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.

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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 leg.mt.gov/map/
  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 leg.mt.gov/web-messaging/. 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!

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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: kim@missoulacfac.org | 406.926.1004

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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 dave@farmlinkmontana.org 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.

Foothill Farm Schools Beginning Farmers on Irrigation Systems, Conservation Partnerships

By Sophie Frank

Each summer CFAC partners with Western Montana farmers to host monthly, production-oriented Farmer Field Days. Field Days are geared towards beginning farmers and ranchers, ranging from first-year farm interns, to farmers with 10 growing seasons under their belts, to community members just beginning to scheme their first farm venture. It’s a fun way to dive into agricultural topics and see a variety of farming operations while meeting and chatting with other farmers throughout the region.

Our July Field Day was hosted by Julie Pavlock at Foothill Farm in St. Ignatius, Montana. Foothill Farm recently updated their versatile irrigation system through a partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) – a branch of the USDA that helps farmers and ranchers through financial and technical assistance to implement systems that are beneficial in terms of both conservation and agriculture. Austin Allen, an NRCS Soil Conservation Technician who helped plan and install the new irrigation at Foothill, co-hosted the Field Day and talked through some of the more technical aspects of the systems.

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Julie Pavlock demonstrates the wheel line, used for irrigating the hay fields at Foothill Farm in St. Ignatius.

Foothill Farm is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation, which is home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes and consists of over 1.2 million acres of land. Water used for agriculture in this region is accessed through the century-old Flathead Indian Irrigation Project, comprised of dams, reservoirs, and canals that provide water to over 125,000 agricultural fields in the Mission Valley. Run until 2010 by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project is now jointly managed by the Flathead Joint Board of Control and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes as a coalition titled the Cooperative Management Entity (CME). As water becomes an ever more critical issue in the American West, such collaborations in water management are critical to the future of local agriculture and community resilience.

Foothill Farm is a certified organic, multi-generational family farm in the Mission Valley focusing on fresh vegetables for wholesale, seed garlic, and grass-fed beef. There are 70 acres, which include hayfields, pasture, 3 hoop houses, a propagation greenhouse, and 6 acres of vegetables. The farm also hosts chickens, milk cows, workhorses, and honey bees.

This wide diversity of production necessitates a variety of irrigation systems throughout the property, catered to the particular needs of each field. The vegetable operation uses a combination of hand line and drip irrigation, each field set for the appropriate timing and water quantity for the particular crops being grown. The hay fields utilize a mixture of wheel line and hand line, that is slowly moved throughout the acreage. Because the hay fields are also used as pasture, the timing of the irrigation system is essential to maintaining soil health. For example, a field would not be watered immediately before being used to pasture cattle in order to avoid erosion.

Foothill Farm serves as an example of both the diversity of irrigation systems within a particular irrigation district and a successful partnership with the NRCS in planning these systems.

 

Our next Field Day will be on August 15 at Fresh Roots Farm in Polson. Farmer Karl Sutton will talk about producing organic vegetable seed crops and how they have integrated seed production into their crop mix so that they have products to sell outside of the growing season. This field day is co-sponsored by the Organic Seed Alliance.

Our field days are geared toward people who are just at the beginning of their farm exploration—farm hands, interns, folks thinking about starting a farm in the near future, and those who are currently in the startup process. Of course, established farmers and ranchers are welcome too!

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Austin Allen and Julie Pavlock explain the hand line irrigation system utilized in the vegetable fields at their farm in St. Ignatius.

For more information and to register for future Field Days, visit the Farm Link Events Page.

 

7 New Double SNAP Dollars Retailers Increase Local Food Purchasing Power

In 2017, Double SNAP Dollars infused over $110,000 at 11 local food access points in Western Montana, increasing overall local food sales to $274,00 at these locations—a  44% increase in just three years!  And, a whopping 1,200 SNAP customers were able to buy more fruits and vegetables for their families from local farmers through the Double SNAP Dollars program.

