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It’s all about the money.

A company is in the process of creating an “up to” 6,999 beef cattle confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) on 400 acres on U.S. 50 in western Johnson County, just west of Powell Gardens. The Missouri Department of Natural Resource held a permit hearing in Warrensburg on Tuesday evening.

Tabitha Schmidt, CEO President of Powell Gardens, spoke at the hearing:

Thank you. My name’s Tabitha Schmidt [spelling]. I’m the CEO President of Powell Gardens. Nick elaborated on the history of the gardens. I would like to talk about where the gardens are today. This year is our thirtieth anniversary as an official botanical garden. We have grown to become a cultural community treasure in the Kansas City region. And as Dick said we are the answer to the Missouri Botanical Garden on the St. Louis side. We are, Powell Gardens, is Kansas City’s botanical garden. We have seven themed gardens, including a twelve acre edible landscape where we operate a community supported agricultural membership program. We sell our produce to the community to consume. We are a nine hundred and seventy acre site. We maintain one hundred botanical acres. And I think what is really important to understand is that a botanical garden is a living museum. We have a living collection that we care for. Our mission is to conserve, preserve and educate. We are about the Midwestern spirit of place and the importance of plants in our lives. That is what we do here.

We have a hundred thousand visitors and many, many people make memories. We bring joy to the community. There are weddings, there are memorial services. There are festivals, like our festival of butterflies that has been over twenty years in, in its making. We just launched a festival of lights last year. We had over twenty-two thousand people visit us in a five week period.

The irony of all of this is that this is happening at a time that Powell Gardens is actually in the middle of a capital campaign. We’ve raised almost ten million dollars for endowment and capital improvements, including a chapel study that is now being constructed, a dressing room for our chapel where many couples get married and people are honored in death. And we are raising money for a new front entrance that will be right on [U.S.] 50 Highway, grand entrance, really stating the cultural treasure that we have become after thirty years of history.

And we are very concerned about what this CAFO will do to the future of Powell Gardens and we urge the DNR and any other regulators and people in this decision making process to seriously consider not only what this could do to the neighborhood, but also to a very important community treasure, Powell Gardens. Thank you. [applause]

Tabitha Schmidt, CEO President, Powell Gardens.

Previously:

Now that’s a CAFO (March 18, 2018)

Now that’s a CAFO – comments addressed to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (March 21, 2018)

Suppose you threw a DNR CAFO hearing in Warrensburg and everyone came? (April 3, 2018)

Suppose you threw a DNR CAFO hearing in Warrensburg and everyone came? – photos (April 5, 2018)