The Beef Food Supply
GROW founding partner, Missouri Beef Industry Council, reports that Missouri has 45,000 cattle farmers and ranchers with an average of 40 head of cattle or less and of those farms, 97 percent are family owned. Mark Russell, executive director of Missouri Beef Industry Council, says that thousands of cattle farmers and ranchers throughout the state are being affected by the shutdowns of processing plants and the shift of processing and packaging for restaurants and institutional food service to packaging for grocery stores.
“There is no shortage of beef for consumers. It has been a domino effect that has the supply line backed up, but we are slowly seeing signs of improvements. And if there is a silver lining, we have seen tremendous growth in more people buying local beef from local farmers,” Russell said.
The GROW Gallery has continued to evolve and expand over the past 4 years. The central focus of the gallery is to provide exhibits and activities that showcase how we all have a role to play in the stewardship of our food supply. In other words, we all eat, but what we think about food is shaped by our history, personal tastes, culture and society and has a direct impact on our food supply and food production.
Now, more than ever, with the impact of COVID-19, we are reminded of how crucial this food process is to our society. Farmers are on the front lines and are being called to help with the demand of grocery stores as more people stay home and opt to eat more home-cooked meals. With the added pressure on our food chain and the shift in behavioral activities, we are seeing a new food process and a new world emerge for our farmers as they continue to provide us with this essential need.
The outdoor experience created in the GROW Gallery has never seemed as important as it does in light of our current situation. You can discover more about our region’s hard-working farmers and ranchers, the crops and livestock they raise and the advanced science and the technology they use to feed the world through this unique gallery. The acreage features gardens that include specialty crops like tomatoes, lettuce, garlic and peas and an orchard with peaches, plums, apples and even figs.
Not only does GROW have a variety of living spaces to explore, combine demonstrations, featuring our big red CASE IH Combine, highlight the role of technology in harvesting grains like rice, corn and wheat. Our GROW gallery showcases what our regional farmers do, how they bring food from harvest to home, and how they work to support innovations in food production.
We are grateful to be able to offer this one-of-a-kind gallery and are incredibly fortunate to have our Missouri and Illinois farm families to support and guide us as we inform and inspire you with the story of agriculture and its vital role in today’s local and global economies.
“Everyone from the supply chain to the farmers are showing up to work hard every day… I am very proud to be a dairy farmer and to
continue to work hard for America. We are all in this together.”
Madi Scubal, Prairie Farms Dairy Farmer
The GROW Gallery Planting Plan
Hannah Reinhart, the GROW Plant and Animal Manager, is the person responsible for making sure the plants and animals thrive.
When developing a plan for the gallery, Hannah tries to keep a couple of things top of mind. First, she features plants that everyone can relate to, whether they’re a novice gardener or an experienced one, but second, she features ones that are still surprising and new to the gallery.
This summer, Hannah and the GROW team have selected some unusual specialty crops and plants like luffa squash and teosinte. Luffa squash can be eaten fresh when small and tender or, if left on the vine, can be dried to be used as a luffa sponge. Teosinte is corn’s ancient ancestor and will be grown next to modern corn so you can observe the differences between the two.
Tips for Gardeners
When beginning to garden, plant what you like to eat first before experimenting. You want what’s grown to go to good use and not to waste.
Think about how much space you have. Crops like tomatoes are very popular but take up too much room and won’t produce as much as you would like. Plant a cherry tomato for an ample harvest if you do want tomatoes.
If you don’t have a lot of space, think about using “square foot gardening,” which divides the planting area into individual square feet and helps plan the proper amount for each crop.
Save your seeds. Reserve a small portion of your crop to dry out and harvest the seed.