Ozarks Natural Foods donates use of land to newly relaunched Full Circle Gardens
Glean Team volunteer initiative kicking off 2015 growing season next week
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— Ozarks Food Harvest’s Glean Team is getting a fresh start this spring, kicking off the 2015 growing season at Ozarks Natural Foods next Tuesday, March 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The farm operation, located east of Springfield, is donating the use of its high tunnel and raised beds for production of fresh produce to benefit Ozarks Food Harvest and the regional food bank’s network of 200 charity partners.
“Ozarks Natural Foods will be the “home base” for the Glean Team this season, but our volunteers will also continue gleaning, or harvesting, at partner farms and gardens such as Fassnight Creek Farm and the Fruit and Veggie Project Garden,” said Christy Claybaker, who is managing the relaunched Full Circle Gardens program at Ozarks Food Harvest. “We’re grateful for all the collaboration and especially excited to ultimately increase the amount of healthy food options for our neighbors in need.”
Ozarks Natural Foods is offering The Food Bank 76 of its 4-by-16-foot irrigated raised beds and a 30-by-90-foot high tunnel. OFH will allocate a third of the high tunnel to its partner, Springfield Community Gardens, to grow starts for their neighborhood gardens.
OFH established its Full Circle Garden program in 1999, primarily harvesting a single community garden — located next to its former warehouse. Today, The Food Bank partners with numerous farmers and growers to make an impact on the community’s food system — and on hunger and health.
The program, now plural, rescues fresh produce for those in need by harvesting donors’ fields and gardens via its volunteer Glean Team — one initiative of the Full Circle Gardens program. A second initiative brings loads of produce that was donated to The Food Bank to established community gardens. The additional produce helps supplement those clients’ harvests. Financial support is the other initiative which aims to support OFH partners through pass-through grants, research and reporting. OFH already provides industrial-sized coolers to help pantries store more healthy food.
The first Glean Team volunteers of the 2015 season will be more than 30 Future Farmers of America (FFA) members from Walnut Grove. The group will help OFH clean the raised beds at Ozarks Natural Foods’ farm next Tuesday. Food Bank officials hope to begin planting the first cold weather crops — such as lettuce, spinach, kale, chard and cabbage — and say Ozark Organic Supply has committed to donate organic fertilizer and pest control to the project.
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Ozarks Food Harvest is the Feeding America food bank for southwest Missouri, serving 200 organizations across 28 Ozarks counties. The Food Bank distributes 13 million meals annually to 260,000 unduplicated individuals. Learn more at ozarksfoodharvest.org, facebook.com/ozarksfoodharvest or twitter.com/ozksfoodharvest.