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Agriculture Park dedicated in Columbia

FarmersMarket1Saturday shoppers flock into the new home of the Columbia Farmers Market at city's recently built agriculture park. As longtime members of the Columbia, Mo., community, leaders from MFA Incorporated and MFA Oil Company were on hand Saturday, July 13, at the dedication of the city’s new Agriculture Park. The MFA Foundation supported the project.

The dedication marked the completion of the project’s first phase, which includes the University of Missouri Health Care Pavilion, a parking lot, playground, walking trail and supporting infrastructure. A second phase of construction, which would add an event center, a kitchen and more stalls for vendors at the pavilion, will go forward as funding allows.

Speaking on behalf of the foundation, MFA Incorporated Presi­dent and CEO Ernie Verslues said that throughout its history, MFA’s mission has been to provide farming and ranching solutions that contribute to the success of its member-owners as well as their communities. Part of that mission includes member and community education.

“We’ve also been active in educating consumers on modern farm­ing practices and the safety of our food supply,” said Verslues. “This is a growing challenge as each generation is further removed from the farm. We are proud to lend a helping hand in growing our communi­ty and wish the park great success in its mission.”

FarmersMarketMFA Incorporated CEO Ernie Verslues was among officials on hand July 13 to dedicate the new park, which is being funded in part by a grant from the MFA Foundation.Funded by a private and public partnership, the first phase of the project cost $3.75 million and includes $495,000 from MU Health Care for sponsorship and naming rights of the pavilion for 10 years. The site is located on 10 acres of previously unused city-owned space in Clary-Shy Park, where the Boone County Fairgrounds were located between 1948 and 1991. The farmers market began operating there in 1980.

The Columbia Agriculture Park facilities are about half completed, according to project officials. The pavilion, which includes a perma­nent roof over the vendor area, is about one-third finished. Still to be built are a barn and greenhouse for the urban agriculture center, a small teaching classroom and demonstration gardens. The harvests will go to the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri. The project will total around $8 million at completion, which is expected to be in 2021.

Learn more about the park online at https://buildthistown.org/

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