About Us

OUR STORY

Richard Reilly (Left) and Dan Koster (Right) holding the trophy.

The Sunflower+ Project: STL is one of 4 winners of the St. Louis Sustainable Land Lab Design Competition. We plant sunflowers to create urban biodiversity projects on vacant, urban land. The site work began on May 7, 2013 in Old North.

When Richard Reilly and Dan Koster heard about the St. Louis Sustainable Land Lab Design Competition, they knew they wanted to become involved. After working with issues of urban vacancy over the years. they put together the idea to plant sunflowers, along with historic reference and placemaking, in vacant lots, the Sunflower+ Project was created. The two, along with their team, created a proposal in which they envisioned how their idea could become a reality.

The original proposal plan submitted to the design competition.

Sustainable Land Lab: From Vacant to Vital – The Sunflower+ Project: STL

Over the past several years, the project’s goal and purpose has continuously evolved. The original hope was that the sunflowers would help remediate the soil, however, after deeper research, it is clear that the projects sites have not been contaminated in the past and that sunflowers do not actually remove toxins from the soil. With this knowledge, the focus of the project has shifted. The project promotes many things, including: an outdoor classroom, biodiversity, beautification, lower carbon footprint land maintenance, and pollinators as a temporary infill until the sites are ripe for redevelopment.

NineLAB | UMSL Beyond the Building with Richard Reilly

Before photograph in Old North
After photograph of the Old North lot.

The Sunflower+ Project: STL Today

Today, the project exists as an example of low-cost asset creation in communities with vacancy issues reconceived as asset rather than liability. With continued community engagement success and awareness that the flowers will grow with limited input into the soil, the plots still continue to thrive and add beauty to the neighborhoods in which they’re situated. There have other Sunflower+ partner projects on Delmar and in Dutchtown. There are now sunflowers planted on Union Avenue in association with The Sweet Potato Project and on a lot near Ames VPA School in Old North. The 2017 planting of sunflowers took place on May 13th! Visit our Contact Us page to see how YOU can get involved!