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Root Cellar awarded $588,000 by the USDA

Root Cellar, a local food market that serves Columbia, Jefferson City and Ashland, has received a large three-year grant through the Local Food System Collaboration by the United States Department of Agriculture, according to a news release. The awarded amount totals $588,000.

The Loop Community Improvement District, an organization dedicated to creating jobs through COMO Cooks, and Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri, a land conservation organization, will also be working with Root Cellar to help local producers grow their businesses.

The project has new plans to improve the customer experience and will focus on supporting farmers and entrepreneurs who have struggled to get their foot in the door, including minority farmers and producers under economic strain.

“The COVID-19 Pandemic shined a light on the fragility of the industrialized and globalized food system that failed us in the early days of the pandemic," Root Cellar’s Co-Owner Jake Davis said in a news release. "We are excited the USDA has recognized the need to further invest in strengthening the system we have been building for over ten years here in Mid-Missouri.”

Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri will take charge in organizing local farmers and making sure their voices are heard so they can build their businesses and protect their land.

“Our local growers are often among the best land stewards we’ve got,” Mike Powell, executive director of Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri, said.

The Loop CID will support local food artisans and entrepreneurs through the COMO Cooks Shared Kitchen and offer business development services.

“If we can provide affordable kitchen space, pop-up retail options, and promotional assistance, it would be a game changer for the local food industry,” Carrie Gartner, executive director of The Loop CID, said.

The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.