Confluence Farms, St. Louis County, Missouri

  • Location: Unincorporated St. Louis County, Missouri, USA.
  • Site: Historic farmland and forest, 240 acres.
  • Status: Initiated Winter 2019, ongoing.
  • Scope: Full property site assessment and design for ecosystem restoration and regenerative agriculture.

Straddling the bluffs high above the Missouri River, Confluence Farms sits just upstream of where the great Missouri and Mississippi Rivers converge. Forested from the blufftops down to the river, with sloping croplands draining in the opposite direction, the property is a diverse mixture of relatively healthy wildlands and intensively used and degrading human spaces. The farm is the largest of its size in an otherwise suburbanized landscape. Comprised of deep loess soil that wind deposited on the river bluffs over many hundreds of years, the depth and productive capacity of the soils makes for some of the finest agricultural land anywhere on earth. Combine the fine soils with the steep topography of the land and the primary challenge of the property is apparent—protecting the fine, easily erodible soils from washing away. With such fine soils, decades of heavy tillage for monoculture corn and soy significantly eroded the land into rills and gullies throughout the property. To abate this, the evident solution is to cease the conventional agricultural methods while intentionally re-vegetating and healing the gullies. Longer term, the appropriate combination of land use practices must take over to rebuild the ecological health of the land. A thorough site assessment has uncovered options for what those practices might look like and suggests structural changes to the landscape that will set the stage for regeneration.

Real Earth Design continues to be intensively engaged on this project. We are currently furthering detailed site assessment, developing agroforestry and silvopasture plans, as well as watershed restoration. We have completed design work and commenced build out of a 7-acre parcel that is now serving as a cooperative market farming enterprise.