AgriMissouri's 10,000 Garden Challenge grows fans

Monday, August 1, 2011
Bill Dunn shows some of the produce Saturday from the Scholarship Garden in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

Every day, Bill Dunn looks forward to returning home and working in the small garden built on a section of the parking lot behind his house.

It's a small plot, but the garden produces enough vegetables to supply the restaurant Celebrations with fresh produce.

"Celebrations, here in Cape Girardeau, has been a very good supporter," Dunn said. "I deliver produce to them, fresh, every day. There are other restaurants who would love to get in on local produce, but I can't produce enough in a 30-by-30-foot space to supply all of the restaurants that are interested."

Dunn said his garden produced almost 900 pounds of vegetables last year, an amount that would sufficiently feed a family of four during that time.

People's ability to start growing their own produce is something AgriMissouri, a program of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, is promoting with its 10,000 Garden Challenge.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Nixon launched the program, which allows state residents to register their gardens on AgriMissouri's website. Once registered, they can enter contests and win prizes such as gift certificates, tools and gardening supplies.

State residents have registered more than 4,400 gardens since the challenge started. Cape Girardeau residents have registered 24 gardens.

Dunn said he registered his garden after learning about the challenge.

"I just wanted our garden to be listed," Dunn said. "I wanted people to see that there are people who care about the city having a local garden. Statewide, I think it's a great challenge. Cape can do better than 24 gardens, and the state can do better than just 4,400."

Dunn also uses his garden to give back to the community, with 100 percent of proceeds going to fund scholarships for students attending Southeast Missouri State University.

For more information about the 10,000 Garden Challenge and tips on how to start a garden, visit AgriMissouri's website at http://agrimissouri.com/gardens.

ssemmler@semissourian.com

388-3648

Pertinent address:

11 S. Spanish St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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