Bringing Together a Community

Tiger Farm-to-Table Dinner showcases locally grown foods and area farmers

A grafted tomato plant grown at Bradford Research Center. Members of the student group Tigers for Community Agriculture met out at Bradford Research Center to help Research Specialist Leslie Touzeau help with new plantings and work in the hoop houses at the center in Columbia. TCA is a vegetable growing project part of Sustain Mizzou at the University of Missouri. TCA strives to provide a hands-on learning enviornment for students interested in sustainable agriculture. Photo by Kyle Spradley | © 2014 - Curators of the University of Missouri

Most Americans are three or more generations removed from agriculture and farm and ranch families make up less than two percent of the United States population. A disconnect has happened between farmers and consumers.

Several groups at the University of Missouri are looking to change that with an evening of celebrating agriculture, chefs, farmers and others from the surrounding Columbia community.

On May 3, the Tiger Farm-to-Table Dinner will be held on the MU campus at 4 p.m. outside Eckles Hall. A four-course meal will be prepared with local foods by local chefs and a chance for guests to learn and talk about sustainable agriculture and food production.

The meal will feature various vegetables and salad greens grown at the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Bradford Research Center in Columbia as well as pork loin from Patchwork Family Farms and cheesecake from Goatsbeard Farm in Harrisburg.

“This really showcases the collaborative effort of the community,” said Leslie Touzeau, research specialist at Bradford Research Center. “Promoting and supporting local food sources is important because there are people around here in our community growing food in a sustainable way and providing fresh vegetables and fruits, meats and fabulous cheeses. We want to make sure they get the recognition they deserve and for the rest of the community to learn about locally sourced foods.”

Each year, Touzeau grows more than 50 different crops on just under two acres of fields at Bradford Research Center with the help of students in Tigers for Community Agriculture (TCA). The club has close to 80 MU students who are interested in sustainable agriculture and learning more about where their foods come from. TCA is a student-ran project through Sustain Mizzou, a volunteer group working to promote sustainable ways of living at MU.

“We grow everything from lettuce to bok choy, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and okra,” said Touzeau. “A lot of our food is served in the dining halls on the MU campus as well as our donations to area food pantries. It’s great having a system that people can share their food with others in the community.”

Informational presentations from other groups in the community will provide guests a chance to learn more about their food and where it comes from, as well as a chance to meet the farmers themselves. The Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture and members from the Columbia Farmers Market are planning to attend.

tca work_bradford_04072014_0044Research Specialist Leslie Touzeau, left, laughs with Lebo Moore as they sort tomato plants before planting in a hoop house at Bradford Research Center.

“We really want to see a lot of the students come out,” said Lebo Moore, MU graduate student and TCA member. “We think it’s very important for the younger generation to know where their food comes from because they are the ones that are going to have to face the challenge in the coming years of food insecurity. I think it’s great to allow them and others to have a hands-on experience like this.”

The Tiger Farm-to-Table Dinner is a collaborative effort organized by Sustain Mizzou, MU Student Life, the MU Environmental Leadership Office, Bradford Research Center and the MU Wellness Resource Center.

The meal will be prepared by chefs from the University Club of MU, Campus Dining Services, students from CAFNR’s Hospitality Management Program and the MU Child Development Lab.

A wine tasting of local Missouri wines prior to the meal from 3 to 4 p.m. will be served to guests who purchase an additional ticket online.

“This event truly is about putting a face to one that provides you food,” added Touzeau. “Someone grew this food and took the time and energy to bring it to you. These are people in your community. Why not support your neighbors?”

Tickets cost $8 for students and $30 for non-students. For more information and to purchase tickets visit

Press-quality photos of TCA students working at Bradford Research Center can be downloaded from CAFNR’s Flickr page at

tca work_bradford_04072014_0029Sean McWay, TCA project leader, digs a trench in a hoop house at Bradford Research Center. Student members from TCA spent the afternoon planting tomatoes and strawberries to be used in the Tiger Farm-to-Table Dinner on May 3.