[montanafood_ag] Farm to School Grows in Rural Montana

Kevin Moore kmoore at aeromt.org
Tue Aug 30 11:47:15 MDT 2011

Hello All,


Several rural communities across Montana have organized community-wide, food
and agricultural education and development projects that will begin
incorporating farm to school programs starting this fall. I hope you find
these projects as inspiring as I have.


First, a little background on FoodCorps
<http://montanafoodcorps.blogspot.com/> , a program that is playing a key
role in the projects described below. Founded in and operated since 2006 by
the Grow Montana <http://growmontana.ncat.org/>  coalition, FoodCorps is a
statewide team of VISTA volunteers specially trained to develop
farm-to-cafeteria programs. The volunteers are provided with mentors and
dispatched to partnering institutions in communities around the state.
Previously, FoodCorps volunteers have worked in a variety of public
institutions, mostly those in Montana's university system, a tribal college,
and larger K-12 schools. Now for the first time, Montana's program is
focusing on rural K-12 schools, and in July 2011, it placed a VISTA
volunteer in each of the communities of Boulder, Ennis, Red Lodge, Dillon,
Hysham-Rosebud, Ronan, and Glendive. A brief summary of each community's
project is below. 


Host Communities 

The backbone of Montana's FoodCorps program is the team of nine communities
who provide the on-the-ground support, network, and mentors for the
FoodCorps members. The 2011-2012 FoodCorps host sites are in Red Lodge,
Ronan, Glendive, Forsythe, Kalispell, Livingston, Dillon, Boulder, and
Ennis. Read on to learn more about each. 


NOTE: Want your community to be a FoodCorps host site? Our current host
sites have already been selected, but over the next six months we will
consider new partners for July of 2012. If you want to be considered, please
contact Crissie McMullan at  <mailto:crissiem at ncat.org> crissiem at ncat.org. 

21st Century Learning Program, Boulder Elementary School
Using a network of donated garden space, kids in after-school and summer
programs here already produce a bounty of fresh foods for local families,
fellow students, and for after-school cooking classes. Some of the produce
is sold at Boulder Farmer's Market and the local grocery store, proceeds
from which support future programming. The gardens serve as a popular
outdoor classroom for adults and kids alike, and this year will expand into
a small section of playground for a season-extending greenhouse. Lea Howe,
Boulder's FoodCorps member, will help expand the school garden efforts into
a school-wide initiative, where what children learn about healthy eating in
the garden and greenhouse is reinforced in the cafeteria and the classroom.
FoodCorps Contact: Lea Howe, lhowe23 at gmail.com
Site Supervisor: Rochelle Hesford, Rochelle.hesford at gmail.com


Madison Farm to Fork (F2F)
Located in Ennis, Montana, Madison Farm to Fork's volunteer-driven programs
include the Madison Farm to Fork Farmers' Market, the Geothermal Greenhouse
Project, and Farm to School, a collaboration which includes the Ennis
Elementary School principal, 10 classroom teachers, the cafeteria manager,
and the Resource Room for special needs students. F2F volunteers have
completed over 10 projects with kindergarten through 4th grade classrooms,
ranging from art to science, and featured a monthly food product in the
cafeteria to coincide with classroom curriculum. FoodCorps member Natasha
Hegmann will take these burgeoning volunteer efforts to the next level.
FoodCorps Contact: Natasha Hegmann, Natasha.hegmann at gmail.com
Site Supervisor: Janet Bean-Dochnahl, beandocs at gmail.com


Red Lodge Area Community Foundation and The Food Partnership Council
The Food Partnership Council grew out of a successful Local Food Forum that
was held in Red Lodge this winter. The Council is actively building momentum
behind initiatives that include the expanding the farmers' market,
strengthening producer-consumer relationships, developing community gardens,
organizing local events, and improving school food. Work in the schools will
be led by FoodCorps member Alyssa Charney, who will will focus on on
education within the greenhouse, garden, and classrooms, as well as efforts
to bring more local, healthy foods into the schools. The Food Partnership
Council is a partner of the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation. 
FoodCorps Contact: Alyssa Charney, redlodge.foodcorps at gmail.com
Site Supervisor: Tracy Timmons, tracy at rlacf.org


UM Western, Dillon Middle School
In 2006-2008, UM Western hosted a FoodCorps member to create and develop the
UM Western Farm to College Program. Now, Dillon plans to be home to another
FoodCorps member in order to connect the UM Western Farm to College program
and campus garden to students at Dillon Middle School. The UM Western campus
garden began in spring 2010, growing 15 different varieties of chemical free
crops, which were then sold back to the campus cafeteria. In addition,
several community members took advantage of having plots at the garden site
where for a nominal fee ($20/year) they had access to organic compost for
their plot, drip irrigation, and short "mini-nars" to learn about the
technical aspects of growing foods in an organic environment.
Next year the campus garden plans to build raised beds for retirement center
residents, a glass greenhouse, and a children's garden circle for toddlers
from a near-by day care center. The garden project will also collaborate
with the local hospital and diabetes prevention program. Leah Grunzke's
mission as a FoodCorps team member is to connect these campus garden efforts
with Dillon Middle School, creating a school-wide initiative where what
children learn about healthy eating in the garden is reinforced in the
cafeteria and the classroom.
FoodCorps Contact: Leah Grunzke, l_grunzke at hotdawg.umwestern.edu
Site Supervisor: Linda Lyon, l_lyon at umwestern.edu


