February 25, 2013

St. Louis Organizations Receive Grants to Support Local Foods

Missouri Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler today announced grants for four St. Louis-area organizations totaling nearly $19,000. The grants, from the Missouri Department of Agriculture's Local Foods Matching Grant program, support the organizations' efforts to bring more local produce and gardening opportunities to area families. Gateway Greening, Green's Country Store, Northside Youth and Senior Services Center and Our City Farm each received grants.

"Through the Local Foods Matching Grant Program, we are able to connect local organizations and individuals to the resources they need to make a difference for their communities," Dr. Hagler said. "Just as these outstanding groups are supporting their neighbors, it is important that we help them make the most of the resources available among their members, within their communities and in our state."

Grant funds may be used for a number of efforts to support and promote local foods, including for the creation of a farmers' market or the expansion of an urban or community garden. Grant funds may also be used to promote youth initiatives that combat hunger, poor nutrition and obesity in collaboration with community gardens or farmers' markets. This year's recipients in the St. Louis area were awarded nearly $19,000 in grants. They are as follows:

Gateway Greening plans to develop and teach an eight-week class called Growing Gardeners with the grant they received. The class will include instruction on increasing food production, promoting community gardens and teaching others to grow vegetables and develop community gardens.

Green's Country Store plans to expand services to farmers in their community by purchasing a cooler and freezer to store locally grown foods. The appliances will provide an outlet for local farmers to sell their local fruits, vegetables, eggs and other products.

Northside Youth and Senior Services Center and Sweet Sensation will use their grant to create a beekeeping operation for underserved teenagers. Local youth will design and operate an urban apiary that will produce a full line of beeswax and honey products. Teens will help develop a business model, including caring for the bees, maintenance, product development and marketing.

Our City Farm will use a Local Foods Matching Grant to bring water service to the farm facility, and provide free workshops for individuals living in nearby neighborhoods on growing fresh produce in small spaces and healthy eating, as well as canning and preserving food.

This is the second year for the Local Foods Matching Grants program. Grant recipients may receive up to $5,000, and must provide a 50 percent match to the grant funds. The match may include cash, as well as labor, equipment and other in-kind contributions. A total of eight grants were awarded. Other recipients include Kansas City Community Gardens and Metro Lutheran Ministry in the Kansas City area and Ozarks Regional YMCA and Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition in the Springfield area.

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