% of which occurred in low-income census tracts without access to a grocery store within a half-mile. 

Research, including that from the St. Louis Dept. of Health shows that food insecurity is tied to rates of physical and mental health issues, which, in turn can lead to higher rates of violence in these communities. 

This story was written by Hurubie Meko as a collaboration between the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star.

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