Garden open house showcases urban agriculture and artwork

Monday, April 27, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 10:50 a.m. CDT, Monday, April 27, 2009
Bobby Johnson holds one of the demonstration garden's newly grown asparagus plants. Joshson says the plants can be picked but it is important to leave the top shoots behind to spur further growth.

*CORRECTION: Nancy and Roger TannerThies visited the open house. Their last name was misspelled in an earlier version of this article.

COLUMBIA — A dozen citizens spent Sunday afternoon at the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture's demonstration garden open house.

The demonstration garden helps the center educate the community by showcasing what types of foods can be grown locally.


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From 2 to 5 p.m., the open house featured acoustic banjo music, photography and earring artwork, as well as tours of the garden and greenhouse.

The garden at the intersection of Ash and St. Joseph Streets is only one of many gardens managed by the organization started by Bobby Johnson, Daniel Soetaert and Adam Saunders. The three also teach MU's "Sustainable Development in Downtown Columbia" course.

“The best way to teach someone how to garden is to showcase a successful garden.” Johnson said.

The diverse garden features multiple species of corn, lettuce, asparagus, pole beans, peas, broccoli, cumbers, leeks, carrots, radish, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, squash, strawberries and many types of herbs.

Johnson said the open house was not widely publicized. “I didn’t pressure people to come,” Johnson said.

The atmosphere of the event was very relaxed. 

Luke Freeman, who takes the sustainable development course and has worked in the demonstration garden for two semesters, sold his photography at the open house with Natalie Noack.

“I hand chose the beads, and I piece the earrings together and wrap them with wire," Noack said. "It takes me about a minute per earring.”

While riding in the neighborhood, cyclists and pedestrians stopped by to tour the garden briefly.

“It’s exciting to know I’m exciting other people to grow food,” Johnson said.

Nancy and Roger TannerThies* came to the garden after being referred by Saunders and Soetaert, who managed a booth at the Earth Day Festival.

“We’re not urban gardeners but we’re interested, so we decided to stop by,” Nancy said.

The pair traded tips with Johnson on how to grow high-yielding sweet potatoes. The organization traded contact information to visit the couple’s garden and learn new ideas.

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