Homegrown gardens subject of perennial Sustainable Living Fair

Friday, September 16, 2011 | 2:11 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — For Galen Chadwick, the greatest threat to food security in the U.S. is that most people can't grow what they eat.

"It's not just that we're not growing our food, we don't know how to," Chadwick, founder of the Well-Fed Neighbor Alliance said. "No one can independently feed themselves anymore.”

Chadwick is the keynote speaker at Sunday’s ninth annual Sustainable Living Fair, to be held at Columbia College’s Atkins-Holman Student Commons. His group aims to bring independent farms and consumers together to create jobs and foster community.

Chadwick’s speech on Sunday will focus on the increasing local food production. He will be joined by Mark Wright, a former Missouri House of Representatives member and founder of, which provides self-reliance information for Missouri and the surrounding area, according to the website.

Both Chadwick and Wright, both from Springfield, were involved in starting the 1,000 Gardens Project there in 2009. It encouraged residents to plant 1,000 gardens in 100 days in homes, schools and neighborhoods. Chadwick estimated that around 3,500 gardens were started over that time, and he said the local Lowe’s hardware store had a boom of garden supply sales after the project’s launch.

“If you bring back our food production to the local level, you bring back our local jobs," Wright said.

Chadwick and Wright have planned a news conference to take place during the fair at 1:15 p.m., where they will announce the launch of a statewide initiative, similar to the 1,000 Gardens Project.

“We’re ultimately trying to educate and inform Missourians and bring back food security to the people of Missouri,” Wright said.

The Fair will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Show-Me Solar will showcase 30 booths, eight workshops and three solar tours. The event is put on by Mid-Missouri Peaceworks' Center for Sustainable Living.

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