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Amy teachingHappy March to you all! We are pleased to bring you this edition of the Dirt newsletter and to report on positive progress from the legislature, the launch of a statewide Harvest of the Month pilot program and an upcoming training on selling local food to institutions, as well as feature another fabulous blog entry from one of our FoodCorps service members. We hope you will take the time to read about these NCAT endeavors, and please don't hesitate to reach out for more information regarding any of our programs and projects. We love to hear from you!

All the best,
The Montana Healthy Food and Communities Initiative Team

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Harvest of the Month Pilot Program Kicks Off

Child with beet

Missoula students explore a beet during a February Harvest of the Month activity.

"I don't want the pudding, I'm eating beets so I can be healthy!" If you are a parent, food service director, cook, or nutrition educator, chances are these words would be music to your ears, especially coming from a young student. This is exactly what was overheard by a school cook in Hinsdale, MT, one of eleven sites around the state that are participating in the pilot of the Montana Harvest of the Month program. Read on to learn all about the Harvest of the Month pilot program and plans for expansion in the coming year.

Montana Food News

"Selling to Institutional Markets: Strategies and Considerations for Montana Producers" training webinar coming up on March 26 at 11:00 a.m.

Are you a local producer looking to expand your opportunities into wholesale and institutional markets in Montana? If so, check out NCAT's live training webinar on Thursday, March 26. During this webinar, the University of Montana Farm to College Program will provide information and technical assistance to Montana farmers, ranchers, and food processors interested in accessing larger foodservice markets. Participants will learn what institutions look for when sourcing local food, methods for approaching buyers, supplier best practices, food safety considerations, and other tips and tricks for partnering with institutions for wholesale success. The webinar will be followed with time to ask questions of a panel of experts from the field, including buyers from the school and hospital markets, the state Farm to School Coordinator, and an organization experienced with selling to institutions. Don't miss it! Register here.

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Cottage Food Finding Support in Montana Legislature

With one local producer calling it a gift from heaven, the bill to establish cottage food in Montana is finding plenty of support at the Capitol in Helena. House Bill 478 culminates two years of work by the Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition, which wants to expand economic opportunities for home-based food businesses and entrepreneurs. At its hearing before the House Agriculture Committee, HB 478 found producers, public health officers, and state agencies testifying in favor of it, and the bill drew no opponents. The committee sent HB 478 to the full House of Representatives by a 21-1 vote. Read on for the latest updates regarding the bill's progress in the legislature.

HB 478

HB 478 testifiers from left to right: Jim Murphy, Montana DPHHS; Nancy Matheson, NCAT Consultant; Joyce Previte, Owner of Grandma Hoot Products; Jan Tusick, Grow Montana Steering Committee Member; Rep. Kathleen Williams, sponsor of HB 478.


Food CorpsTeaching Kids Will Make You a Better Farmer

"I know a little bit about most things. For example, I understand the big picture of how a car works, but not well enough to break it down simply, put it in layman's terms and be able to fully explain it to someone -- let alone a child. I think true understanding of a concept or system should be measured by your ability to put it in its simplest terms. Throughout my FoodCorps service, I have been continuously pushed to better understand concepts related to life science, farming, and the food that we eat." So writes Olivia DeJohn, FoodCorps service member in Ronan and Polson. Read on.

Featured Recipe: Sloppy Joe on a Roll

This recipe incorporates three of Montana's top agriculture products—beef, wheat, and lentils! It comes from the March Harvest of the Month pilot program materials highlighting beef. This recipe is adapted from the Montana's Healthy School Recipe Roundup, which was developed by the Montana Team Nutrition Program.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 cup onions, raw, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp catsup
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar, distilled
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder/dry
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup uncooked lentils
  • 2 oz mild green chili peppers, canned, drained
  • 2 tsp garlic, raw, minced
  • 6 whole wheat buns

  1. Add lentils and 1 cup water (do not add salt) to a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 25-40 minutes (depending on variety). Add additional water if lentils begin to dry out while cooking. Lentils should be tender and cooked completely through. Drain excess water. Puree lentils in a food processor. If using red lentils, cook for less time, between 10-20 minutes. Red lentils do not need to be pureed. Set aside.
  2. Brown ground beef, drain.
  3. Add onions and minced garlic to cooked ground beef. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add pureed lentils to beef mixture. Add tomato paste, catsup, water, vinegar, mustard, pepper, green chilies, and brown sugar. Mix well and simmer for 25-30 minutes, making sure to heat to 155° F or higher.
  5. Scoop beef mixture onto buns and serve immediately.

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Thanks to the Foundation for Healthy Montanans for its support.
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Copyright © March 2015
The National Center for Appropriate Technology

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