Community Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture Program

July 22, 2003

Good Life Family Farm is a model
for sustainable acreage in Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Hardwood trees produce syrup and high-value timber on rolling hills above a broad stream. On the rich bottomland below, honeybee hives and alley crops thrive between rows of trees. Beyond are houses and outbuildings, raised growing beds, a greenhouse and hoop houses to extend the growing season. There is a pasture-based dairy operation, a fruit orchard, pasture-based poultry and rotational grazing for beef cattle and horses.

Located right next to the town of Friendly Corners, Mo. — which contains a year-round farmers market, a church, a local-foods restaurant and a bed and breakfast, among other businesses - Good Life Family Farm is ideally sited.

The acreage? Oh, about 8-by-5 feet.

Good Life Family Farm and Friendly Corners are a sustainable farm and a community model conceived and constructed by the University of Missouri Community Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture program (CFSSA).

"We have fully renovated this sustainable model farm over the past few weeks," said Jose Garcia, program coordinator and MU Extension assistant professor of rural sociology. "This demonstrates the connections between the community and the farm: their interdependency."

The model farm will be displayed at the Missouri State Fair Ag-citement booth sponsored by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, and also at the Ozark Empire Fair in Springfield, Mo., and the National Small Farm Trade Show and Conference in Columbia. It will show adults and children the many ways in which sustainable agriculture can thrive and in turn benefit nearby Missouri communities, said Mary Hendrickson, MU Extension associate professor of rural sociology.

"This shows all the businesses that are incorporated in the farm," Hendrickson said. "Agroforestry, for instance, can go on land that might not be used for anything else. We're trying with this model to demonstrate the potential uses for land in Missouri."

The model farm will be displayed at fairs, farm shows, schools and events all over the state, she said. "We hope it's an idea-starter." University research has shown that most of the operations on the model farm can be profitable to producers, she added. "We have a lot of backup documentation."

Good Life Family Farm might seem almost utopian, said Judy Grundler of the state Department of Agriculture, but that's only because most Missouri farms have become large-acreage operations that produce only soybeans, corn and other major commodities.

"It's actually closer to where we used to be than the way we are now," she said. "It's all about diversifying the farm. If you can produce high-value products, you don't need as much acreage as you would otherwise."

LeAnn Meinhardt, an MU senior in agricultural education, is primarily responsible for constructing the updated version of Good Life Family Farm and the town of Friendly Corners. All the model needs, she said, are a couple of final touches. "There are still a few signs that need to go up yet."

Photo available for following caption Photo credit: (MU photo by Jim Curley)

LeAnn Meinhardt, right, a University of Missouri senior majoring in agricultural economics, talks about the Good Life Family Farm she helped to create for the MU Community Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture program.

Other photos:
Photo available               Photo available

Comments, questions, or suggestions for the entire site? Please contact Mary Hendrickson at 573-882-7463 or

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