June 30, 2011

Dept. of Agriculture Names 2011 Farmers' Market Champions

Couple from Strafford, Mo. recognized with joint award

The Missouri Department of Agriculture recently announced Larry and Josephine Dowell as 2011 Champions of the Year for their work to promote gardening, locally-grown foods and farmers' markets. The Dowell's were recognized last night at the Fair Grove Farmers' Market, where they are members.

The Champion of the Year award, sponsored by AgriMissouri and the Missouri Farmers' Market Association, recognizes the contributions individuals make to Missouri's farmers' markets, to their communities, to Missouri farmers and the efforts of those individuals to share their passion with others.

"We are proud of the great contributions the Dowell's have made toward teaching youth in their community the importance of growing fresh fruits and vegetables," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "The Dowell's commitment to sharing their love of gardening with others is inspiring and their recognition as 2011 Champions of the Year is well deserved."

Larry and Josephine Dowell have been fixtures at the Fair Grove Farmers' Market for the last seven years. Larry, a retired doctor, and Josephine, a retired nurse, donate their time each week to the 345-member Fair Grove Farmers' Market Growing with Kids club.

The Dowell's also distribute plants, seeds and advice to novice gardeners. They are both master gardeners through the University of Missouri Cooperative Extension Service's Master Gardener program and donate far more time to the markets' youth than the program's required 30 hours of community service.

One of the young people influenced by Larry and Josephine Dowell was at the market Wednesday evening, both for the Dowell's recognition and to sell produce of her own. Cloe Gertner, a seven-year-old member of the Growing with Kids club, sells fresh basil she has grown with advice and encouragement from the Dowell's at the farmers' market.

State Representative Shane Schoeller also visited the market Wednesday evening, where he presented the Dowell's with a House Resolution recognizing their achievement.

For more information about AgriMissouri, visit http://www.AgriMissouri.com.