June 09, 2011

Dept. of Ag makes First Grow & Give Produce Donation for 2011

Over $500 of fresh vegetables harvested, donated from Growing Together Garden

The Missouri Department of Agriculture recently harvested its first donation of fresh produce through the "Grow & Give" initiative. The Department's Growing Together Garden yielded over $500 of lettuce, radishes and Napa cabbage this week, all of which was donated to a local food pantry.

Grow & Give is a joint effort between the Missouri Department of Agriculture's 10,000 Garden Challenge and Missouri's food banks and pantries to give more fresh produce to Missourians in need by providing growers easy access to the information and tools they need to give to others.

"One of our goals with the 10,000 Garden Challenge is to get fresh, wholesome, locally-grown produce into the hands of those who need it most, and I hope to see Missouri gardeners donate a portion of the produce from their plots to a food bank or pantry in their area," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "The response to the challenge to grow and register Missouri gardens has been terrific, and I look forward to seeing Missourians come together in their communities to help their neighbors in this way."

In May, Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler pledged to donate produce from the Department's garden in Jefferson City to the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri. This week's recipient, the Salvation Army - Center of Hope in Jefferson City, is a local affiliate of the regional organization.

"We are blessed with this donation. We are even finding hard-working families in need of assistance and with widespread natural disasters, the statewide network of food agencies is finding it more difficult to meet these local needs," said Deborah Goldman of the Salvation Army. "This produce will be enough to meet the vegetable needs for over 65 people during multiple meals in the agency's kitchen and shelter. It will also be used to send home with clients of the agency through the food pantry."

The "Grow & Give" initiative encourages Missouri gardeners to donate a portion of the produce from their plots to a food bank or pantry in their area. The 10,000 Garden Challenge is an initiative to register 10,000 Missouri gardens, of every size and type, to promote agriculture, gardening, health and nutrition. As an incentive, for every 1,000 gardens registered a drawing is held for a $500 gift certificate from Tractor Supply Company, and all registered gardeners can receive complimentary passes to the Missouri Botanical Garden and Powell Gardens.

Contact information for Missouri's regional food banks and pantries is available online at http://www.AgriMissouri.com for individuals interested in donating. The 10,000 Garden Challenge website also features a color-coded map of Missouri food banks and pantries, offering visitors a ‘one-click' connection to those resources for helping their fellow Missourians.

The Department of Agriculture has also raised nearly $20,000 for the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri and hundreds of pounds of nonperishable food items and personal care products in recent weeks to assist Missourians affected by disasters throughout the state.

For additional details or to get involved with the 10,000 Garden Challenge, visit http://www.AgriMissouri.com. More information about the Missouri Department of Agriculture and its programs is available online at http://www.mda.mo.gov.