Community Gardeners Are Just Unpaid Lawn Care And Janitors For The City

KaleA lot of people are sadly mistaken about the gardens on lots owned by the City of St. Louis via Land Reutilization Authority.

These community gardens were about growing healthy food. Before there was talk about food deserts, neighbors organized to plant, maintain, and share fresh produce, fruit, and herbs.

These community gardens were about creating beautiful, productive, safer community spaces where once there were weeds and trash and illegal activity.
These community gardens have been places of learning. Before there was talk of sustainability, there was Gateway Greening teaching gardeners how to grow food and pretties with best practices and giving them the gift of gardening enthusiasm to share with others.

For 35 years, Gateway Greening helped start community gardens across St. Louis. This incredible organization provides training, seeds and seedlings, expert advice and encouragement; lent tools; helped with insurance and water access, and so much more.

The City supported community gardens not only by providing the space but also free compost and mulch. It made community gardening affordable for everyone.

But the good times of the City being a gardening partner are gone.

The free compost from the City is now often of very poor quality.

Curbside leaf pick up and street sweeping yield beer cans, condoms, disposable diapers, Styrofoam food containers, plastic cutlery, needlesticks, cigarette butts, and any other garbage tossed out of vehicles, and it all makes poor and dangerous compost.

Buying a load of compost for delivery is not cheap. Picking up a load of the great free compost at University City’s Heman Park requires a truck.  Most community gardeners do not have a lot of money to spend on gardening or own a truck. They came to gardening because it was a inexpensive way to grow food nearby.

The City knows gardeners who cannot afford to buy compost will sort the trash from the useful compost in order to use it. This is why the City doesn’t pay for sorting the trash out at the front end.

In 2013, the City’s garden lease program was expanded to include individuals and not just groups. There are now 500 garden leases.

The downside is that vacant lot gardens are development opportunities. In the eyes of the City, the Mayor, current and former, community gardeners are nothing more than unpaid lawn care and janitors.

The City does not respect the community investment, money as well as sweat equity, that goes into your garden.

The City does not care that the garden is a valued neighborhood asset, a safe gathering place.

The City does not see the value of the healthy physical activity that the garden requires.

milkweedThe City only sees a parcel someone wants to develop. It sees a building permit, a statistic, not your great tasting tomatoes, sweet smelling iris, butterflies on the milkweed, and all the quality of life benefits that your garden brings.

If you’re lucky and have an alderman you can work with, your community garden may be placed in the Gateway Greening Land Trust and out of development harms way.

If not, the City can deed your little piece of heaven to someone to pour concrete all over it.

That happened today. The City sold the site of English Cave Community Garden to a family that wants to build on it.  It’s true that the group missed a deadline to renew its lease for the garden. It’s also true the group was prepared to buy the parcel. But the City prefers that the land be developed. Given a choice between a community asset and a new home, the City went with the new home. The City knows how to quantify the new home. The City gives little or no value to the garden.

This can happen to any garden parcel. The City can sell it off. You are just the free labor that keeps the City from having to mow it right now.

The only path to a St. Louis City that values community gardens is to change the people in charge. I would not bother trying to change hearts and minds. Focus on changing who is in charge.

Last Call, RSVPs For Monday Drinking Liberally With Sarah Kendzior

Join the Left Leaning Community 6:30-9 pm Monday, February 26th for Drinking Liberally St. Louis Chapter’s February Happy Hour with Special Guest Sarah Kendzior , writer/analyst on politics, media, and economy, authority on authoritarian states at Nadine’s Gin Joint, 1931 S 12th in Soulard.

Please RSVP by Friday 9 pm to and use “Sarah RSVP” in subject. This will be a very large crowd, so seating will be by name tag. No name tag, no seat.

It’s my 60th Birthday and there will be Cake. Plus, time permitting, we will play Rex Bingo.

In lieu of birthday gifts, you are asked to bring some specific food items to donate to the Lafayette Park United Methodist Church’s Brown Bag meal program serving homeless persons.

Needed items include…
Cans of Vienna Sausages
Packages of Tuna/Chicken & Crackers
Packages of Peanut Butter Crackers
Single Serving Boxes of Raisins

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman


Stop Rex! Send Your Comments On Airport Privatization To FAA

rexcYou can comment to the Federal Aviation Agency on St. Louis City’s Application for Lambert Airport Privatization here.

Posted Comments are found here.

