COLUBMIA – The Columbia Parks and Recreation Commission held a meeting Thursday night to recommend approval of possible changes to Clary-Shy Community Park.
Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, Columbia Farmers Market, Sustainable Farms and Communities and Columbia Parks and Recreation Department formed a partnership called Friends of the Farm to collaborate on the capital improvement project.
The project would include adding a farmer’s market shelter and an agriculture park. According to the City of Columbia, Missouri website, the goal of the project is to create a destination for people to learn about sustainable food production, see agriculture in action, and buy local, fresh products.
The city website outlined the planned additions to the park, which would include 'a permanent Farmers Market structure, educational urban farm, demonstration gardens, an outdoor classroom, playground, walking trails and a building for Farmers Market and community events.'
Parks Services Manager, Gabe Huffington said the Parks and Recreation Department will be working with an undeveloped area of about 10 acres.
“We looked at a permanent farmer’s market structure, one that would take the elements of rain and snow out of place so that we can have a year-round market,” Huffington said. “We also looked at an urban farm. So we’d have an urban garden, orchards, an outdoor classroom, a playground, different amenities within that park.”
Ultimately, the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture would have the ability to demonstrate growing fresh food to local youth. Its headquarters would eventually be relocated to the new agriculture park. CCUA would give all the produce it grows in the agriculture park to The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, providing more fresh foods for central Missourians.
Executive Director at the food bank Lindsay Young Lopez said CCUA has been a great partner with the food bank in the past.
“The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri has a longstanding partnership with the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture. We really appreciate everything that they do to try to get fresh produce into the hands of the people we are serving,” Lopez said. “They understand, like we do, that we don’t just want to share food with people who are in need. We want to try to share healthy, nutritious food that can truly have a positive impact overall on peoples’ lives.”
The project will be complete in two phases. The first phase is estimated to cost $1,200,000. Some of the funding, $400,000, will come from the 2015 Park Sales Tax. The rest of the funding will be provided by grants and donations.
Columbia City Council will hold a public hearing for the project on Nov. 6 to appropriate funds for the project and approve the first phase before construction can begin.