CCUA is participating in the CoMoGives year-end giving campaign

During the month of December, CCUA is participating in the CoMoGives year-end giving campaign. We need your help to raise $25,000 this December! Your generous support makes it possible for families and children to know where their food comes from and develop healthy eating habits by getting their hands dirty in the garden. 13100740_963528517029134_6855137106825561853_n

Simply go to, select the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture as your charity, and give securely online.

Opportunity Gardens – April Showers Bring…

A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves. – Marcel Proust

Well, there was most certainly a change in the weather {last} Thursday. The forecast called for severe thunderstorms, and severe thunderstorms came.  Parts of Boone county and other areas along I-70 through Missouri even saw tornadoes and hail.

Before the storms came, all I thought about was that my garden was going to get watered, and the soil would receive nutrients from the lightning.  When there was a break after the first storm, I checked on my garden to see if there was anything sprouting.

I was overjoyed to see tiny little cotyledons (seed leafs) peeking out where my leaf lettuce was planted.  After a week and 2 days, and 2 nights of thunderstorms, my garden was springing to life!

Then I proceeded to check the rest of the garden.  I saw a strange anomaly where my radishes were planted, which made me extremely nervous.   I saw these tiny red things with greens inside of them, and they were on top of the soil only where the radishes were.  (They turned out to only be new cherry blossoms that had blown off of my landlord’s cherry tree, but I didn’t find this out until when I came to work on Friday when I brought one in to the office.)

I finished examining my garden bed at where my peas were planted, and saw what very much looked like some of my peas sitting on top of the soil. My dad was trying to convince me that was a normal part of peas taking seed.  (I brought one in to work with the cherry blossom, and my coworkers informed me that peas sometimes will surface when there is a lot of rain, and you just poke them back into the ground.)

After the next storm, my whole neighborhood’s yards looked like it had snowed.  It had rained down pea-sized hail, or slightly larger.  I checked on my lettuce this morning, and they looked a little yellow, and were somewhat laying closer to the soil.  My hope is that they rally from getting pelted with hail, and get stronger.

So, my next step in my garden will be re-seeding some peas, since I did not poke the surfaced peas back into the ground, and they have since washed away with the rain or dried out.  And I will be much more watchful now that I do have little seedlings to care for, observe and protect.

A worthy piece of advice I received from Trish when I was expressing my concern about the cherry blossoms: Gardening is not meant to add worry or make you anxious. I will try to remember this moving forward.

*Since this entry original draft date, we’ve received more rains, and with that, all of my seeds save for my carrots are sprouting and looking healthy.


Opportunity Gardens: The Best Laid Plans

The best laid plans of mice and men…

So, what I’ve learned so far in my experience with planning and planting my first garden bed is that there is a lot of planning. But, as I have also come to know, there is a lot of improvisation and… killing.

No, I haven’t come to the thinning out of sprouts and plants, and there isn’t anything green to protect from garden pests.  What I’m talking about killing is your flawless, “finished” plans; killing your need for instant gratification; and killing your tendency to hold on to the small things that feed negativity. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Kill Your Perfect Plans

For as beautiful and perfect as my garden plan was, its purpose was to give me a reference point to start from.

Thanks to the growing guide and my garden plan, I knew which seeds needed to be planted in March. And I knew which square foot spacing template I needed for which plant. So, the majority of my mentoring session was me directly seeding my bed, and asking Trish, the Opportunity Gardens Coordinator, clarifying questions.

I knew about “thinning” only recently from my VISTA workdays on the farm, and previously understood the application only in regard to carrots.  But this past week, I had experienced thinning out sprouts in the greenhouse flats.  But it was only in actually seeding my bed that I learned that you purposefully plant more than one seed with many of the plants.  Kind of a survival-of-the-fittest, may-the-best-plant-live kind of mentality.  More connections finally clicking!

But, as you can see from my sketch, as we planted my bed, we realized space wasn’t nearly as abundant as we originally planned. As a result, we had to wait on transplanting kale and head lettuce. We also gave the quantity of items some second-thought. But I’m glad. I’m going to have a bushel of radishes without the second row I thought I needed.  Who plans for that many radishes? The owner of a rabbit.

2. Kill Your Need for Instant Gratification

We planted my bed just hours before the Tuesday thunderstorms — perfect timing. But, having been exposed to seeing seedlings in the greenhouse, I’ve been impatient with not seeing any green in my bed yet.

I have to remind myself that my bed was planted two days ago, and the evenings are quite cold.

