Community gardens hope to inspire others to \'go green\'

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COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia is challenging the public to live sustainably with the city's first Community Garden Walk.  Participants toured three different gardens and heard from community garden experts on how to get started, maintain sustainable food sources and participate in local sustainable food initiatives.

The city joined the Columbia Community Garden Coalition to encourage healthier living habits such as exercising, cultivating organic and sustainable food sources, and using environmentally friendly methods. The event touched on healthy living habits but focused on creating sustainable food sources and tackling hunger in Mid-Missouri.

The walk began at the Congregation Beth Shalom (CBS)/Newman Interfaith Garden, continued on Green Meadows road to Stormy's Meadow: Native Wildflower and storm water education site, and  concluded at Rockbridge Christian Church Garden. The event began with refreshments and small talk among event participants.  MU Agroforestry professor Mike Gold then kicked off the walk with a small speech about the importance of community gardens, sustainable food sources, and overall sustainable living.

"Columbia is not the worst when it comes to hunger, but we still want to help who we can," said MU agroforestry professor Mike Gold. "If we can inspire other areas or cities to do the same that helps the problem." 

Missouri ranked in the top 20 for food insecurity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013. The community gardens grow and maintain the food without the city's help. Most of the gardens are sponsored and operated by businesses, organizations, or churches, with the majority of the food donated to local food banks.

14-year-old Guillermo Hernandez also gave a speech about his commitment to Stormy's Meadow as the garden leader, and how he thinks volunteering and sustainable living are important for the community.

"All of this matters," said Hernandez. "Anyone can participate."

Hosts of the community garden hope that this event will encourage people to start their own garden, to volunteer and explore sustainable living options.