Greene County garden spot before and after.Source: The NACD eResource

In 2016, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) and the Natrual Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) selected the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in Missouri as one of the recipients of the inaugural Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative. Through this award, Greene County SWCD provided funds to the Springfield Community Gardens (SCG) to create a working urban market garden in Springfield’s under-resourced Zone 1 district. Within six months, community members, students and partners helped create a green, food-filled oasis in the middle of the Grant Beach neighborhood.

The garden acts as a center of educational opportunities, technical assistance and sustainable production located at a former elementary school turned community center. Using help from over 286 volunteers giving over 830 hours of service, the space now has 34 in-ground beds in production, totaling approximately 3,725 square feet of bed space.

SCG also uses the space to serve the community, hosting free educational workshops on gardening and conservation topics for approximately 270 community members. SCG has provided technical assistance and resources to a network of 23 community gardens, as well as school gardens and neighbors.

Produce grown at the SCG Market Garden has several outlets, including the weekly C-Street City Market, also located in Zone 1. The weekly contact with market patrons allows connection with even more people about ways to get involved with SCG through gardens, education or events. Produce is also sold to area restaurants, neighbors and others, and is donated to community dinners, local food distributions and volunteers.

The SCG Market Garden has been a successful and valuable addition to a neighborhood being revitalized through grassroots efforts focusing on food, wellness, access to resources and community building. Learn more about the other 2016 NACD Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant award recipient projects.