Every city has problems. And those problems are often too large and plentiful to be taken on by a single resident.
But Mary Ostafi is not the average resident. The St. Louis native is working on a project that she hopes will be able to aid in multiple issues in her community.
The architect founded her non-profit, Urban Harvest, back in 2011. The company’s goal is not only to provide a greener resource for food, but also to aid in community revitalization efforts in St. Louis. Those efforts are more evident than ever now, thanks to the company’s new Urban Roof Farm venture.
The Urban Roof Farm project involves transforming the 9,000-square-foot roof of a building near downtown St. Louis into an urban garden. The garden contains organic, locally-grown vegetables and produce. But on top of that, Ostafi hopes the project might help to offset the “Delmar Divide,” an invisible barrier along Delmar Street that splits the city socioeconomically and often racially.
The Urban Roof Farm is located just about a block away from the Delmar Divide. And efforts like it have been pulling more and more people across that invisible line, making the city less of a divided one. Ostafi told the New York Times:
“St. Louis is definitely a one-block-at-a-time kind of city, and it starts with grass-roots initiatives. The initiative to create a community space was already here, and we’re building upon that to help meld the divide.”
Ostafi’s non-profit is just one example of a project that can have this type of impact on a city. Other businesses that want to help bridge different neighborhoods could use similar ideologies. If you simply offer something that people on both sides of a dividing line are likely to want, it could help to create some sense of a larger community.
Ostafi’s Urban Roof Farm isn’t likely to solve all of St. Louis’s issues on its own, as other businesses aren’t likely to do in their respective cities. But if other entrepreneurs follow suit and start to provide useful products and services in the same area, Ostafi might become a bit closer to her goal.
Image: Urban Harvest