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Spring is just around the corner, and we have been busy preparing for it!  From the Harvest of the Month program to promoting local foods, NCAT's team of specialists is laying the groundwork to help local producers and local consumers. Read all about it in this month's issue of the Montana Dirt!

Thanks for your interest.  And don't forget to subscribe if you haven't already, so you continue to get this important news. 


NCAT's Montana Healthy Food and Communities Initiative Team
~Al Kurki, Demetrius Fassas, Travis McAdam, and Mallory Stefan

abundant AERO

Great Advertising for Producers

The Farm to Cafeteria Network maintains a database on our webpage of both producers and institutions that are engaged in local procurement. Currently, we’re working in collaboration with Alternative Energy Resource Organization's (AERO) Abundant Montana project to combine our mapping efforts and generate one comprehensive service. A go-to resource for farmer’s markets, sustainable agriculture and businesses, and agritourism opportunities, Abundant Montana contains around 300 listings (and growing!) from across the state. Learn more about this service here.

Local Foods Day in Helena

The Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition is partnering with the Montana Farm to School Leadership Team to hold an event at the Montana Capitol in Helena on Monday, March 27. "Local Food Day at the Capitol" is geared toward showing the impact of Montana-grown food on the state’s economy, health, and communities. Click here for more details or e-mail for more information.

Spotlight on Yellowstone Grassfed Beef

Montana Yellowstone Grassfed Beef

As we round the corner into March, schools across the state that are participating in the Montana Harvest of the Month program are looking to Montana ranchers and processors for local beef. March is beef month, a fabulous time to highlight the beef producers that live all around this state. One such producer is Yellowstone Grassfed Beef, and they’re doing a wonderful job of using Beef Month to get healthy, locally grown beef into Montana schools through the Harvest of the Month Program. Read about their operation and commitment to working with local institutions here.

"Turnip the Beet"

FoodCorps service members dropped the "beet" this month in honor of Harvest of the Month: Beets. Across the state, service members taught students about the health benefits of beets, painted with beet juice, made Valentine's Day cards with beet stamps, baked beet cake, and served beet-filled meals on cafeteria trays.

In Polson, the FoodCorps service member used the Harvest of the Month mini-grant award to increase student engagement in taste testing. Service member Lexie Gallegos writes, "This month, students from the Family and Consumer Science classes made informational table tents for the cafeteria, passed out samples of fresh beet sticks, and conducted voting. Because of these student leaders, we had an incredibly positive response and increased participation!"

beet sticks

Featured Recipe

Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Glaze


  • 5 medium beets (or enough for 2 cups pureed beets)
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Beet Glaze - recipe follows


Trim stems and roots from beets. Quarter and place in a large saucepan filled with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 50 minutes, or until beets are tender. Drain and reserve cooking liquid for the glaze. Remove skins from beets and place them in a food processor and process until pureed. Set aside 1 tablespoon of puree for the glaze. You will need 2 cups puree for the cake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9” round baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and the remaining beet puree.

In a separate bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir into the beet batter until well combined. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan before removing to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Beet Glaze

  • ¾ cup (75 g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon reserved beet puree
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons canned beet juice or beet juice used while cooking beets

Prepare the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, reserved beet puree, and roughly 1 teaspoon of the canned beet juice. If the glaze is too thick, add an additional teaspoon of beet juice at a time until the glaze is thin enough to drizzle from a spoon. Drizzle the cooled cake with the glaze in a zigzag motion (or in one layer). Allow the glaze to set before slicing.

Cake can be wrapped well and stored at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.


Montana Healthcare Foundation Special thanks to the Montana Healthcare Foundation for its generous support.

The work upon which this newsletter is based was funded, in whole or in part, through a grant awarded by the Montana Healthcare Foundation. The statements and conclusions of this newsletter are those of the Grantee and not necessarily those of the Montana Healthcare Foundation. The Montana Healthcare Foundation makes no warranties, express or implied, and assumes no liability for the information contained in the succeeding text.

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Copyright © March 2017
The National Center for Appropriate Technology

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