Bloomsday: The Sunflower+ Project: STL

This summer welcomes the sixth consecutive season of blooming sunflowers to the corner of Warren and 14th Streets in Old North St. Louis, a plot of land that until not long ago was nothing more than a weedy, vacant lot. Today the site not only offers a stunning seasonal display, but also a striking example of the transformative potential of sustainable development.


Saturday, July 21
A family friendly celebration of summer flowering at the Sunflower+ Project site.
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This transformation was made possible by the Sunflower+ Project: STL, a collaboration between the Missouri Botanical Garden’s EarthWays Center and Washington University created as part of the University’s Sustainable Land Lab Design Competition in 2012. Founded by the EarthWays Center’s Richard Reilly and Washington University’s Don Koster, the project was one of five winning entries from a group of 50 proposals charged with reimagining vacant urban land from liabilities to assets.

“The inspiration behind the project rests on the notion that most vacant, urban land should be redeveloped with the kinds of homes and businesses that once made these neighborhoods thriving places,” says cofounder Reilly. “We need not add to the sprawl afflicting our region when we have land adjacent to infrastructure ready to go now.” To that end, the Sunflower+ Project is conceived as an interim land use providing various opportunities and functions to a neighborhood in transition: a neighborhood gathering spot, an outdoor classroom, a biodiversity initiative, a pollinator hub, and a community engagement project. 

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In the winter months the Sunflower+ Project partners with St. Louis Public Schools (Ames VPA and Mason Elementary) to produce ‘sustainability flags’ which provide lessons in vacancy, sustainability, culture, and painting. The product is installed at the Old North Sunflower+ site to bring color to the site during the season.


The Sunflower+ Project is just one example of the EarthWays Center’s portfolio of innovative sustainability and education initiatives that provide stimulating opportunities for everyday learning and encourage the St. Louis community to experience biodiversity firsthand. Learn more at


Create your own sunflower+ project in five easy steps:

1. Identify and acquire permission to use a vacant lot

2. Test the soil to insure it is not contaminated

3. Till the soil

4. Plant seeds

5. Keep lot clean, trim any grass/weed every 2 weeks



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