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Sometimes you have to look for stories, other times they just find you. That’s true in life generally, but it’s especially true in journalism. And Brian DeSmet, no stranger to creating interest in green and sustainability issues around St. Louis, is well aware of the power of a good, visual story.
Late last week, DeSmet stopped by The Royale for lunch, between stops to the Earthways Center and some SLU summer camps. He was traveling in style, driving the Truck Farm, St. Louis’ one and only farm in the back of a... well, truck. It’s something that’s caught on around the country, and it’s easy to see why activists would gravitate towards this idea.
As DeSmet says in the video below, he adapted the idea from other, established truck farms around the country, whose creators have done something similar to DeSmet’s own project. In his case, it was securing some sponsorship along with an old truck, drilling in eight drainage holes, then adding various layers of draining materials, compost, soil, and, ultimately, plants. Today, he’s driving around town with over a half-dozen different kinds of produce growing in the soil of his pick-up, including common backyard plants like tomatoes and oregano and more interesting choices, like musk melon and radishes.
While it’s hard to argue that any one element of his truck’s bed is more impressive than the next, it has to be said that the tomatoes, which grow just behind the cab, might have the biggest visual pop, simply because they’re the largest pieces of the puzzle, swaying in the breeze as the truck rolls down the road. The rest fill in nicely, with DeSmet taking time to put all his ingredients in common-sense rows, combining both the inherent, whimsical nature of his project with good planting practices.
Over the years, DeSmet’s held a couple of environmentally themed jobs. He’s currently working as the market master of the well-regarded Tower Grove Farmer’s Market, in addition to regularly contributing to other markets in town. It’s at those locations that you’re most likely to find the Truck Farm, but you might also just happen across it, as we did.
In the accompanying video, we rolled “tape” and let DeSmet take it from there. Bystanders included Steven Smith of The Royale and imp-about-town Haji Haji, whose constant declarations of “awesome” sum up the Truck Farm’s potential.
(Notable, too, is the arrival of a documentary called Truck Farm, which details the background of this project nationally. Compliments of DeSmet’s efforts, the film will play in St. Louis at the Schlafly Bottleworks on Wednesday, August 24 at 7:30 p.m. In addition to the 50-minute film, there’ll be a Skype-based conversation with director Ian Cheney. You can see clips and a trailer at www.truck-farm.com. You can also follow Truck Farm - St. Louis on Facebook for additional information and see where it’s located for markets and other events. Simply search Facebook for Truck Farm - St. Louis.)