Lambert Airport News & Commentary Feed

My comments to the Federal Aviation Agency on Lambert Airport Privatization sent today, February 21, 2018. #1k2-91ml-i487

The People of St. Louis have been left out of the official discussions on privatization of Lambert Airport. Nothing in the future of this process can undo that damage or the overwhelming conflicts of interest in this terribly flawed process.

Neither current St. Louis City Mayor Lyda Krewson, nor previous Mayor Francis Slay, asked the public if we are interested in privatization and under what scenario and process. This happened once before recently, with our Water Department. The people loudly said, No! It was stopped in aldermanic committee. That is why privatization proponents have kept Lambert Airport Privatization away from the Board of Aldermen, to avoid public involvement.

Privatization is spearheaded by billionaire, and Ozarks not St. Louis resident, Rex Sinquefield, known as Rex Inc. here. He’s the man trying to bankrupt St. Louis City by throwing his money around to try and force us to get rid of a major source of income- our earnings tax. He was a major donor to the former Mayor. The current Mayor recently passed a ballot issue with Sinquefield’s funding; donated remaining funds from a political action committee that she controlled to one of Sinquefield’s groups; was alderwoman of the ward that landed Sinquefield’s World Chess Hall of Fame.

Rex Inc. paid for the privatization Application, runs the privatization public relations machine, ran the privatization consultant application process, and, now, to no one’s surprise, is being hired by the Mayor to be the official consultant on privatization. Insult to injury, the Board of Aldermen recently passed a resolution placing Rex Inc. in charge of transparency for the privatization process. 

The previous Mayor unveiled his secret privatization plan on the way out the door and just after the St. Louis Democratic Primary. In St. Louis City, our municipal Democratic Primary is the main election, not the general election. In announcing the City was pursuing privatization after the Primary for his successor, he denied voters an opportunity to query candidates for mayor on what may be the most important decision of this century for St. Louis. Subsequently, distrust of the process has been there from the beginning.

Rex Inc will never say privatization is a bad idea. The current Mayor does not care what the public opinion is on this issue. Full steam ahead. I suspect that the only way to stop this is by initiative petition ballot, a vote by the people that bypasses elected officials. What would the FAA do if on the eve of finalizing privatization of Lambert Airport, the voters said, No? I would rather not find out. I would rather that the FAA told Mayor Krewson to start over or, better yet, just stop entirely, enough damage has been done and there is no recovering from it.

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

No To Bismarck, Yes To Honzik

noname9 am Tuesday, Board Bill 244 will be heard in the Board of Aldermen Streets Committee to rename (honorarily) one block of 7th, from Lami to Barton in Soulard, after German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

He may have been a great leader in the eyes of a lot of people around the world but Bismarck oppressed Catholics. I’m not saying we should not have streets named after flawed people. We are all flawed. I just wonder if this is a good fit for the neighborhood.

Under City Ordinance 68937, all you need to rename a block is a) a petition with 60% signatures of the voters on the block, b) money to pay for the honorary street name sign, 3) an alderman to sponsor the board bill.

What would you rename your street? Would you rename it?

Not my own street, but I’d like to see a block in Soulard renamed for Mary Honzik, later Maloney. She was a Bohemian immigrant, came over as a small child, lived around what was then Union Park in Soulard, and became the founding mother of IBEW.

About That City Democrats Meeting

hot-mess-raise-walking-disasterThis Draft of the Minutes of the January 27, 2018, Meeting of St. Louis Democratic City Central Committee shows discussion AND action relating to Independent Candidates occurring after Fundraising and before Right to Work reports. The sequence of events is incorrect.

The issue and heated exchanges began earlier when By Laws were discussed. The Independent Candidates issue was not on the Agenda for the meeting. I was under the impression that the issue was tabled until another meeting. This misunderstanding was largely due to the failure of the group to use microphones, which I had previously requested.

I left the meeting during General Discussion, after Redistricting came up

That evening, I was informed that the Independent Candidates issue came back up in General Discussion and there was a vote to request 8th Ward Committeewoman Annie Rice to resign.

Committeewoman Rice was at her MICA Board meeting instead of the Central Committee meeting. Again, she was not on the Agenda.

I had her proxy and should have been the person to speak on her behalf. Again, she was not on the Agenda. I feel very bad for not being there to represent her and cast both of our votes against the resignation motion.

It appears that Central Committee will amend its By Laws to censure or request resignation from all of us who support Annie. I have already written the Committee on this.


Annie Rice is a Democrat and I am proud to support her.

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman11272018AMinutes