Ferguson farm helping heal community

FERGUSON, Mo. - On a 14 acre farm in Ferguson, Missouri, Molly Rockamann is trying to heal an entire community.

She is the Founding Director of EarthDance Farm where apprentices learn the art of growing food and sustaining the land.

"Our focus is on not only growing healthy food for the community, but also growing farmers and gardeners," Rockamann said. "We actually run a season long garden and farmer apprenticeship program. We employ area high school students to work on the farm for our junior farm crew, and we have students coming out to the farm for field trips and service opportunities."

With those resources, Rockamann and her team are now working to provide healing help to the Ferguson community.

"We've got a population of people here in Ferguson of over 21,000 people. We need more space devoted to feeding our people here, so we can be a stronger, more resilient place," Rockamann said.

The unrest in Ferguson in recent weeks has tested that resilience. Rockamann and her team are now hosting classes at the farm focused on trauma relief and non-violent communication, as well as a listening project at the Ferguson Farmer's market. A yoga instructor is offering free classes at the farm on Sundays.

EarthDance also partners with the St. Stephen's and the Vine food pantry. They encourage people to buy their locally-grown food to donate to the church.

"We just want more and more to be a place that offers not only Ferguson residents to do some of this internal processing and healing that is so important, but also a place for people to give back," Rockamann said.

EarthDance apprentice Christine Allen is optimistic the farm will have an impact.

"I think it's going to improve health. I think people need to be able to set down roots. If you are growing a garden, there's a connection there," Allen said. "And growing food is a very community-oriented process. You grow it, you've got extra tomatoes; you give them to your neighbor. There's a real connection there."

"My deepest hope for Ferguson is that we can actually finally get, as a society, past a point of racism, and can actually demonstrate how you can redefine a community and work towards racial harmony," Rockamann added.

The property now known as EarthDance farm once belonged to Caroline and Al Mueller. Their family owned the farm located on South Dade Avenue since the 1800s.

Anyone looking to contact EarthDance can reach the farm at 314-521-1006.


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