Congressman Jason Smith, R-Salem, visited Home Gardens Community Market in St. Francois County on the first day of touring agricultural facilities across the 30 counties he represents. He is highlighting the robust role that agriculture and farming play in southeast Missouri.
The Home Gardens Community Market is owned and operated by a group of Old Order Mennonites who moved to the area in 2016. They chose Farmington because it is halfway between two of their sister communities — one in Scottsville, Kentucky, and the other in Rich Hill, Missouri.
The farm is self-sufficient with fruit and vegetable gardens, field corn, and milk from cows and sheep. Their goal is to expand their market to can their vegetables and start woodworking to sell furniture. Most impressive of all, this is done without any of the modern conveniences or machinery used on other farms. Smith was able to tour their grounds and see how a horse-powered treadmill provides the running water to wash fruits and vegetables from their gardens.
An accident involving a buggy and a pickup truck on Route OO earlier this month resulted in the death of one member of this close-knit community, 7-year-old Mervin Shirk. Smith was heartened to hear from its leaders how their neighbors in nearby Farmington and Fredericktown had reached out to help.
“What this community has had to endure lately is just gut-wrenching,” said Smith. “It was truly rewarding to be welcomed so warmly and to be a part of the healing process as they move forward.”
Smith has been supportive of this community in the past and has assisted them in getting mail delivery set up for the 16 families who live around and supply the produce for the Home Gardens Community Market.