February 16, 2012

Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture Receives Grant to Support the Opportunity Garden Program

Missouri Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler today awarded the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture a $4,910 grant to continue their work to develop their Opportunity Garden Program, which was established in 2010 to assist low-income and disadvantaged people grow food at home. The grant will support the construction of 20 new raised beds in 10 gardens throughout the city and provide program participants with essential gardening equipment and training.

"Through the Local Foods Grant program, we are able to connect local organizations and individuals with the resources they need to make a difference for their communities just as the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture is doing through their Opportunity Garden Program," said Dr. Hagler.

The Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture will begin installing the 10 new gardens in early spring of 2012, and expects all to be ready for use by early summer 2012. Daniel Soetaert will lead the Opportunity Garden Program's efforts and will assist in providing opportunity gardens to low-income and disadvantaged populations in Boone County on a first-come, first-served basis. Since the program was established, the group has installed 20 gardens.

The Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to promote and work towards the establishment, development and maintenance of a functional, efficient and sustainable local food system.

This is the first year for the Local Foods Grants, which are supported by Missouri's Agriculture Protection Fund. 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.