The amazing humulus lupulus

Hop Flower_ilAh, how we love our humulus lupulus. No tailgate or barbecue would be the same without it and would Germany continue to exist without its homage to this vining herb every October? From home brews to trendy microbreweries, they all depend on the powdered, pungent resin of this delicate orb, the hops. And long before IPA’s, pale ales and lagers were in every tavern across the continent, the hop plant was widely used as a traditional herbal medicine, highly valued for its nervine qualities or its ability to help people relax.

Sources found on the American Herbal Council website cite the varieties of ways hops have been used medicinally by various peoples around the world. Hops historic use as flavor and preserving agent in beer were well known from the middle ages. Its use as a sleep aid and for other ailments varied from region to region or group to group and were not consistently practiced.

According to an article by Rosalee de la Forêt, “The first recorded use of hops for beer comes from a monastery in northern France in 822 CE. Some surmise that hops were a desired ingredient in monastery beer because of their ability to inhibit sexual desire.

Several hundred years later, hops were being actively cultivated in Germany for beer. Years later in Europe, it was declared that hops were a required ingredient in beer. This may have been for reasons of taxation, but  in addition to adding flavor, hops also stabilize beer, giving it a much longer shelf life.” (See her complete article on Hops here.)

Even today, scientists are pulling apart the various properties attributed historically to hops and testing its efficacy not only on sleep disorders but also as a digestive aid for the bitters quality, a blood purifier, to treat anorexia and various estrogen-linked problems, and even as a cure for baldness! 

These aren’t the reasons we usually find ourselves ordering up a growler at the local brew pub or taking home a six pack. We’re in search of that unique experience of the pungent and slightly bitter flavor created by the varieties of hops and their growing conditions.

You can learn so much more about hops and how it’s grown here in the Bitterroot Valley by joining us on our final Farm Field Day of 2019 at Bell Crossing Farms in Stevensville, MT. There will even be a chance to purchase one of the brands created from their hops. (If you want to buy extra to add to your shampoo, we won’t tell.)


2019-20 AmericorpsVISTA – Yvonne Scott

Hello Missoula! This is my third AmericorpsVISTA service year and I’m excited to be serving with CFAC as the Outreach and Engagement Coordinator. And just as excited to be in Montana, a place that’s been on my radar for quite awhile.

My answer to the question ‘where did you move from?’ is not a one-word answer. My permanent mailing address is in Albuquerque, where I lived for about 20 years after leaving my home state of Illinois and my farm. Long answer: after a year of grad school at the University of New Mexico, I went through a number of professional incarnations from domestic violence advocate services, English language tutoring, establishing my own landscape business, to managing an estate, house director for a sorority and other jobs too numerous to mention. I also spent several years working and gardening in the stunning Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina, and a year each in Kentucky and Kansas with VISTA. I’m proud to say I’ve lived in every K state in America.

What brought me to VISTA is a life-long belief in giving back. My brother and I were raised to understand that regardless of how it felt to us at the time, we had to share whatever resources we had because, as my mother frequently reminded us, “there is always someone less well off than we are.” I’ve been a food and hunger activist and environmental troublemaker most of my adult life with causes and organizations that pull me across the continent and sometimes the world.

While I’m not the typical age of a VISTA, that, for me is an advantage, as I am free to chose assignments where I can share what I’ve learned–skills, experiences, knowledge–as well as acquiring new skills and living experiences each time. Working with CFAC will certainly provide new avenues for exploring non-profit development and strengthening funding options. I enjoy our homey office and the enormous passion and dedication of this very small staff to the various programs under our roof. I look forward to meeting up with more of our farmers and ranchers as well as all the great organizations supporting food security in this area.

When I’m not out exploring along US 93 for hiking trails and new vistas, I’m working on another book, learning more about native herbs, looking for new dance venues and camping in the pleasure of the big night sky…until the weather changes as I’ve been cautioned to expect could be soonVISTA pic. Guess it’s time to invest in some Muck Boots. Coffee anyone?

Voice your support for food access by backing HB400!

