Bayer, Let’s Grow Together
By Lindsey Stokes, Senior Manager, Executive Communications, Crop Science, Bayer U.S.
St. Louis is no stranger to food trends. Urban legend claims the hot dog, ice cream cone, and iced tea were introduced at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Another hotly debated, local food is “St. Louis-style” pizza which features extra-thin crust typically cut into squares and smothered with provel cheese, a trademarked cheese blend that is virtually unavailable outside of the region. A prominent local actor once said St. Louis-style pizza tastes like “the Gateway Arch” and “11 World Series Victories.” A little more off the beaten path and only to be found in local Chinese eateries is the St. Paul Sandwich — a crispy-brown fried egg foo yong patty between two slices of white bread with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes and dill pickles. To most, St. Louis is probably more “fly over country” than culinary powerhouse but St. Louisans are definitely loud and proud about their local delicacies.
And now we can add home of the first living billboard to the list of quirky food facts about St. Louis. This summer, Bayer sponsored two living billboards featuring the iconic St. Louis Arch standing in front of the downtown skyline. The arches were actually small vertical farms that grew leafy collards, kale and chard. A bit gimmicky? Yes, but so is cutting your pizza into squares.
Gimmicky or not, St. Louisans put their money where their mouth is — St. Louis was named the third most charitable city in the country (down one spot from #2) in 2017. This is why what matters more than a neat billboard is that Bayer, the new Fortune 500 in town, harvested and donated the billboard crops to the St. Louis Area Foodbank. Bayer also supplemented the billboard donation with apples, sweet corn and other vegetables. As a new Bayer employee, I was proud to volunteer with my colleagues at the St. Louis Area Foodbank headquarters to unload and sort the donated food.
St. Louis has lost several Fortune 1000 headquarters over the past 10 years, and once the Bayer acquisition was announced, I knew many neighbors and friends involved in the community were excited and curious to see how the household name would engage our city. I met and interacted with my new Bayer colleagues and learned more about their commitment to the area. But more importantly, I experienced it by packing and hauling nearly 25,000 pounds of fresh produce from the billboards and additional donations. There was a general sense of excitement that day that comes from something new; you could feel it as people introduced themselves and began packing and moving boxes of produce. It was a nod to our past and a peek into our future: Bayer employees working side by side to serve the St. Louis community we call home.