July 10, 2009

First Lady, Director of Agriculture Proclaim July as Local Foods Month and Presents the Department of Agriculture's Growing Together Garden

First Lady Georganne Wheeler Nixon tours the Department of Agriculture’s Growing Together Garden with Director Jon Hagler and Lane McConnell.

(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) - Today First Lady Georganne Wheeler Nixon and Missouri Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Growing Together Garden and proclaimed July as Local Foods Month. The community garden, located and maintained at the Department of Agriculture, is the first garden of its kinds on the grounds at the Agriculture Department and serves as a showcase of Missouri's agricultural products.

"Community gardens are popping up in many cities across the U.S. especially in urban areas. These gardens are a reminder of where our food comes from, improve neighborhoods and provide access to fresh produce for communities," said First Lady Nixon. "Community gardens develop teamwork, encourage healthy initiatives providing physical and social benefits to employees as well as aesthetically improve the grounds."

Produce from the garden was donated to the Samaritan Center in Jefferson City. Other picked produce has been given back to Department of Agriculture employees for a donation to the Department's Activities and Recreation Committee.

Community gardens provide health benefits as well as economic, social, cultural and educational opportunities. These gardens also promote environmental awareness and provide community education. Many community gardens sell their produce at local farmers' markets. The Growing Together Garden features tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, green beans, sweet corn, cucumbers, okra, pumpkins, raspberries, fruit trees and a wide variety of flowers and herbs including parsley, dill, oregano, chives, basil, sage and thyme.

"Our Growing Together Garden has given Department employees a chance to work together while also benefiting from fresh, local produce and giving back to our community," said Dr. Jon Hagler. "We thank First Lady Georganne Wheeler Nixon for her commitment to locally grown foods and agriculture."

During the ceremony, garden sponsors were recognized for their commitment to the garden including Morgan County Seeds, Forrest Keeling Nursery, Central Missouri Master Gardeners, Signature Homes, Lowell Mohler, Schnieders Brothers Excavating, Brian Fleischmann, Stark Bros Nursery, Foster Brothers and Schaeperkoetter Sales. Other event sponsors included Chez Monet Bakery Café and Kenny Anderson.

For more information regarding community gardens, farmers' markets or the Growing Together Garden, visit mda.mo.gov.