When Good Seeds Go Bad

After 18 years in Midwestern suburbia (SUVs, plastic bags, fertilized lawns and microwaves), a jaded Brooke Elizabeth Salvaggio left Kansas City in search of “the meaning of life.”

She traveled throughout the U.S. and abroad in New Zealand, Peru, Southeast Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean. In order to sustain her travels, she worked on organic farms in exchange for room and board.

After years spent navigating oceans, fires, mountains, religions, mind-boggling flavors, faces and food, Salvaggio realized that the meaning of life had always been right under her feet, in the sacred soil of her homeland. She returned to Kansas City in 2007 to grow food for herself and others and started a small farm.

This was the beginning of Badseed Farm, a 2.5-acre “mini farm” in south Kansas City that flourished for four glorious years. In 2009, Badseed Farm fell prey to neighbors who attempted to shut down the farm by using the city’s antiquated zoning ordinances. After a yearlong battle, Kansas City passed an Urban Agriculture ordinance to protect urban farms. Still, Badseed Farm faced considerable opposition from neighbors.

Faced with this reality, Salvaggio and co-owner and husband Dan Heryer decided to “move up the food chain” with the purchase of raw land now known as Urbavore Urban Farm.

This 13.5-acre property sat vacant for over 60 years, under constant threat of development. The land was once envisioned to become a community college, then a middle school, and most recently subsidized housing. Narrowly escaping these many possibilities, the Urbavore acreage has finally met its fate … to feed!

Urbavore has been re-zoned from “residential” to “agricultural,” which makes farming in the city a delicious reality and a pioneering effort yet to be seen in most cities across the United States.

Today, Badseed is an ever-growing community of plants, animals and people, including Salvaggio’s beloved husband Heryer, who (along with the fruits and veggies) keeps her healthy, happy and full of vitality. This is where Urbavore comes in.

Badseed also offers classes to “live off the grid in the grid” through a series of “Urban Homesteading” courses focused on agrarian, traditional skills for self-sufficiency and personal fulfillment. Classes such as Planting Fruit Trees, Making Cheese, Urban Homesteading, How To Raise Backyard Chickens, Chicken Butchering and cooking classes are offered monthly. Check out the calendar at badseedkc.com for class dates.

Urbavore’s very own home is at 19th and McGee streets, inside Badseed, where a spread of produce is the centerpiece of a burgeoning urban farmers’ market that offers sustainably-grown vegetables, free-range eggs, wholesome breads, luscious spreads, artisan cheeses and all-natural meats. Badseed’s funky farmers’ market can be experienced on Fridays beginning at 4 p.m.

Make sure to visit Badseed soon (even in the winter) and ask for Farmer Brooke or Farmer Dan. They are always on hand to offer advice, answer questions and talk good food. Believe me, Farmer Brooke and Farmer Dan just don’t talk local … they are local!

For more information, visit badseedkc.com

photos: Brooke Vandever

Categories: Food
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