The Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture plants to use a $29,000 planning grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for toward a farmers market project in Columbia.
The Columbia Farmers Market has been working on $1.2 million plan that includes a pavilion and an urban agriculture center in Clary Shy Park.
Executive Director of the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture Billy Polansky says the grant will be used toward two main objectives, including hiring a consultant to investigate how to best use a kitchen in the new space, and strengthening the relationship between the health department and farmers.
“The first step is determining the need. What type of need there is, is going to determine how the kitchen is designed and planned out,” Polansky said.
Polansky says the grant will help the local health department and farmers come together to discuss food regulations.
“In Boone County and across the country there’s health code regulations and they’re not always clear and the regulations pertain to selling and sampling and selling processed foods,” Polansky said. “So we’re trying to have a better relationship with the health department and the farmers so that the farmers have a firm grasp of what the rules are and so that the health department has a firm grasp of what the farmers needs are.”
The market manager for the Columbia Farmers Market Corrina Smith says the grant will provide enough money to plan a suitable kitchen for the site.
“Having a space for vendors to be able to process any excess produce and creating an added value process will be really beneficial to local farmers,” Smith said. “And then also to have a space that vendors can prepare samples in a way that is in line with the health department regulations rather than having to create their own kind of three sink set ups and hand washing stations would be very beneficial.”
The planning process for the project will begin when a consultant is selected to assist the advisory committee.