The Sustainable Backyard Tour began as a simple 6-yard tour of chicken coops in 2010. Response to that simple open-yard Sunday was overwhelming. So great was the interest, that the owners of two independent retailers-a green general store called Home Eco and Isabee’s Beekeeping Supplies Co.–worked together to create the First Annual Sustainable Backyard Tour in 2011. The first tour featured 30 private residential yards throughout the city and county that showcased a variety of elements, from organic vegetable gardening to goat keeping! In 2012, with the help of volunteers, the tour expanded to include 54 stops and some 1300 registered guests. The tour has received great support from the community and the public every year since!
Lead organizer Terry Winkelmann, instigator of that original chicken tour, expanded the learning opportunities from a one-day tour to a variety of programs and classes in the ensuing years. After her store, Home Eco, closed in 2013, Terry and a handful of dedicated volunteers continued to produce the Sustainable Backyard Tour.
The tour has always been free to all, but the organizing of it is not cost-free. For the first 7 years, the main costs of the tour were covered by local businesses like Kakao Chocolate and Greenscape Gardens and non-profit partners like Slow Food St. Louis and the William A. Kerr Foundation, as well as others.
In 2018, we registered The Sustainable Backyard Network as a non-profit to ensure a future for this grassroots voice of sustainability and resilient community building. With the community’s help, we plan to increase the educational benefits of the organization year ‘round with ongoing classes, new programs and fun events like our August 2018 Shindig!
We invite you to join our mailing list, send us your thoughts, volunteer, host, follow us on social media and get involved! And of course, don’t miss next year’s Sustainable Backyard Tour—Sunday, June 9, 2019.