19 EarthDance Organic Farm School


EarthDance Organic Farm School here in Ferguson is a teaching farm, offering food and educational programs on a Pay What You Can basis for learners of all ages. Growing healthy soil, food, and community is central to their mission. The EarthDance team believes and works to ensure that health begins in the soil.

The farmer educators at EarthDance are steadily learning, using, and teaching organic farming and gardening practices. Working in partnership with nature is at the heart of everything this team does. “We’re striving to work in a symbiotic relationship with the soil and the land and the overall ecosystem,” Lead Farmer and Educator Jena Hood said. “We are nature!”

To grow and share fresh, healthy, organic food with you for whatever amount you can pay, the farmers work diligently to:

Nurture biodiversity – Biodiversity means the coexistence of many kinds of plants, animals, and microorganisms. It’s essential for human health and well-being, as well as that of the environment as a whole. Biodiversity is vital to soil fertility, fending off plant diseases, erosion control, crop & tree pollination and more. It also makes the farm so beautiful!

Add organic matter to the soil – Adding carbon-based matter that is breaking down – like leaves and compost – to the soil helps to create a thriving ecosystem for everything that lives in, on, and in connection with the soil.

Do a lot of weeding! And allow weeds to grow – Herbicides are harmful to the environment, and we don’t use them, so the farm team does A LOT of weeding by hand. A flame weeder is used when possible. And, anywhere farmers aren’t currently growing food, many weeds are left to grow – they’re just plants! Many of them have flowers, and pollinators love these flowers. We do, too!

Avoid mechanical tilling, or deep churning of soil – Soil disturbance can be harmful to the soil and everything that lives in it. Soil compaction is an ongoing challenge for food growers, though, and sometimes it’s necessary to help loosen soil so that plants and other organisms have the below-ground air, water, and space they need to thrive. Other ways we break up compacted soil to improve aeration and water flow include using a broad fork – a manual garden tool – or by planting a cover crop of tillage radishes that have very long roots.

Plant cover crops – Non-food crops help replace soil nutrients, slow erosion, improve soil density, and add organic matter to the soil as they decay.

All of these practices and more help sustain the land, the ecosystem, and EarthDance’s ability to grow and share fresh, delicious, organic food in our community. If you’ve never visited EarthDance, it’s a lovingly tended gem, tucked right into a Ferguson neighborhood, at 233 S. Dade Ave. Enjoy a farm walk or drive during Farm Stand hours. The EarthDance Pay What You Can Farm Stand is open Fridays 3-6pm and Sundays 11am-3pm. And Pay What You Can for produce at their booth at the Ferguson Farmers Market, too! Every Saturday 8am-Noon at 501 S. Florissant Rd.

“We hope that the care and commitment we have to tending to farm in these ways, that you can taste it in the food,” Jena said.