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Our “MOA Member Feature” blog series is an effort to highlight our many wonderful MOA members and their local farms all across Missouri! Our goal is to connect consumers across the state with farms that are doing incredible things right here in our own backyards!
This month’s MOA member farm feature is focused on Christine and Bradford Williams with Pepper Berries Urban Farm! Christine is secretary on the Missouri Organic Association board and is an invaluable addition to our decision-making team. We are so grateful for her support for MOA’s mission! Christine and Bradford have been running Pepper Berries Urban Farm in Independence, Missouri “officially” since 2014 but they really started their farming journey long before that.
Christine volunteered her time to answer a few questions about their farm and their growing journey.
Pepper Berries Urban Farm
How long have you been growing/farming/producing? What do you grow/produce? And what made you start?
Bradford & Christine Williams started their urban farm, Pepper Berries Urban Farm in 2014 in the heart of Independence, MO. However, they had been growing their own food for their large family for over 25 years at that time. They also grew their own flowers for their wedding business. For about 8 months out of the year they rarely had to buy flowers or greenery from the wholesalers. In 2014 they moved from Odessa back into the city and started urban farming with the intentions of being a teaching farm. They not only taught all styles of gardening but cooking, canning and other forms of saving food for the future.
In 2019 they made another change and moved the farm to the inner city, one of the worst parts of Kansas City with the intentions of changing an area by teaching others how to garden, cook and put their food up for the future. They moved to Beaumont Baptist Church that sits on 7 acres and hit the ground running, setting up gardens, building a certified teaching kitchen, writing grants, teaching gardening, cooking, preserving, floral design and art classes to kids and adults. They also started a farmer’s market at the farm to give access to healthy local food in a food dessert. April 2022, they put in a country store that sells only local products such as meat, eggs, jams, ferments, soaps, hand- made crafts and so much more, Agape Grow County Store and Farmers Market at Beaumont.
What advice would you give to beginner farmers?
When we teach young and new gardeners, we tell them to start small, when you have succeeded in a smaller area through the hot season then add a little bit more every year. July and August are the hardest months to garden. Succeed in wedding, growing, feeding and watering a small garden then build more. Continue learning every year, for better ways to grow produce organically. This year I am trying to control the bad bugs with essential oils that I learned about at the MOA conference in February 2022. Gardening is a journey, enjoy it and take small steps to reach the goal!
Where can we find your produce/products?(i.e. At a Farmers Market, your website, in local restaurants, directly from you farm, etc.)
Bradford and Chris also sell their products at the Independence Uptown Farmers Market, Agape Grow Farmers Market and County Store and are getting ready to sell on line with Market Wagon. They also sell to a couple of restaurants.
What made you decide to join MOA?
We made the decision to join MOA to be able to learn new ways to grow healthy produce organically. We use a lot of different organic practices on our farm such as companion planting, mulching to keep water from evaporating quickly and control weeds, lasagna gardening and no till gardening and controlling bad bugs with good bugs, and using organic practices to have healthy soil for our plants to grow in.
We are so happy to shine light on local farms and farmers around the state!
We are so happy to shine a light on local farms and farmers around the state!
Missouri Organic Association (MOA) is a 501-(c)3 non-profit membership organization founded in 1993 by the organic farming community of Missouri. From its beginning, MOA has dedicated itself to holding an annual organic conference for its members and the farmers/producers of all organic agriculture-related production.
For more ways to connect with local farmers in Missouri, join us for MOA’s annual Mid-America Organic Conference! The 2023 conference will now be held from Friday, February 3rd – Saturday, February 4th. Learn more by visiting the 2023 Mid-America Organic Conference page.