Tag Archive for: Local Food

Montana-grown foods will take center stage in Gardiner on Friday, Dec. 2, when the Montana Harvest of the Month Showcase comes to Park County.

The Montana Harvest of the Month program promotes food grown in the state. Each month, participating sites spotlight a food by serving it in at least one meal, snack, or à la carte offering. Schools and early care programs also offer students taste tests and include the food in lessons and activities.

“That food might be summer squash, which isn’t going to be at the top of most kids’ lunch-time wish list. It’s amazing to see how often kids surprise themselves and really like a food they didn’t think they would,” said Local Foods Specialist Molly Kirkham of the National Center for Appropriate Technology.

NCAT heads up the Montana Harvest of the Month program along with a number of partnering organizations around the state.

“Kids often aren’t very adventurous when it comes to food. One of the primary goals of Harvest of the Month is simply to expose children — and adults — to new, healthy foods. The other goal is to support Montana’s farmers and ranchers.”

Montana Harvest of the Month also is an excellent way to launch or expand a farm-to-school or farm-to-cafeteria program since it provides an easy framework to follow and ready-to-use materials, Kirkham said.

Montana Harvest of the Month is open to K-12 schools, after-school programs, summer food service programs, early care and education facilities, food businesses, farmers markets, foodbanks, and healthcare institutions in the state.

Farmers and ranchers interested in marketing to school districts or other institutions and Children and Adult Food Care Program providers also could get a lot out of the event, she said.

“The showcase is going to be informative, and a lot of fun,” Kirkham said. “It will include taste-test training and other activities, recipes, team-building ideas, and plenty of opportunity for networking.”

Kirkham encourages anyone interested in the Montana Harvest of the Month program or farm-to-school and farm-to-cafeteria programs to attend the showcase event Friday, Dec. 2, at Gardiner Schools, located at 510 Stone Street. It will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.

The cost for the Montana Harvest of the Month Showcase is $15 for an individual and $50 for groups of four or five. Some scholarships are available. Registration includes lunch and snacks made with local foods.

To register, go to the Montana Harvest of the Month website at MTHARVESTOFTHEMONTH.ORG.

 

The Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition has released a new report showing locally grown and sold foods make a big impact to Montana communities. The report, “Economic Value and Impact of Local Food in Montana,” was completed by Highland Economics on behalf of the coalition. It shows locally grown Montana foods supports $158 million in retail sales across the state’s economy. The report evaluates the economic value of “local food,” food produced and consumed in the state of Montana without leaving the state for finishing and processing elsewhere. The full report can be found at GROWMT.ORG.

“The study delivers a comprehensive look at the Montana food value chain,” says Jan Tusick, Director at Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center, in Ronan and member of Grow Montana’s steering committee. “The study will be a critical tool as we continue to build local food economies and the economic benefit to our Montana communities.”

Highland Economics began research in January of 2021, and interviewed local food consumers, producers, and intermediaries (processors and institutional buyers such as schools and hospitals) to understand the current climate of local food purchasing in the state. An extensive literature review on local foods in Montana and nationwide was also conducted.

Key Takeaways Include:

  • $158 million is the estimated total of retail value of local food sales in Montana: $118 million comes from sales at stores, restaurants institutions, and processors. Direct-to-consumer sales, such as farmers markets, farms-stands, and community supported agriculture (CSAs) subscriptions account for $40 million in local food sales.
  • Local food production in Montana supports 1,110 Montana jobs and supports $31.9 million in Montana labor income.
  • Less capacity to process food in Montana: Montana employed 3,000 people in the food-processing sector in the 1950s and while the population has doubled there are only 2,647 people employed in this sector today (2021).
  • More reliance on processing outside the state and distribution infrastructure: This is particularly evident in meat processing. Montana is known for animal production, cattle in particular. Even though the state has the third highest ratio of cattle to people across the U.S. most of the meat consumed in the state is imported (or re-imported) after it is finished and processed elsewhere.
  • A smaller share of the retail spending on food goes back to the farm and ranch: The farm and ranch share of the food dollar spent by consumers in 1910 was 60 percent, and today it is estimated at 16 percent.