This year, four farmers markets will offer Double SNAP Dollars incentives for the first time, two markets have transitioned their individual SNAP incentive programs to the collective Double SNAP Dollar brand, and one new CSA has joined the crew – which means Double SNAP Dollars is now offered state-wide and available at 17 total locations!

We know that if we support one another, our community thrives. There is evidence in the growth of partnerships across private, public, and government agencies that increased individual and family health can be outcomes of healthy and local food purchases. What we fuel our body with does indeed have an effect on our physical, mental and spiritual health. We invite you to check out all the new locations where Double SNAP Dollars is available, and donate to support Double SNAP Dollar incentives and food access for communities across Montana.

1. Healthy By Design Gardner’s Market, Billings The Healthy By Design Gardner’s Market is designed to bring healthy, fresh, local, and affordable fruits and vegetables to the community. The market is also a social meeting place to celebrate health and nutrition. Healthy By Design is partnering with Billings Parks, Recreation, and Public Lands to bring the market to the South Park. The Gardeners’ Market is located in South Park on the corner of South 28th Street and Sixth Avenue South in Billings, MT. The season runs from the second week of June through the first week in October, Thursdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The market now offers a $10 Double SNAP Dollar match.

2. Eureka Farmers Market The Eureka Farmers Market features locally-grown fresh produce as well as Made in Montana handicrafts, and patrons enjoy a park setting with live music. The Eureka Farmers Market is open Wednesdays 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., May 16th through September 19th. They offer a $10 Double SNAP match.

Eureka Farmers Market

The Eureka Farmers Market is one of seven new Double SNAP Dollars retailers in 2018. The market is open Wednesdays 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., May 16th through September 19th,  and they offer a $10 Double SNAP match.

3. Mission Falls Market, St. Ignatius The Mission Falls Market seeks to organize a platform in which direct circular economic opportunities for local farmers and ranchers, artisans, and crafters grow, while also providing a space for community dialogue and civic engagement within St. Ignatius. The market runs every Friday from 5-7 p.m. until October 5th on the corner of Hwy. 93 and Mountain View in St. Ignatius. They offer a $5 Double SNAP Dollar match.

4. Kalispell Farmers Market The Kalispell Farmers Market runs from Saturday, May 7th -October 14th at the Flathead Valley Community College campus. This is their first year being SNAP certified and offering a $10 Double SNAP Dollar match.

5. Troy Farmers Market The Troy Farmers Market takes place on the beautiful grounds of the Troy Museum (700 E. Missoula Ave.) on Hwy 2 in the middle of Troy. After visiting the farmers market, you can take a walk on the nature path, try your hand at frisbee golf or throw rocks into the cold and clear Callahan Creek that flows past the museum. Stop by the market from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Fridays in June, July, August, and September, and help support the effort to Eat Fresh and Eat Local! The market is sponsored by the Yaak Valley Forest Council. The market now offers a $10 Double SNAP Dollar match.

6. River Valley Farmers Market, Hardin The River Valley Farmers Market combines the traditional farmers market with health and wellness promotion in a new way. Their goal is to increase access to local fresh food, promote local businesses, highlight local artisans, promote physical activity, support community engagement, provide health education, and connect families to needed services. Products and vendors include fruit and vegetable vendors, baked goods, prepared healthy foods, arts and crafts, community health service representatives, immunizations, dental information, tobacco cessation services, learning and movement games for children, and parent support activities. They offer a $10 Double SNAP Dollar match.

7. Glacier Tilth CSA Shares, Dixon  Glacier Tilth is a certified organic vegetable farm in the beautiful Jocko Valley of Northwest Montana. Their vision is to provide customers with a bounty of high-quality produce, sold direct through our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription program. They also wholesale to local stores and restaurants as members of the Western Montana Growers Cooperative. This year SNAP customers were offered 50% off their CSA share (up to $200). All shares are currently full.