On a cloudy day in a field behind Convoy of Hope’s World Distribution Center in Springfield, Mo., Jason Streubel, Ph.D and director of agriculture for Convoy of Hope, sits on a Kubota tractor grinning from ear-to-ear.
Here, in the heart of the city of more than 160,000 residents, an eight-foot barbed wire fence surrounds land on one side. On the other, a deer darts into a wooded area. The smell of freshly-tilled soil fills the air.
Streubel will use this half-acre in collaboration with local universities to plant fall crops and conduct variety trials. The team will collect soil samples, monitor growth rates and yield, and harvest crops.
“This field allows us to do research,” says Streubel. “As our organization gains academic credibility, it opens up relationships so that we can improve our techniques and feed more children.”
According to Streubel, the study also provides opportunity for grants that can be used to develop agriculture initiatives worldwide. Community gardens like this one have also been launched to aid the working poor in targeted areas, like Detroit. In Haiti, 3,600 farmers have been trained by Streubel’s team in management practices specific to their region.