Community Agriculture Conference


Sunday, February 25 | Noon – 5:30 PM
St. Louis University High School
4970 Oakland Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110


Gateway Greening welcomes you to the St. Louis Community Agriculture Conference! Our intention behind the creation of this convergence of local and national urban agriculture leaders is to celebrate the innovative projects, and individuals that make the St. Louis region a leader in community agriculture.

Participants will have the opportunity to hear from food innovators making an impact nationally, and from local experts creating change in St. Louis. Join Gateway Greening as we kick-off the 2018 growing season, and continue to work with us to support community growth through the power of growing food.


Online registration is now closed.

Walk-ins welcome! Ticket prices will be $20 per person any may be purchased at the registration table beginning at noon on the day of the event.


Keynote Speaker: Rob Reiman

We face a perpetual lack of food in our country – especially fresh, high quality nutritious food. The Giving Grove is a relatively young non-profit based out of Kansas City with an innovative approach to empowering low income communities to grow their own sustainable food system using fruits, berries, and nuts.   Rob Reiman, The CEO for Giving Grove, will be sharing the history of the organization, their innovative business model and 5 year milestones and outcomes.

Mr. Reiman, a devoted environmentalist, serves as the CEO for Giving Grove. He recently retired from Deloitte Consulting after 27 years of providing consulting services to multi-national companies and numerous public sector agencies at the state and local level. Rob is now engaged in environmental policy, social justice programs and projects that support a more ecological, healthy, equitable and sustainable world.  


Breakout #1 Speakers & Topics

When registering, participants are asked to choose from one of the following Breakout #1 Sessions:

2:15 – 3:30pm

Food as Medicine

Presented by Brigitte Zettl, St. Louis Community College 

Join Brigitte Zettl of the St. Louis Community College Horticulture Program to learn about the power of food and how thinking about your food as medicine can lead to a healthier lifestyle, and body.

Brigitte Zettl is a farmer, herbalist, and educator currently working as a faculty member, and greenhouse manager for the STLCC Meramec Horticulture Program.  As the founder of Crown Valley Organics, she worked for years to empower the St. Louis community with vegetables, fruits, and herbs grown without synthetic chemicals.  Her passion is to help others connect with the Earth in a way that improves their lives, health and ecosystems!

Building for Diversity in a Youth Garden

Presented by Nelver Brooks, ESOL Teacher at Nahed Chapman New American Academy

What do you do to bring diverse people – from all backgrounds and languages together? How do you bring people together when those same people may be starting from a place of division and separation?  You invite them to garden.

Mrs. Nelver Brooks holds a Master’s in Counseling, and a Master’s in English as a Second or Other Language.  She holds a Psychological Examiner’s Certificate from Lindenwood University.  She has earned three bachelor’s degrees in Political Science, Public Administration, and Pre-Law, all from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.   Mrs. Nelver Brooks received her Elementary and Middle School Certification from Harris Stowe State University and was selected as an Outstanding Young Woman of America.

Urban Orchard Maintenance

Presented by Rob Reiman, CEO of Giving Grove

This session will focus on the key technical elements of adding fruit trees to a community garden or backyard.  Topics will include: Site Selection, Variety Selection, Buying & Planting Fruit Trees, and Maintenance.

Please see our the biography for Mr. Reiman above, under Keynote Speaker.

Building Community with your School Garden

Presented by Petra M Baker, M.Ed., Ed.S., Principal of Gateway Michael Elementary School

Hear the story of Ms. Baker and her lessons learned in creating a vibrant learning environment at Gateway Michael Elementary alongside a Youth Garden. This session will address what to consider when building a culture behind a Youth Garden, and how to integrate that garden into a greater community and school environment.

Ms. Baker has been involved in education for over 27 years. She holds the following degrees; a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Alcorn State University in Lorman, MS, a Masters in Educational Administration and an Education Specialist Degree in Administration from the University of MO, St. Louis.

She taught for fourteen years as an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher prior to becoming an Assistant Principal. She has spent nineteen years at Gateway Michael School, serves students with serious health problems and multiple disabilities, ages three through fourteen. She spends time in Gateway Michael’s Community Garden with her staff, students, and parents. Through these efforts, Gateway Michael School received a Bronze Award from the Alliance of a Healthier Generation.

GROW Exhibit Tour (up to 25 participants max)

Presented by Hannah Reinhart, Plant and Animal Manager of the GROW Exhibit at Saint Louis Science Center

Discover the new exhibit exploring the journey of food! The GROW tour will cover the entire grounds of the 1-acre exhibit including the “UFO” chicken coop and flock, the HomeGROWn section demonstrating DIY gardening techniques and best practices, the “Farm Tech Field” combine, and the aquaponics greenhouse showcasing how to farm indoors using fish for fertilizer.

As the GROW Plant and Animal Manager, Hannah’s main responsibility is to keep things alive and flourishing. In addition to planning and leading seasonal plantings, she works as the exhibit’s chief chicken keeper, worm wrangler and bumble bee caretaker. Prior to joining SLSC in spring 2016, Hannah worked for Gateway Greening for nine years where her responsibilities included running the annual Community Garden Summit. Hannah is also a backyard chicken keeper, beekeeper, and garden leader for her community garden in the Tower Grove South neighborhood.

