January 12, 2012

St. Louis Public Library and Local Gardeners Receive $2,500 Grant

Missouri Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler presented the St. Louis Public Library and the Walnut Park Community Garden Club a $2,500 grant yesterday to continue their work to develop a community garden in North St. Louis City. The grant will support the construction of a community garden and fund educational programs for youth and adults in St. Louis' 27th ward.

The staff from the library's Walnut Park branch and volunteer gardeners from the Walnut Park Community Garden Club plan to cultivate an active garden that produces fresh fruits and vegetables for those in need within the community and develop educational programs that teach all ages to grow their own food.

"Through grant programs like this one, we are able to connect resources to those ready to make a difference in their communities," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "The St. Louis Public Library and the Walnut Park Community Garden Club have put together an outstanding plan for the neighborhoods they serve and we hope these funds help them promote agriculture through community gardening, fresh produce and teaching their friends and neighbors how the fresh produce they are able to enjoy is grown."

Construction and planning of the community garden is expected to begin in March, with educational programs beginning in May. Harvest should occur between August and November. The group plans to build youth education programs around the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines for nutrition/food energy and physical activity throughout the growing and harvest season.

The project is expected to reach as many as 4,000 households in the Walnut Park East, North Point, Baden and Walnut Park West neighborhoods. The majority of households in those neighborhoods live at or below the poverty level, with 30 percent of households making less than $15,000 per year according to the 2010 census.

Local Foods Grants are supported by Missouri's Agriculture Protection Fund and available to organizations working to increase underserved populations' access to fresh foods. This is the first year for the program. The grant funds may be used for the creation of a farmers' market, the expansion of an urban or community garden, to promote local food efforts and/or youth initiatives that combat hunger, poor nutrition and obesity in collaboration with community gardens or farmers' markets.

To learn more about the Missouri Department of Agriculture and its programs, visit the Department online at http://www.mda.mo.gov.