The Ozark County Homegrown Food Project has been selected to participate in a federal initiative that promotes healthy eating and child wellness.
The initiative, called Local Foods, Local Places, selected 27 rural community projects across the country, with the purpose of helping local farmers and businesses create and improve access to smarter health options. Local efforts for the initiative will take place in Gainesville.
“Gainesville was selected because of their strong emphasis to creating a community garden, opening a community kitchen and food shop to make purchasing fresh food more convenient for the county and the local residents of the Gainesville, Missouri area,” Kris Lancaster, Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson, said. “Local Foods, Local Places focuses on rural communities to allow small producers to create value added goods for local sale. The community garden will help empower people to grow food and get outdoors, focusing on children and the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables locally.”
The EPA worked with five other federal agencies to select the 27 communities, which were chosen from over 300 applicants across the nation. These agencies will also provide the funding, which will come in the form of technical assistance.
“Each community works with a team of urban planning experts that will help the community members recognize local assets and set goals for the project, develop a plan and identify targeted resources from these agencies to help implement those plans,” Lancaster said.
Amelia Lamair, a board member for Ozark County Homegrown Food Project, said that currently its main focus is Fork, Farm and Fiddle, a place where volunteers can go to serve meals, conduct various workshops, offer music lessons and other activities.
“We just had an open house this past Saturday,” Lamair said. “We had 200-300 people come in and check it out, which was a great turnout. We hope to have our official actual opening sometime next month.”
Lamair said she thinks that participating in the Local Foods, Local Places initiative will spark interest from other communities and encourage outreach from them.
“I think we will definitely have interest from other communities wanting to do similar projects,” Lamair said. “We haven’t had any outreach from them yet, but the selections were just announced on Monday.”