Good Life Growing started as a simple idea – building a single aquaponics system for sustainable agriculture. Now, they have three North St. Louis locations, supply several area restaurants, donation centers, and markets, a jobs program, and are about to open a sustainable grocery – Old North Provisions.
It was founded by four friends, brothers James and Bobby Forbes, James Hillis, and Matt Stoyanov.
Good Life Growing is a social enterprise focused on combating urban decay and food insecurity by way of urban agriculture,” says James Forbes, Co-Founder and CEO.
They use a number of sustainable growing techniques including hydroponics or aquaponics.
Also known as a closed loop-system, it allows growers to continually recycle the same water with the help from fish. The water Forbes plants don’t suck up is collected back into big fish tanks at the end of the growing bed – after the plants purify the water from everything toxic to the fish. The fish’s restroom waste then makes the water rich in nutrients the plants need (allowing good life growing to avoid all synthetic fertilizers) and it’s pumped back up to the plants in a symbiotic loop.
This saves money for Good Life Growing and is beneficial to the environment. They’re beneficial to the health of their residents too – the citizens of North St. Louis. They keep their grow sites open to everyone, teach volunteers about sustainable agriculture, and they serve as a jobs program by taking on paid apprentices who work with them to learn the trade and gain a U.S. Department of Labor certification of a grow trainee. This allows them to take advantage of entry-level jobs in our growing ag and ag-tech sector.
The produce and micro-greens Good Life Growing produces goes to a number of different places: some of it is sold to area restaurants, they donate a large portion of it, and they provide produce for pop-up stands in North St. Louis.
In addition to earning a 2018 Arch Grant, Good Life Growing also won further validation by winning the Old North Storefront Competition. Through that win, they’ll be opening up a sustainable grocery catty-corner to Crown Candy Kitchen in late June or July. In addition to selling sustainable agricultural products and some staples, they’ll also be serving ready to go, healthy food options from Kitchen Kulture and Honey and Thyme.
And if that isn’t enough – they are in construction on a second indoor, year-round growing space that will be located near the riverfront on Lumiere Place Blvd. The GreenCubator, as they call it will provide year-round space for more agriculture production, classes and distribution of their products.
Learn more about the work the ways they’ve built a business by investing in the community and fresh, healthy produce.