Municipal Farm Restoration
About the Project
A partnership project between Heartland Conservation Alliance and the City of Kansas City, Missouri, will protect groundwater recharge areas, restore wetlands and riparian habitat at the Municipal Farm. The Farm project features ecological restoration, urban agriculture, community gardens and outdoor recreation. Using Natural Resources Restoration program funding administered through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (department), the project will permanently restore and protect 15 to 18 acres of groundwater recharge area, including shallow marsh and shrub-scrub wetland, bottomland hardwood forest and riparian corridor in the Blue River floodplain.
It will also be supported by key partners, including EPA’s Green Infrastructure initiative, the Middle Blue River Urban Waters Federal Partnership, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, as well as local partners such as the BoysGrow urban agriculture program.
History of Municipal Farm
The Municipal Farm site is a historic and environmental landmark in Kansas City. The site is home to a diverse array of waterways, wetlands, wooded areas, dramatic topography, and scattered development. The Municipal Farm is a 441-acre site owned by the City of Kansas City, Missouri. The property sits within the Eastwood Hills Neighborhood and is located at the intersection of many neighborhood and regional assets. The site’s special rural character creates a unique setting within its urban surroundings. The site is near several key regional features, including the Truman Sports Complex, Swope Park and the Kansas City Zoo.
In 1911, the city constructed a city jail and workhouse where prisoners grew crops on the Municipal Farm site. The program was viewed as rehabilitative, giving inmates valuable work skills. The farm operated from 1912 to the 1960s and provided fresh produce and crops for the region. In addition to the jail, the site also included a tuberculosis hospital, which opened Christmas Day 1915, and a city cemetery, which operated from 1907 to 1965. Since then, the Municipal Farm site has been home to a correctional facility; a Missouri National Guard facility; and, a Kansas City Police Department shooting range, bomb detonation area, canine training area and helicopter pad. There also has been a Kansas City Community Gardens site, a BoysGrow farm, LaFarge Cement Company site, public works engineering and storage facilities and a sewer pump station. The correctional facility and cement company are no longer operational on the farm. All historic buildings have been demolished, though the National Guard, Public Works and Water Services facilities remain.
The Municipal Farm site was recognized as a brownfield site, because of the potential presence of hazardous substances from more than a century of use. EPA and the City developed a Municipal Farm Sustainable Reuse Plan as part of a pilot project for an area-wide planning approach to addressing community brownfield challenges. This approach enhanced EPA’s core Brownfields Program by encouraging a continued, meaningful and locally driven planning process that resulted in strategies for brownfield site assessment, cleanup and redevelopment. It also created partnerships with underserved or economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, and with local, regional and state entities who promote sustainability.
One of those partnerships is with BoysGrow, a nonprofit organization that mentors Kansas City’s urban youth through agricultural entrepreneurship program at Municipal Farm. BoysGrow received $70,000 in Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) funds to make infrastructure improvements to the site they are currently leasing at Municipal Farm. The improvements included clearing the land for cover crop, adding a well for irrigation, adding fencing to the site and clearing a path for a walking trail. The partnership between the City and BoysGrow has allowed for many opportunities to study and improve the BoysGrow site. Over $100,000 in National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grants have assisted with these efforts.
In January 2015, the department recovered Natural Resource Damages (NRD) from the bankruptcy and related litigation involving Tronox, LLC and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, who owned wood-treatment plants in Missouri (Kerr-McGee). The industrial wood treatment process, which used a chemical compound called creosote, was the primary contamination source at the plants.
After recovering the damages, the department created the Missouri Statewide Groundwater Restoration Plan, which prioritizes the restoration and preservation of the state’s groundwater resources to compensate the public for natural resource injuries caused by releases of contaminants. Under this plan, the department awarded funds to the City of Kansas City for the Municipal Farm project, which rehabilitates and restores local groundwater resources. For this project, the department committed $500,000 in Tronox/Anadarko settlement funds to the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.
Natural Resources Damage
Natural Resources Damages Under both state and federal law, the State of Missouri acts on behalf of Missouri citizens as trustee for natural resources. Because the Governor designated the department director to act on behalf of the State, the department has the authority to recover monetary or other damages from parties responsible for injuries to natural resources resulting from the unlawful release of hazardous substances and/or pollutants, collectively known as contaminants.
How To Use the Mapping Tool
The mapping tool has ten layers of information and shows where high scoring vacant parcels exist.
You can choose to view the following information:
Watershed and floodplain boundaries
Regional trails and bikeways
Reported sites of illegal dumping
Renew the Blue projects and partners
Action Plan Areas
Land Bank Lots (City-owned, for sale)
Vacant adjacent lots larger than .7 acres
Vacant lots with overland water flow
For a description of how to step through the layers of information and what the scores mean, download the guide here and see the instructional videos below.
Real Life Examples of Using the Map
"Our neighborhood has a lot of dumping."
"My neighbors and I would like to grow healthy food. Where can we start a garden and what does it take to have a successful community garden?"
"I’m looking at a lot near my home and I want to know what I can do with it."
The following are three short videos showing how to use the mapping tool:
Please be in touch to let us know how we can help you take the next steps to transforming vacant lots in your community to vibrant spaces full of life and beauty.
Contact Jill Erickson
jill [at] heartlandconservationalliance.org