Thanks to the efforts of their citizens, two Callaway County communities have been named as Missouri Garden Cities.
Fulton and Holts Summit were notified of the distinction Friday afternoon by the Missouri Department of Agriculture as part of its AgriMissouri program's 10,000 Garden Challenge. Both cities had the most citizen-registered gardens for cities in their population class.
Fulton had 58 residents register their gardens with the challenge, putting it at the top of communities with 10,001-20,000 residents. Holts Summit had 66 residents register gardens, putting it in first place out of communities with a population between 2,501-5,000 residents.
"Nothing makes you value the freshness and quality of buying food locally than trying to grow it yourself, and it is outstanding to see so many Missourians supporting agriculture in their communities," Director of Agriculture Jon Hagler said in a press release. "We are proud to recognize communities whose residents have shown an outstanding commitment to fresh produce and agricultural education through their gardens."
Christine Tew, a communication specialist with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, said the department's AgriMissouri team promoted the 10,000 Garden Challenge last year by visiting farmers' markets throughout the state as well as through press releases and other promotional materials.
"We had 731 communities and 10,000 gardens (participate)," Tew said. "It was an eight-month effort to get to 10,000."
In the press release, Hagler said the 10,000 Garden Challenge was "a great way to connect people to the land, to their churches, schools, communities and their own backyards."
"The 10,0000 Garden Challenge encourages Missourians to get their hands in the dirt and to connect with the agriculture, local foods, the outdoors and healthy eating," Hagler said. "The thousands who participated in this challenge are a great example of the benefits of Missourians connecting with their neighbors and agriculture through food."