Ozark Outdoors

Groundbreaking Saturday for newest Springfield Community Garden

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A young 'Glean Team' harvests summer produce for Ozarks Food Harvest.

A young ‘Glean Team’ harvests summer produce for Ozarks Food Harvest.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Springfield Community Gardens (SCG) is celebrating the ground-breaking of Tom Watkins Community Farm-the first organic, educational community farm in Springfield.FoodDayWebHeader

In partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Springfield, the group will host a public ground-breaking ceremony at 9 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 24 at Tom Watkins Park, 1909 N. Park Avenue, in celebration of National Food Day.

As part of this educational garden space, SCG will launch its first High-Yield Farmer Training Program in early November. The project is funded by a $10,000 grant from the MTS Foundation, written in partnership with Ozarks Food Harvest.

Dan Bigbee of Fassnight Creek Farms will lead the program, and volunteers from the Tom Watkins Neighborhood and volunteer interns from Springfield Community Gardens will prepare the ground. The University of Missouri Greene County Extension Services will consult on the project.

Tom Watkins Community Farm will provide access to healthy, locally produced food for families in the neighborhood; demonstrate small-scale, sustainable agricultural practices that protect our environment, reconnect people with the land; and provide an educational space for Springfield Community Gardens to lead workshops.

In celebration of the event and Food Day, Farmers Gastropub will be serving locally-sourced, “I Eat Real” specials after the event, so come celebrate with us!

For more information or to register as a farmer apprentice, contact Springfield Community Gardens at (417) 414-7129 or visit online at springfieldcommunitygardens.org.

Ozarks Food Harvest volunteers have been harvesting fresh produce for community members in need this summer as a part of OFH’s new “Glean Team.”

“Our volunteers have been coordinating the garden at Glendale High School, while school’s out, and in exchange, we’re able to harvest hundreds of pounds of produce for our area food pantries,” explains Christy Claybaker, community engagement coordinator at Ozarks Food Harvest. “Because of our success there, we’ve started a Glean Team, so that more volunteers can help harvest produce from other area gardens that would like to get involved in our hunger-relief efforts.”

The Glean Team is a group of volunteers who rescue produce from community gardens, urban landscapes, farms and orchards that might have otherwise gone to waste. It’s a new partnership with Harvest On WheelsSpringfield Urban Agriculture Coalition and Springfield Community Gardens.

Fassnight Creek Farm allowed Ozarks Food Harvest volunteers to glean its fields three times so far this summer.

The Victory Garden managed by the Second Baptist Church heard about the Glean Team and invited volunteers out to harvest 2,016 pounds of corn on August 6.

Harvested produce goes to The Food Bank, which serves its network of 200 pantries and programs across 28 counties. The Food Bank distributes 15 million pounds of food annually and more than 20 percent is fresh produce—double the amount of produce distributed two years ago.



George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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