Hill Country Provides Produce
That harvest has increased every year since 1994, and with more federal money earmarked for Missouri's hill country, even more fresh produce will come from Amish and Mennonite communities. MU Extension Project Coordinator James Quinn says a new outreach program will target these local produce growers.
"When they have a telephone, it's much easier because then you can just call them up. When they don't have a telephone, then you have to drive up there and visit them," Quinn said. A $50,000 federal grant will fund workshops targeting Missouri's Mennonite and Amish farmers. Farmers will gain insight on fertilization practices, soil rotation and safe handling of pesticides. Using these new techniques will not go against the beliefs of these communities. The workshops will even come to them: no horse and buggy needed. Workshops are scheduled for 2008 and 2009 in Jamesport, Rich Hill, Lamar, and Fortuna, all near produce auction sites.
"A lot of people are under the misconception that the Amish and Mennonites grow organic produce. That isn't the case," said Mennonite farmer Norman Kilmer. Kilmer will bring his sweet potatoes to auction this fall, and with the workshops planned for next year, Kilmer knows better produce is headed our way.