Rosebud-Treasure County Extension, Hysham and Rosebud Public Schools
By bringing our tight-knit community together to learn how to feed
ourselves, Rosebud-Treasure County Extension aims to tackle several
poverty-related problems at once--including hunger and obesity and the
illnesses that accompany them, as well as the lack of economic opportunities
for area food producers. To this end, Rosebud-Treasure County Extension has
prioritized community-based food systems since 2009, managing a community
garden on the county fairgrounds, donating fresh produce from the garden to
the area food bank, leading Montana Masters Gardeners Program, and
supporting a local farmers market. FoodCorps team member Anina Estrem's job
is to help expand this effort into public schools.
FoodCorps Contact: Anina Estrem, anina.estrem at gmail.com
Site supervisors: Jennifer Anderson and Byron Hould ||
jenanderson at montana.edu or byron at montana.edu


Lake County Community Development Corporation
Lake County Community Development Corporation's Food and Agriculture Center
has worked for the past decade to reduce poverty by providing economic
opportunities for area food producers. A flagship of this effort is Mission
Mountain Food Enterprise Center, a USDA/ FDA inspected processing facility,
which provides cost-effective processing equipment and technical assistance
for area food entrepreneurs and processes local fruits and vegetables for
six local school districts and the University of Montana. LCCDC is also a
coalition member of the Flathead Indian Reservation Food and Fitness
project, which aims to make food and fitness a community norm in Reservation
communities. A collaborative two-year community assessment recommended
increasing health education and access to nutritious, fresh foods in the
schools as an important and a necessary next-step in improving the health of
our community members. Lindsay Howard's job as a FoodCorps member will be to
put this recommendation into action.
FoodCorps Contact: Lindsay Howard, lhoward at mmfec.org
Site Supervisor: Karl Sutton, ksutton at ronan.net


Community GATE, Glendive 
The Farm to Table project in Glendive already works on community-based food
systems through the following projects: 

*	a shared-use, commercial kitchen that helps develop and market
local-food products;
*	a Saturday Farmers Market that supports WIC and EBT;
*	the Western Trails Foods and Prairie Home Cuisine food manufacturing
business that provides residents healthy, locally sourced, and locally
manufactured foods;
*	a high tunnel production and demonstration project to help local
residents explore the possibilities of extending their growing season and
expanding food production;
*	a producer-owned, ag marketing co-op to market local products while
sharing the profit;
*	the Prairie Development Center that houses the Dawson County Food
*	a community garden where local residents can grow their own food at
little or no cost;
*	a regional culinary arts program at Dawson Community College; 
*	A ServeMontana Food Systems Development Project to establish
self-directed, self-sustaining local food councils within the 16 easternmost
counties of Montana; and
*	a local foods store to help market locally produced and healthy food

FoodCorps member Anne McHale's work will help channel the local food
production efforts into the school system. 
FoodCorps Contact: Anne McHale, anne.mchale at gmail.com
Site supervisor: Peggy Iba, peggy.iba at gmail.com


Livingston School District's Farm to School Program

In a school district where nearly half of all students qualify for free and
reduced lunches, for the past several years a concerned group of parents,
teachers, farmers, and others have been working together to serve the most
nutritious school lunches possible and reduce food poverty in the district.
The center piece of their plan is a Farm to School program which would serve
fresh, healthy foods grown by local farmers, along with an educational
program that gives kids hands-on opportunity to learn more about good
nutrition from the ground (aka soil) up. They also hope to add a student-
raised livestock component, creating a unique model for our state. FoodCorps
member Becky Naab's job is to help bring school, farmer/rancher, and other
community stakeholders together to coordinate and implement the goals of the
Livingston Farm to School program. 

FoodCorps Contact: Becky Naab, bnaab at livingston.k12.mt.us
Site supervisor: Todd Wester, twester at livingston.k12.mt.us


Flathead Valley Farm to School

Now in its second year, Flathead Valley Farm to School works with farmers,
parents and schools to facilitate bringing more fresh, locally produced food
to school cafeterias, and to enhance nutrition and agriculture education in
the classroom. They also partner with other community organizations to
provide education about sustainable, local food systems.  Flathead Valley
Farm to School is based at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell,
Montana, and serves urban and rural schools in Flathead and Lincoln
Counties; however, they welcome inquiries from other counties in
northwestern Montana as well.  
FoodCorps Contact: Katie Wheeler, katie.t.wheeler at gmail.com
Site Supervisor: Janaya Okerlun, jokerlun at fvcc.edu
<mailto:jokerlun at fvcc.edu> 


For more information about FoodCorps contact:

Crissie McMullan

National Center for Appropriate Technology
FoodCorps for Rural Montana Project Director
National FoodCorps Co-Founder

Email: crissiem at ncat.org

Phone: (406) 531-5162


Message Sent By: 

Kevin Moore

Grow Montana Coordinator

432 N. Last Chance Gulch

Helena, MT 59601

(406) 443-7272 / Fax (406) 442-9120


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