3. Kill the Small Things

Again, I’m not talking about garden pests and thinning. I was rather stressed out by the end of the workday before we went to garden. My neighbor I share part of a house with refusing to move her car from the driveway for a minute to get the truck closer to the garden beds really didn’t help my high anxiety.

However, as soon as I started working on my garden, my thoughts shifted away from my bad day. I was learning a skill that creates and continues life, talking about how spoiled my bunny and I will be during salad season, and anticipating the coming rain to fall and water my seeds. In turn, I was not feeding negativity anymore, but rather, creating and nurturing new life.


Opportunity Gardens: And What An Opportunity!

Tell us your experience with gardening.

This was the hardest question to answer when I interviewed with the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture not much more than a year ago. It hadn’t dawned on me that it would be important for a Public Relations VISTA to have prior gardening experience. (VISTA is a program through AmeriCorps, and stands for Volunteer in Service to America.)

Now, having been with the Urban Farmers for a year, I can pinpoint countless moments where gardening would have been incredibly beneficial, both in regards to surviving on the living stipend that I’m provided through AmeriCorps VISTA, but also in being able to represent the organization to the best of my ability. Had I not gained experience through weekly workdays on the Urban Farm, I would have been way out of my element.

But I’m excited to announce that with my second year-of-service starting up, I get the chance to work on growing as a home-grower. My studio efficiency has two raised beds and an herb garden, and I qualify for participation within the Opportunity Gardens program.

Today, the Opportunity Gardens ladies and I met for some garden planning and lunch.  They brought my list of veggies I had requested, graph paper, and their shiny new vegetable flash cards to help me feel empowered as I planned out my garden’s planting and spacing for the growing season. They showed me how to block out one square, and then I was off! At points, they would give me advice, like when I was planning to plant entirely too many beans and peas for any one person, or letting me know that carrots and basil love tomatoes. At one point, I actually exclaimed, “I think I’m learning!”

When we returned to the office, they were so proud of my garden plan, they were sharing it with our other office mates. Who knows: They might hang a copy on the refrigerator with “Erin’s First Garden” written on it.

Erin's First Garden Plan

So, to illustrate just how amazing and life-changing gardening (and our Opportunity Gardens program) is, I’ll be periodically posting updates about my first garden from my garden journal, illustrations of things observed in my garden, or other anecdotes. I hope you enjoy these as much as I’ll enjoy sharing them.

Guest blogger – Erin King, Opportunity Gardens Participant


The Dirt – February

We just sent off the February edition of The Dirt, our quarterly newsletter we provide to our Opportunity Gardeners, but those of you in the know can access it two weeks early!

Check it out, read it online, download it, save it to your desktop, print it off for home, mark it up, carry it everywhere, plan your next three months, plan your garden, cherish it.  For the articles and recipe, click here.

Summer Employment with Happy Hollow Farm

Our friends at Happy Hollow Farm are looking to hire one or two full-time summer seasonal (probably 2-3 months, summer break) employees for the upcoming 2014 season.

Specific details about working at HHF and an application can be found on their website under the Membership Q&A page at the very bottom.

Free-Range Chicken Internship Opportunity

Country Neighbors Farm

202 S. Cleveland

Fayette, MO 65248

Contact: Laura B. Korte

Phone: [Home] 660-248-2730


General Description: We are fourth generation family farmers specializing in free range poultry and grass fed meats. We use holistic management and rotational grazing to manage our resources. We use compost to enrich our soils and improve our pastures. We are established and focused on providing our customers with the very finest meats available.

Internship Starts:
May 1
Internship Ends:
August 1
Number of Interns:
App Deadline:
March 15

Meals: You are responsible for meals.

Skills Desired: No farm experience is necessary. We are seeking an idividual who is self motivated and excited about local food. You will be expected to work under supervision and independently. You should be strong enough to work hard in all weather and lift 50 pounds.

Educational Opportunities: This is an all inclusive immersion ag education experience. You will be introduced to the local foods community and business. You will have the opportunity to network with like minded folks and be part of a dynamic community. 

Stipend: $200 per month, plus chicken, beef, and pork. A garden space is provided.

Housing: All housing and utilities are provided.

Preferred method Of Contact: phone

Internship Details: At the completion of this experience, you will have the knowledge and confidence to start your own free range chicken operation. There will be hands on brooding chicks, housing, feeding/watering, monitoring the flock’s health, cleaning, harvesting, and delivery of birds. You will also care for the baby turkeys, a sheep flock, and assist as needed with beef production.