Folks may remember the news about a month ago when two lush and leafy St. Louis Arch display were erected onto two billboards. Dubbed “Living Billboards,” they were a first-of-its-kind concept put up by Bayer and adorned with actual crops that included kale, parsley, collards, and three varieties of chard — Swiss chard, white stemmed chard, and red stemmed chard. The message read, “St. Louis, let’s grow together.”
The billboards have now been harvested and the crops donated to the St. Louis Area Foodbank.
The billboards represented Bayer’s new presence in the St. Louis region following the acquisition of Monsanto Co. (The site of the former agriculture company is now the headquarters for Bayer’s Crop Science division.) The billboards were located on I-170 north and I-64 east , and each had its own irrigation system and was maintained by a horticulturist.
“The idea behind these billboards was about a year and a half in the making, and we were so excited to see them go up,” said Ray Kerins, Senior Vice President and Head of Corporate Affairs for Bayer. “But what we’re even more excited about is to see these crops provide many local families access to a variety of freshly grown greens. We’re proud to work with the St. Louis Area Foodbank on this effort, and we are especially proud to reiterate to St. Louis the message on these billboards: ‘Let’s Grow Together.’”
For many families, access to healthy nutritional meals can become a daily struggle. Feeding America, whose network includes the St. Louis Area Foodbank, estimates in parts of Missouri, one in three children face food insecurity on a regular basis; for adults, that number is one in five.
“Fresh produce is important for a well balanced diet. Unfortunately, such foods can be expensive for income challenged individuals who struggle with food insecurity, and based upon the communities where they reside, access may not be readily available,” said Lenora Gooden, Vice President of Product Sourcing for the St. Louis Area Foodbank. “We appreciate Bayer’s support of the St. Louis Area Foodbank. This donation of fresh greens and produce will help meet the needs of those we serve throughout the bi-state region.”
In addition to the billboard crops, Bayer is supplementing its donation to the foodbank with apples, sweet corn, watermelon, sweet potatoes, squash and tomatoes. Also, more than a dozen Bayer employees are volunteering to help unload and sort the donated food.