Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Slow Food Southeast Missouri’s cause for homegrown food and self-made community

Friday, September 24, 2021
Monica Foltz uses a Slow Food bucket filled with rainwater to pour on top of a pile of compost, located in the Slow Food community garden. Currently, they are growing hops, strawberries, figs, sage, and sunflowers in the garden, along with many other plants, fruits and vegetables.
Photo by Emma Kratky

If you’re looking for a community filled with empowerment, education, local friends and farmers, or just any kind of healthy food that isn’t from campus, Slow Food Southeast Missouri has you covered.

Since starting during the summer of 2020, Slow Food Southeast Missouri has expanded into an ever-growing organization focused on educating people about the impact of local food, compost and farming. Their mission is to create an interwoven community full of active and healthy members.

Slow Food is an international organization with local chapters throughout the world, and Spanish Street Farmacy owner Lance Green said he wanted to bring the organization’s impact to Cape.

Green first started the downtown Cape Girardeau restaurant Spanish Street Farmacy after working in local farmers’ markets for 10 years. His vision was to create a country-style cafe that provides all homemade and homegrown food at a low cost.

“We wanted a very affordable and accessible way of connecting with consumers, farm to fork,” Green said.

Green was introduced to the Slow Food organization after looking more into how to restore local food to Cape Girardeau, and began work toward forming a board and local chapter.

“The main thing we are looking for now is to find like-minded people that care about local food and restoring local food to our area, as well as beginning to make choices that establish local food as a viable part of everyone's grocery bags,” Green said.

On Monday, Sept. 13, Slow Food had its first official meeting between their board and the public. They discussed their plans for the organization and how they wanted to expand and asked for community help with donations and projects.

Ed Crowley, an entrepreneurship professor at Southeast and member of the Slow Food Southeast Missouri Board, was the spokesperson for the meeting.

“We have a couple of goals for our chapter specifically: creating lasting change in the food system, making healthy food more available, and educating producers, consumers and supply chain on healthy food and regenerative practices,” Crowley said.

Currently, Slow Food is working on the Curbside Compost Initiative, a project that connects the community through composting and bike riding.

Every Thursday night at 6 p.m, those involved with the project ride bikes around downtown Cape Girardeau and collect compost buckets left outside of houses to return the compost to the Slow Food garden.

Aaron Arznen, project leader for this initiative and member of the Slow Food organization, was inspired to start this project from the time he spent working at Jerusalem Farm, a Catholic intentional community in Kansas City.

Arznen highly encourages students to get involved with the project. Anyone can show up on Thursday nights at the community garden, located at the back of the Riverfront Market, to help them with the project as a volunteer, he said.

“We also always invite people to come here on a Saturday morning, if no one has been to the market, just to see what a local food exchange is,” Arznen said.

Monica Foltz, Curbside Compost Initiative leader, said the project is having a positive impact on the community. She said it helps to further the discussion about how beneficial composting can be for both the environment and people's physical health.

“It’s very cool to see that more people want composting in their neighborhood, and hopefully more people get inspired to start this up in their own little neighborhoods,” Foltz said.

Within the next year, Slow Food Southeast Missouri wants to begin a new project: the creation of an urban farm. It will be open to the public for volunteer work, and Green hopes it will bring the community together to get hands-on experience with local food.

“I’d like to see property that’s unused or in disrepair that's able to be converted into something that’s beautiful and productive and can be a source of work and enjoyment for the community,” Green said.

For more information about Slow Food Southeast Missouri or to sign up for the Curbside Compost Initiative, visit their website.