Posted by Kaitlyn McConnell on Feb. 6, 2018 Community Foundation of the Ozarks presents a check to Springfield Community Gardens.

Springfield Community Gardens (SGC) is growing – but this time, it’s not food. It’s space. The food-sharing garden group has moved into the Cox North kitchen, where a portion of the facility allows for the expansion of services, as well as education.  

“We already had a garden adjacent to the Cox North property, so it made sense for us to rent space from the hospital,” says Maile Auterson, director and co-founder of Springfield Community Gardens. “We’re glad to partner with CoxHealth in this endeavor, since it will ultimately be a huge health benefit to the community by allowing us to teach people how to better utilize fresh produce.”

It’s something that CoxHealth leaders are excited about as well.

“Since CoxHealth’s Springfield food operations have largely moved to Cox South, we had space that was perfect for this partnership,” says Jason Bauer, system director for Food and Nutrition Services at CoxHealth. “CoxHealth has made improving the health of the community a priority, so the gardens’ efforts are ones we really support.”

The space was procured by SGC through a grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. Through it, SCG now has a location to wash, chop and prepare produce for the nearby C-Street Market, as well as make value-added products that have a stable shelf life, such as pasta and dehydrated vegetables.

Additionally, it’s a place that’s perfect for community education sessions. Leaders will host small classes for garden leaders on preparing healthy produce, which ultimately will feed children at the Boys and Girls Club, men at the Victory Mission, the Life 360 daycare, and C-Street Market.

The space also allows the group to host chronic disease prevention classes, and educate the public on licensing requirements and everything needed to start a cottage industry food business, including creating a business plan.

Since SCG began in 2010, the group has grown to 21 gardens and distributed more than 375,000 pounds of food through Ozarks Food Harvest. For more information about the group, click here.