4th Annual Sustainable Backyard Tour Set For Sunday, June 22, 2014


by Terry Winkelmann, Sustainable
Backyard Tour, Founding Director

Ahhh, the backyard: ignored and unvisited six months out of the year in St. Louis, yet vitally important to our world every day. Aesthetically, backyards can make or break a neighborhood especially if they wrap around to include the front yard and side yard. And whatever they look like, they’re home to an amazing range of life, from the microscopic springtail to the majestic hawk.

The backyard is where the environment intersects the individual. It’s where we barbecue, sunbathe, build playhouses and swing. It’s where we mow, water, fertilize and attack weeds. It’s where we grow vegetables, make honey, pick apples, and collect eggs. It’s the Environment right outside the door!

The Sustainable Backyard Tour celebrates healthy backyards and a healthy environment. This June 22, for the fourth year in a row, homeowners throughout St. Louis city and county will open their gates to the public to help spread the news that backyards can be so much more than places to mow and weed.

The tour started from a universal curiosity to see inside our neighbors’ backyards! Because, especially when new to a neighborhood, you sometimes need to get ideas and find out what grows best or what’s allowed in your area, say, if you’re thinking of keeping bees or chickens or putting solar on the roof. This unique event allows you to go behind the fence and see what works. Over the course of five hours on a beautiful Spring day, you can find out first hand whether chickens are loud or compost smells and see how big elderberry bushes get or how much space zucchini needs in the garden.

More than 30 backyards will be open for viewing this year; some have been on the tour since the very beginning but others are brand new. You can read about their yards, in the owners’ own words, on the tour website: www.SustainableBackyardTour.com
Among them are rain gardens, homesteads, native landscapes, certified Audubon backyards, permaculture projects, old farms and new business ventures.

Many of the yards come from the memberships and connections of our community partners: St. Louis Audubon, Slow Food St. Louis, Saint Louis Beekeepers and Grow Native!

There is no starting point. You design your own walking, biking or carpooling route based on the listings nearest you or by your own particular interests, whatever they may be. The map and booklet will be available for pickup at select area businesses, like Kakao Chocolate, EFS Energy, Verde Kids and Greenscape Gardens, starting in mid-June.

This year, special activities for children in select backyards and a scavenger hunt will be part of the program!

And on top of all that, the whole day is completely free; all we ask is that you RSVP to attend so that we know how many people to expect. There is a Registration link on the home page at www.sustainablebackyardtour.com.

Those who register to attend will be entered into a drawing for door prizes from our community partners. After the tour, registered attendees will also receive a survey via email so you can give us your feedback, comments, and suggestions.

Tell your friends and neighbors about the Sustainable Backyard Tour! Pack a picnic and make a day of it. Mark your calendars now for Sunday, June 22 from 11 to 4 p.m. and we’ll see you outside.
Visit www.sustainablebackyardtour.com.