Breakout #2 Speakers & Topics

When registering, participants are asked to choose from one of the following Afternoon Breakout #2 Sessions:


Permaculture in Urban Environments

Presented by Matt Lebon, Owner of Custom Foodscaing

With a vast knowledge of food production techniques in urban landscapes, Matt Lebon of Custom Foodscaping will show how permaculture design can help you create a perennial abundance right here in the city.  Learn about innovative design techniques that not only look great but will literally have food falling from the sky.

Custom Foodscaping is owned and operated by St. Louis native, Matt Lebon. Drawing on over ten years of farming and gardening experience, Matt has become an expert in edible landscaping, organic agriculture, orcharding, and permaculture design.  In his role as Farm Manager at EarthDance Organic Farm School, Matt educated hundreds of students in the practices of regenerative food production.  He has also transformed his 5,200 square foot yard from grass to abundance by installing a rain garden and planting an urban food forest.   Now, with Custom Foodscaping, Matt brings his passion for delivering the joy of “home-grown” food into our most frequented institutions.  Custom Foodscaping is dedicated to transforming the everyday places we work, learn and play into beautiful food-producing landscapes.

Planting the Seeds for Equity in St. Louis

Presented by Nicole Hudson, Deputy Mayor for Racial Equity and Priority Initiatives and Ryan Albritton, Co-founder of Sprouthood and a Consultant for the Progressive Strategy Coalition. 

This session will explore the crossroads of social, environmental and food justice in St. Louis as they relate to community agriculture projects. As we reflect on our regions challenges/opportunities for social growth, how can we use urban ag projects to be agents of social change?

Nicole Hudson served as the Communications Director for the Ferguson Commission, and then served as the founding executive director for Forward Through Ferguson, the non profit that took over the work of the Commission. She is currently St. Louis City’s first Deputy Mayor for Racial Equity and Priority Initiatives.

Ryan Albritton is the founder of Sprouthood, a company focused on building local community through local food. He is an active member of the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition and serves as a communications consultant for the Progressive Strategy Coalition, a national organization supporting progressive candidates and policy.

St. Louis North City Food Hub

Presented by Millie Mattfeldt-Beaman PhD, RD, LD – Project Coordinator, North City Food Hub, Professor Emerita, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics and Gibron Jones, Owner of HOSCO Foods

Explore the North City Food Hub — A partnership of community groups in north St. Louis, is a unique collaboration that offers entrepreneurship classes, an incubator program to accelerate food-related businesses; a shared use kitchen where residents and students can turn produce into marketable products; a food processing center; a grocery store; and a home food delivery operation are all in the vision.

Dr. Mattfeldt-Beman PhD, RD, LD, is currently Professor Emerita in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Saint Louis University and PI for the USDA grant North City Food Hub.  She was Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Saint Louis University for over 35 years. She received her PhD from SLU with a research emphasis in preventive cardiology and was Co-PI on a NIH clinical trial – Trials of Hypertension Prevention and PI for a USDA Community Food Project Grant “Gardens to Tables,” establishing school gardens and nutrition curriculum at nine inner city schools as well as a teaching garden at SLU.  Currently, she serves as PI for a Missouri Foundation for Health grant, Healthy Eating with Local Produce (HELP), establishing a food processing and distribution center to get local food into school lunches; Start to Actively Recycle Today III (START III) a program to recycle solid food waste; Sustainability Grant to establish a Geothermal High Tunnel; and Incarnate Word Foundation Grant to establish the Metro Market mobile grocery store.

Since 2010, Gibron has worked through his company HOSCO, in St. Louis to address food access problems; nutritional education and improving economic conditions through locally produced foods and products. Gibron has been building, developing and teaching aquaponics and workforce development since 2012. Gibron has trained directly under Will Allen of Growing Power a internationally known grower and leader in urban agriculture, aquaponic food production and system development. After working to build several systems with Growing Power in Kansas City and at Growing Power located in Milwaukee, HOSCO was formed to create similar processes here in St. Louis. In 2014 Gibron was hired as the lead consultants for the St. Louis Science Center’s $7.5 million agricultural exhibit “Grow.”

SLUH Sustainability Tour (Max of 20 Participants)

Presented by Bill Anderson, SLUH Science Teacher and Garden Director

Science teacher and Garden Director Bill Anderson will lead a walking tour of the SLUH campus to discuss and showcase some of the many sustainability efforts that have been undertaken.  This will include a tour of the community garden, the solar panels, green roof, aquaponics, efforts in the school cafeteria, recycling and composting, and general school improvements.

Bill Anderson has taught chemistry and environmental science at SLUH for 34 years. He has strong interests in gardening, aquaponics, and sustainability. 

Explore Scholarship Opportunities

Event Parking Information

Parking is available for the Community Agriculture Conference along Oakland Ave., and in the SLUH Parking Lot. If anyone needs to leave early from the conference while the parking lot is in operation, vouchers for free parking will be available at the registration desk.

Please download the SLUH Parking Map here.


Online registration is now closed.

Walk-ins welcome! Ticket prices will be $20 per person any may be purchased at the registration table beginning at noon on the day of the event.



Thank you to our Sponsors!



Gateway Greening’s Community Agriculture Conference was financed in part through an allocation of Community Development Block Grant funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the City of St. Louis’ Community Development Administration.




Sign Up for our ENews!