“This report establishes an important and updated baseline for local food production and consumption in Montana,” says Maura Henn, Community Food Systems Specialist at National Center for Appropriate Technology and coordinator for Grow Montana. “Coalition members have seen on-the-ground evidence that there is less processing in state, a reliance on out-of-state processing, especially for beef, and that local farmers are getting less money for what they produce. Now we have numbers to support what we suspected, and this helps us see what is possible in terms of moving the needle toward increasing local food sales and consumption.”

In fact, the demand for local food is trending up nationally and in Montana. Sales of local edible farm products totaled nearly $12 billion in 2017 across the U.S., up from $8.7 billion in 2015. Specifically, in 2021 Montana farmers markets received $17.3 million in revenue and generated an additional $10.4 million in new spending from resident wages, tax payments, sales, and investments that occurred as a result of farmers markets.

“Visit any farmers market in the state where Dixon Melons are set up for the day,” says Henn, “and you will see the demand for local food is real! People line up around the block for a chance to buy fresh food direct from the farmer.”

Strong local food systems also provide the diversified safety net that is essential to avoid food insecurity. Current events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine, and extreme weather events demonstrate that disruptions in a highly consolidated food system will create immediate backlogs and bottlenecks to either access or the supply of food.

Grow Montana’s next steps for this study are to share the results with local communities and conferences and to get feedback on the results from Montanans. The community input and the results of the study will help the coalition develop goals and policy priorities for future legislative sessions.

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GROW MONTANA established in 2005, is a broad-based food policy coalition whose common purpose is to promote community economic development and education policies that support sustainable Montana-owned food production, processing, and distribution, and that improve all our citizens’ access to healthy Montana foods. Grow Montana is coordinated by NCAT. The coalition’s steering committee is: Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO), Community Food & Agriculture Coalition (CFAC), Land to Hand Montana, Mission West Community Development Partners, Montana Cooperative Development Center (MCDC), Montana Farmers Union (MFU), National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC).

THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY has been helping people build resilient communities through local and sustainable solutions that reduce poverty, strengthen self-reliance, and protect natural resources since 1976. Headquartered in Butte, Montana, NCAT has six regional offices in Arkansas, California, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Montana, and Texas. Learn more and become a friend of NCAT at NCAT.ORG.

 

Montana joins markets across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week August 7-13, 2022. The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the Montana Farmers Market Network encourage everyone to celebrate the “Bounty of the Big Sky” by shopping at local farmers markets this week and every week. Governor Greg Gianforte’s office also supports the celebration by officially proclaiming August 7-13, 2022 as Farmers Market Week in Montana.

“Farmers Market Week is a great time to bring attention to the bounty of locally grown products that can be purchased at farmers markets,” says Tammy Howard, Montana Farmers Market Network coordinator at NCAT. “You can find a variety of products, including fruits, vegetables, baked goods, homemade jams and jellies, handmade soaps, beef, poultry, eggs, honey, and artisan crafts at farmers markets throughout the year in many communities.”

NCAT has also released a new study completed by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research that illustrates the economic importance of Farmers Markets.

“The results of the study were really eye opening,” says Maura Henn, Community Food Systems Specialist at NCAT. “We knew farmers markets played a vital role in the Montana food system, and now we have the numbers to support what we have been seeing and hearing on the ground from farmers market managers and vendors who work so hard to make farmers markets happen in their communities every week, year after year.”

Findings from the report show:

  • 2021 Montana farmers markets generated $10.4 million in new spending and received $17.3 million in revenue showing that farmers markets are a vital component of the state’s economy.
  • Montana farmers markets provide more than 250 full-time jobs and almost 5,000 individuals work to produce the goods and services offered each week.
  • On average, a typical Montana market had 22 individual stands and required almost 70 people to put on the market which includes vendors, volunteers, and market employees.

The report can be read in full on the new Montana Farmers Market Network website, FARMERSMARKETMT.COM. This site is a new online tool for market organizers, managers, volunteers, board members, vendors, and community partners to find useful resources to keep their markets successful and thriving. Citizens can also learn more about starting a farmers market in their communities.

