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Woman Plants Seeds To Fight Food Injustice With Julia’s Farm STL

Julia Thompson is as pleasant and easygoing a conversationalist as one can find. She has a kind and thoughtful demeanor alongside a deep sincerity that immediately makes whomever she happens to be chatting with lean in and listen closely.

While she is respectful and polite to a fault, her laidback style belies a grave seriousness when she turns to her greatest passion and the reason behind her local St. Louis, MO, business, Julia’s Farm STL: food justice. The self-described “girly-girl” shared her journey to that passion with Garden & Health and the genesis of her interest in growing her food.

“My journey with food justice, I want to say, started in 2019,” Thompson began, “But my love for just knowing where my vegetables came from started in 2018.”

“I had a neighbor who was growing. [She was] a very mature lady. … She yelled over to my little fence one day and like, ‘I have 14 tomato plants!’” she continued, cracking up a bit. “And she’s like, ‘You’re not using your backyard. And I need to plant the tomato there!’”

Photo Courtesy Julia’s Farm STL

With a simple directive from a determined neighbor, Thompson dove right in.

“I was like, ‘You know, how about this? Give me this tomato plant. Tell me what I need. And I’ll start it, I’ll do it,’” Thompson said. “So, she told me what I needed. And it just took off from there. And it was one of the best experiences of my life.”

From there, Thompson’s natural curiosity took over, and she enrolled in a small farm school to learn more about where her vegetables and meat came from. She makes sure to point out that she is also interested in animal husbandry.

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Thompson’s passion for learning more and doing more really began to intensify, partly because of a growing lack of access in her community to necessities that were common before the onset of the coronavirus.

Photo Courtesy Julia’s Farm STL

“Oh my goodness! [COVID] really intensified my need to really grow and engage in my community,” Thompson said. “There were stores that limited how many bags of beans you could buy, the meat you could buy. Like, it was a shortage, and it was actually very scary.” 

“Not only was the [bath] tissue and, you know, those types of things not accessible, but our food,” she continued. “So, that was really, really a pivot in the food justice piece of it for me.”

After studying more about the history and impact of food injustice in communities like hers, Thompson knew she had to do more. “It just really intensified my need to really engage the community and really grow and share my knowledge of just growing [was because of] my community,” she said.

After starting her urban growing operation, Julia’s Farm STL, with the help of a few friends and mentors, Thompson’s dreams began to manifest and expand in her mind. She started holding events in her community, including free veggie giveaways. When asked what the long-term future she sees for her business and her community, she laughs.

Photo Courtesy Julia’s Farm STL

“My goal is to have at least every other block in my community with a chicken coop in the back!” Thompson said immediately. “I want every other house to have something growing in their backyard.” 

“I want to educate the children, the teens, because those are the ones that will encourage their parents to want to do better or even know that there’s better out there,” she continued. “So, my goal is just education and just really teaching, getting into schools, changing our food systems, and how our kids are fed. So yeah, that’s the goal.”

Photo Courtesy Julia’s Farm STL

There is little doubt to anyone who has ever heard Thompson speak about her passion that her goal will surely be met — and soon. 

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