Website for Food and Ag Summit Launched, Registration Opens
In June 2015, the Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition decided to plan an event focused on local food systems in the state. That initial idea has grown into the 2016 Governor's Food and Agriculture Summit. Grow Montana and its partners continue planning the event, which will be held on October 28-29 in Bozeman on the Montana State University campus. The Summit will provide an opportunity for Montanans who care about the state's food economy to come together, share information, and strategize about the next 10 years of work in the state.
The Summit's website launched recently, which also signaled the beginning of registration for the event. There is an early-bird discount for folks registering before August 31. In addition to individuals signing up for the Summit at the website, businesses and other entities can find information about sponsoring the event. There are numerous sponsorship opportunities available, and more details can be found here.
The website also contains descriptions of the five topical tracks that form the basis for the Summit. Attendees will choose one topic and remain in that track during the event to help identify challenges that exist and brainstorm ways to address them. The tracks will be a mixture of panel presentations, small group discussions, and attendees prioritizing next steps. All of the tracks will report out their top recommendations at the Summit's conclusion.
One feature of the website helps link the upcoming Summit to the one convened nine years ago by former Governor Brian Schweitzer. A video produced after the 2007 event examines the need for and challenges of creating vibrant local food systems in Montana at that time. The 2016 Summit will reflect on the progress made since 2007, while also determining what work still needs to be done.
The Summit website will continue to be updated with the latest information, so keep an eye on it at https://foodsummit.ncat.org/. For more background regarding the Summit, please see this article.
Madison Musings: 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
The National Farm to School Network hosted the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, in June. The three-day conference consisted of field trips, intensive short-courses, workshops, networking, and inspiring speakers. It brought together a diverse group of farm to school champions – from farmers and educators to nonprofit leaders and food service directors. The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Farm to School program generously provided financial support for five Montana representatives to attend the conference this year, including: Stacey Peterson, Boulder Elementary School teacher; Lisa Giulio, Boulder School District food service director; Al Kurki, NCAT program specialist; Mallory Stefan, FoodCorps Montana fellow; and Kelsie Larson, FoodCorps Montana service member.
The conference theme, "Moving Forward Together," created an atmosphere of teamwork, collaboration, and support for farm to school efforts across the country. Stacey Peterson particularly enjoyed the collaborative approach to farm to school, bringing back home "strategies to get all school staff, community members and students involved in the school garden." During her video address, First Lady Michelle Obama commended the nation's school food reform efforts and continued commitment to public health. Keynote speaker Dr. Ricardo Salvador, senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program with the Union of Concerned Scientists, called for a shift in the American food system's pattern of exploitation and racism. Keynote speakers urged the 1,040 conference attendees to apply a social justice lens to their farm to cafeteria work.
The true hands-on learning took place in the dynamic workshops throughout the conference. Kelsie Larson learned that it is better overall (for the school, students, staff and farmers) to purchase one local item consistently and make it a staple menu item as an entry into farm to school local procurement in school districts. Al Kurki focused on the farm to institution track, and discovered that hospitals large and small are making farm to hospital work well— saving money and improving food quality.
Perhaps one of the most important lessons learned was that farm to school is truly a team effort. Everyone has a role in the farm to school movement, and it takes a tremendous amount of communication and understanding between community members, students, staff, farmers, parents, and administration to connect kids to healthy food. The Montana representatives were all first-time conference attendees, and gleaned an immense amount of knowledge to bring back to our respective communities. As Stacey Peterson put it, "I am so blessed to have been a part of such an important movement!"
Upcoming Sprouting Success Conference
Happy Summer! We at the Farm to Cafeteria Network hope you are enjoying plenty of sunshine, time in the garden, and the fresh, local produce that is abundant this time of year. We invite you to take just a few minutes out of your summertime activities to read about the upcoming Montana Farm to School Summit: Sprouting Success, to be held in Bozeman on September 22 and 23. Trace a school meal from field to tray or visit a school garden, hear from nationally renowned school lunch advocate Chef Ann Cooper, and share your stories of farm to school success. Register today; you don't want to miss it!
The 2016 Montana Farm to School Summit is hosted by Montana Team Nutrition Program, Montana State University, Montana Office of Public Instruction, Gallatin Valley Farm to School, Montana Department of Agriculture, Montana Roots, National Center for Appropriate Technology, and other statewide partners. As a follow-up to the 2012 statewide farm to school conference, the Summit promises to be both inspiring and instructive. Keynote speaker Chef Ann Cooper will provide a national view on how schools can improve their meals to support healthy kids and sustainable agriculture. (You can learn more about Chef Ann and the Chef Ann Foundation here.) Montana farm to school champions will share stories of success, and there will be time for networking and swapping strategies and tips among conference attendees.
In addition to stories of schools and communities "sprouting success," pre-conference workshops and field trips and the breakout sessions during the conference are designed to build specific skills, such as tying school gardens to curriculum, efficiently preparing fresh and whole foods for school meals, and promoting your farm to school program through social media.
Continuing education credits are available for teachers, school food service professionals, and early care and education providers. The conference has something for everyone interested in farm to school: school food service, teachers, school administrators, food producers, preschool and childcare providers, parents, community members, and support organizations. Conference organizer Aubree Roth explains the draw for some of these farm to school stakeholders:
"Producers can come and learn about the process and opportunities for working with schools as well as make connections with potential buyers and partners at schools. A parent can explore their role and find out how they can help build a farm to school or school garden program at their child's school and how they can support existing programs in their communities. A teacher or principal can get actual lessons and connections to educational standards for farm to school activities."
The 2016 Montana Farm to School Summit will also be a wonderful opportunity for all stakeholders to learn about the Montana Harvest of the Month program. Harvest of the Month breakout sessions will prepare schools and afterschool programs to participate in the program and school representatives will be able to register and pick up materials on site.
Mark your calendar for September 22-23, 2016, at Montana State University in Bozeman and register here today!
For more information about the Farm to School Summit, contact: Aubree Roth, Montana Farm to School Coordinator at email@example.com or (406) 994-5996.
SWISS CHARD WRAPS
Adapted by Mallory Stefan from a HonestFare.com collard wrap recipe.
Preparation and cook time: 20 minutes
- 8 large Swiss chard leaves
- Veggies of choice (avocado, sliced tomatoes, radishes, sprouts, etc.)
- Chickpea beet spread
- 10 oz. soaked or canned garbanzo beans
- ½ medium sized beet
- 2 carrots, peeled
- Juice from one lemon
- 2 tablespoons tahini (or other seed / nut butter)
- 3 teaspoons olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
- Few sprigs fresh parsley
- ¼ fresh garlic clove
- Place carrots into food processor and pulse until consistency of rolled oats. Remove and set aside. Put garbanzo beans, beets, parsley, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice in food processor and pulse until creamy. Add a little water, one tablespoon at a time, if necessary to thin a little. Scrape sides of food processor and add salt (1/4 teaspoon), some pepper, tahini, and agave and pulse again a few times. Taste and add any additional salt or pepper. Fold in carrots until well combined. Place in fridge to chill.
- Trim the stalks of the chard leaves. Soak leaves in warm water and vinegar bath for a few minutes to clean and bring to room temperature. Dry leaves completely.
- Each wrap will require two leaves for rolling. Place two leaves head to foot (with stalks at opposite ends) and overlapping about halfway. Apply a good amount of spread at the center where the two leaves overlap and pile up veggies of your choice. Fold in sides and tightly roll like a burrito. Leave whole if traveling or saving for later, but cut through center before eating.