Gardening is a well loved activity in the Ozarks, providing fresh vegetables for family, friends and local food banks.
For those just getting into gardening, or even for seasoned professionals, the University of Missouri Extension Program provides excellent gardening how-to information ranging from starting plants from seeds to harvesting and storing the fresh fruits and veggies. They also provide face-to-face classes for the public that are free or available at a minimal charge.
As the cost for groceries rises, many may find themselves considering planting their own gardens to supplement what they bring home from the supermarket. Master Gardeners of Springfield, a program offered by the University of Missouri Extension Program, can help. This group provides the public with classes about horticulture and gardening that are catered specifically for Springfield residents.
For those who do not have the space or time to garden, take the opportunity to instead visit a farmers' markets in the area. The Greater Springfield Farmers' Market has over 100 vendors from Greene and surrounding counties that provide locally grown food that is harvested by local farmers. Fresh, locally grown produce can be on your table within hours of being picked.
Once you begin harvesting those beautiful, home grown vegetables you'll also find that there are local organizations gladly accepting donations of your extra fresh vegetables. Ozarks Harvesting Hope partners with Ozarks Food Harvest and Master Gardeners of Greene County to provide fresh, donated vegetables to over 340 agency partners in the Ozarks. These partners include shelters, soup kitchens, senior centers, pantries and day cares in 29 surrounding counties. Gardeners outside the Springfield area can donate their vegetables to local food pantries.
The Kitchen also accepts donations of your fresh produce for use in the many services they provide to the Springfield community. The Kitchen provides meals for residents at the Missouri Hotel seven days a week, three times a day. They also run the Kitchen Food pantry, which provides grocery items for approximately 70 families and shares donations with other local charities and food pantries.
For even more information, the Springfield-Greene County Library has resources on the many aspects of gardening.