Over 10,000 Missourians joined in the effort to get gardens growing throughout the state this year. This morning, Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler announced the milestone alongside the Department’s partners in the 10,000 Garden Challenge.
The 10,000th garden was registered this fall, fulfilling the goal of registering 10,000 gardens throughout the state this year. The gardens registered represent more than 3.6 million square feet, nearly 85 acres of fruits, vegetables, ornamentals and native plants.
“Registering 10,000 gardens is a great milestone for our state and an outstanding opportunity for all Missourians to share what they have learned working in the garden, sharing with their neighbors and getting to know others in their communities,” said Dr. Hagler. “The 10,000 Garden Challenge was a great way to connect people to the land, to their churches, schools, communities and their own backyards. This challenge highlights our ability to produce our food and the importance of those who do it, and we thank Gov. Nixon and First Lady Nixon for their continued support.”
“Our gardeners and all of agriculture have shown great generosity this year, donating hundreds of thousands of pounds of produce to food banks, pantries and charitable organizations, making fresh, local produce available to those who might not otherwise have it to enjoy,” said Dr. Hagler.
The Department kicked off the food drive with a donation this morning, including non-perishable items and a cash donation of over $1,000, benefitting food banks across the state. The Department of Agriculture has also challenged other state agencies and the agriculture community to follow in making the choice to give back to those in need.
Through the Harvest for Hunger Food Drive, the Department is accepting donations at their offices in Jefferson City and encouraging all Missourians to donate both fresh and nonperishable food items. The Harvest for Hunger Food Drive will continue through the winter months, concluding in March. All donations and proceeds will go to the Missouri Food Bank Association and be distributed statewide to food banks.
Registering the 10,000th garden also allowed the Department to award a gift certificate to Tractor Supply Company to another lucky gardener. Sandy Perley of Columbia, garden entry number 9,277, was selected randomly and received the tenth $500 gift card to Tractor Supply Company. Perley is a master gardener who volunteers with the Heart of Missouri Master Gardeners at a demonstration garden in Columbia. At the ceremony today, the Heart of Missouri Master Gardeners accepted the gift card, on Sandy’s behalf, to put toward their gardening efforts.
Throughout the garden challenge, participants continuously showed a spirit of giving, donating produce to local food banks, pantries and other charitable organizations as well as to neighbors, friends and family. In carrying on their tradition and as a part of closing out this year’s garden challenge, the Department launched the winter Harvest for Hunger Food Drive today.