Wednesday, July 15, 2009

MDA Growing Together Community Garden

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

View a slideshow of photos from the event here.

(PHOTO: First Lady Georganne Wheeler Nixon and Missouri Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler pictured above.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Department of Agriculture Offers Specialty Crop Growers Funds

The Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) is seeking grant applications from organizations or groups of individuals interested in enhancing the competitiveness of the state's specialty crop industry. Grant applications are due on July 31, 2009.

Applications will be considered on a competitive basis. Selected applications will be included in the Missouri specialty crop state plan and reviewed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and nursery crops, including floriculture. Some examples of enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops are research, promotion, marketing, nutrition, food safety and security, plant health, education, "buy local" programs, addressing environmental concerns and developing cooperatives.

In 2009, 15 projects were awarded. Those projects varied from promoting farmers’ markets statewide, to establishing local community gardens and after school-garden clubs, to researching the performance of seedless watermelons and establishing a voluntary online registry to help producers of pesticide-sensitive crops alert applicators to the crop’s location.

An application packet and program details for the specialty crop grant are available at or by contacting Tony Anderson at (573) 751-2969.

Greater Polk County Farmers' Market in Bolivar.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Missouri State Fair Farmers' Market

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is looking to source local fresh products throughout the Missouri State Fair, August 13-23, at the on-site farmers’ market stand in the Agriculture Building.

We are beginning to place orders with producers for products such as tomatoes (all varieties), melons cucumbers, peppers, onions, sweet corn, potatoes, herbs, squash, zucchini, berries, green beans and much more!

Besides produce, the market will feature meat and eggs as well. If you are interested in featuring your product at the Missouri State Fair Farmers’ Market please contact Tony Anderson, MDA Marketing Specialist at 573-751-2969 or via email at

All products will be displayed with the producer/farm name, contact info and website. The MDA also provides a complete brochure listing to consumers of the locally sourced products at the fair and how to buy local in Missouri.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Missouri’s first organic wine is grown and produced in Gasconade County

When Dr. Tim Ley and his wife Dr. Patricia Hohn decided to establish a vineyard, they knew they wanted to produce a crop that would not only be safe to consume, but that would also be gentle to the land.

“I did not want to pour chemicals on my land. I did not want to leave something that others would have to clean up,” Ley explained.

After being told repeatedly that grapes couldn’t be grown in this state without at least fungicides, they found some experts at Penn State who believed it was possible. Three years ago, they planted 2,000 vines on four acres on their farm in southern Gasconade County on Highway 19. Thus, Gascony Vineyards was established.

Read the full story here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cost Share Funding for Certified Organic Producers

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is helping to provide cost-share monies to Missouri producers. The cost-share program provides assistance for qualified organic producers in the areas of crop, wild crop or livestock and handlers of agricultural products who obtain certification under USDA’s National Organic Program.

This program will allow MDA to reimburse each eligible producer up to 75% of their certification costs, not exceeding $750. Since funds are limited, MDA will process applications in the order received until all funds are consumed.

For organic producers to qualify, applicants will be required to complete a signed application and supply a copy of their organic certificates, with an invoice documenting their cost of certification.

To obtain an application and complete guidelines, contact Bart Hawcroft at 573-526-6666 or

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

His Crop Runneth Over

A twelve year old in Cameron, Texas seems to be a model farmer the way he is raising and marketing organic produce from a one acre neighborhood plot. He began it as a summer job at his dad’s suggestion. The soil is too heavy for crops so the first thing they did was construct raised beds. He produced and marketed a variety of vegetables but found tomatoes sold best so will focus heavily on them this year. Last year his eight year old sister also tried her hand at raising herbs. Both sold their crops at a vegetable stand near their dad’s law office and to local restaurants. They did well enough they have plans to be back this year and the customers are already waiting for them.

Read the entire story here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Local Producer Loan Program

Natural and organic food retailer, Whole Foods Market, announced that its Local Producer Loan Program has provided producers, including grass-fed cattle ranchers and a heritage turkey grower, with $2.5 million in low-interest loans.

Whole Foods launched the program in 2007 with a commitment to fund up to $10 million in low-interest loans. Since then, nearly 50 loans ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 have been made. Loan recipients must meet Whole Foods' quality standards, use the funds for expansion and have a viable business plan. The company continues to accept applications.

Read more online.