There are more than 70 farmers markets in Montana according to the Montana Department of Agriculture. Of those, 27 accept SNAP benefits making fresh, locally produced products accessible to more Montanans and 24 farmers markets also participate in the Double SNAP Dollars Program which matches a customer’s SNAP benefit. The Double SNAP Dollars program has served nearly 6,400 Montanans and has recirculated more than $500,00 to local farmers, ranchers, and farmers markets.

National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration of farmers markets coordinated by the Farmers Market Coalition; a membership-based nonprofit organization that supports farmers markets nationwide.

“Farmers markets are abundant sources of food, connection and resilience in our communities across the country, but they don’t just happen on their own,” said Ben Feldman, Farmers Market Coalition Executive Director. “Behind the scenes of every successful farmers market is a dedicated person or team working to make the market thrive. These farmers market operators are experts who need community and financial support to run their markets and resources specifically designed for their needs. Throughout National Farmers Market Week 2022, we will be highlighting the vital work of farmers market operators across the nation. Join us!”

To find a farmers market near you visit AERO’s Abundant Montana Directory.

Montana joins markets across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week August 1-7, 2021. The National Center for Appropriate Technology and the Montana Farmers Market Network encourages everyone to celebrate the “Bounty of the Big Sky” by shopping at local farmers markets this week and every week.

Montana’s market managers voted on the statewide farmers market week slogan Bounty of the Big Sky to celebrate the food and artisanal crafts featured at farmers markets across the state.

Bounty of the Big Sky Logo“National Farmers Market Week is a great time to bring attention to the bounty of locally grown products that can be purchased at farmers markets,” says Tammy Howard, Montana Farmers Market Network coordinator. “You can find a variety of products, including fruits, vegetables, baked goods, homemade jams and jellies, handmade soaps, beef, poultry, eggs, honey, and artisan crafts at farmers markets throughout the year in many communities.”

Amid a global pandemic, farmers markets — like all other small businesses — have innovated to continue operations for the farmers and communities that depend on them. Market managers have been at the forefront of adapting rapid solutions and innovating to protect staff, customers, and community. When conventional food supply chains failed at the start of the pandemic, farmers markets and local food systems clearly displayed the resiliency of short supply chains and interest in local foods spiked nationwide. Now, farmers markets are headed into another year of building resilience in our community and bringing people together.

There are more than 70 farmers markets in Montana according to the Montana Department of Agriculture. Of those, 24 accept SNAP benefits making fresh, locally produced products accessible to more Montanans. These farmers markets also participate in the Double SNAP Dollars Program which matches a customer’s SNAP benefit. The Double SNAP Dollars program has served nearly 6,400 Montanans and has recirculated more than $500,00 to local farmers, ranchers, and farmers markets.

National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration of farmers markets coordinated by the Farmers Market Coalition, a membership-based nonprofit organization that supports farmers markets nationwide. The Farmers Market Coalition has partnered with NCAT to coordinate a campaign that is centered around the essential role that farmers markets play in Montana’s local food systems and in developing local resilience in communities.

“In the last year farmers market operators have gone to herculean lengths to keep their markets open and to protect their communities,” said Ben Feldman, Farmers Market Coalition Executive Director. “Throughout National Farmers Market Week 2021, we will be highlighting the vital work of farmers market operators across the nation that provide a space for communities to come together around shared values and work together to change our food system.”

To find a farmers market near you visit AERO’s Abundant Montana Directory.

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The Montana Farmers Market Network is a coalition of partners coordinated by NCAT, including farmers market managers, the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition, AERO, and the Montana Department of Agriculture.

THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY has been helping people build resilient communities through local and sustainable solutions that reduce poverty, strengthen self-reliance, and protect natural resources since 1976. Headquartered in Butte, Montana, NCAT has six regional offices in Arkansas, California, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Montana and Texas. Learn more and become a friend of NCAT at NCAT.ORG.