Montana-Helena-Montana-State-Capitol-Building-1440x954HB400 requests state funding to support the Double SNAP Dollars (DSD) Program, which helps food-insecure Montanans afford more fresh, local produce by doubling the purchasing power of their SNAP benefits. For every dollar spent on SNAP-eligible foods at participating farmers markets or farm shares, SNAP recipients receive an extra dollar to spend on fresh, local produce.


HB400 will provide financial stability for DSD and help expand the program to more locations across the state. This will help more Montanans have access to fresh, local foods and boost incomes for hard-working Montana farmers! Here are some of the ways DSD has already made an impact:

  • Since 2015, over 3,000 Montanans used the Double SNAP Dollars program, resulting in $350,000 spent on local foods and increasing farmers’ income.
  • Since the implementation of the program, farmers market SNAP sales in Missoula increased by 13%. Rural markets saw a sales increase of nearly 100%.
  • Daily fruit and vegetable consumption among most surveyed DSD customers increased because of their participation in the program.

MT-capitol-floorSo far, the bill has passed through the House Human Services Committee and its first House floor vote! Next up, it must pass through the House Appropriations Committee, where the bill is awaiting a rescheduled hearing date. You can track its progress through the bill lookup on the Montana Legislature website.

We are excited by all the support HB400 has received so far, but there is still more work to do for it to pass!

Want to help? Contact your representatives and voice your support for HB400! Here’s how:

  1. Find your House Representative at
  2. Does your Representative sit on the House Appropriations Committee?
    If yes: Call or Email your Representative and urge him/her to support HB 400, focusing on why this would be a good use of state funds. You can use our Double SNAP Dollars Fact Sheet to come up with your talking points.
    If no: Leave a message or email for the full House Appropriations Committee at Choose to send your message to a Committee and pick House Appropriations from the dropdown. You can use our Double SNAP Dollars Fact Sheet to come up with your talking points.
  3. Share this blog post with fellow supporters and urge them to contact their Representative!

Interested in learning more about advocacy and how the state legislature works? Check out this Advocacy Toolkit from the Montana Partnership to End Childhood Hunger for some great info on advocating for bills in the 2019 Montana State Legislature Session!

Applications Open to Start a Double SNAP Dollars Program

Did you know that the number of sites offering Double SNAP Dollars has tripled since we started the program in 2015? It’s true! Four locations in Missoula first offered Double SNAP Dollars in 2015 and just last year 17 sites participated in the program.

We’re excited to continue expanding this valuable network of sites that are increasing food access and enhancing local agriculture in Montana! CFAC is now accepting applications from farmers, farmers markets, and independent grocery stores that sell local produce and would like to begin offering Double SNAP Dollars in 2019.

Download this RFA for more details. Contact Kim Gilchrist, Food Access Program Manager with any questions: | 406.926.1004

RFA-Double SNAP Dollars-2019-1

Intern with CFAC this Fall!

Want to help Montana’s beginning farmers grow successful, sustainable businesses?  Want to learn about how to develop new resources, plan educational opportunities, host events, and evaluate programs?  CFAC is looking for an intern for this fall/winter to assist with our Beginning Farmer and Rancher program, including:

  • Coordinating communication and resource sharing between a network of farm and ranch trainers across the state of Montana. This project will provide an opportunity to learn about a wide variety of programs and resources for beginning farmers and to network with service providers.
  • Coordinating with farmers across Montana to promote on-farm training opportunities through the Farm Link Montana Work Link listings.

This position is a great opportunity to learn about and connect with farmers and farm support organizations across Montana. Work can be done remotely, though some office time will be required.

Note: you will not be expected to lead these projects, but will have the opportunity to assist in development and management as appropriate. As an intern, you will have the opportunity to assist with multiple projects.  We can offer a $1,000 stipend to an intern who is able to offer 10-20 hours/week between September and January.

To apply, email with your resume and a note on your interest in the projects and any additional relevant information not covered in your resume.  We will be reviewing applications on a rolling basis with a planned intern start date the first week of October.