CSA Season Brings These Bounties to Your Table

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What’s a CSA you might be wondering? The acronym stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It’s a program that gets community members involved with farms.

[If you’re already familiar with CSAs, scroll down to read about our highlighted CSA programs. If you’re not already familiar, read on!]

Traditionally, community members would sign up for a farm share at the beginning of the season. This would provide farmers with early-season cash to buy seeds and other necessities to get the growing season started.  Community members are then provided with a bounty of farm-fresh produce every week from the farm’s harvest (usually less at the beginning of the season and more later on).

This system connects farmer and community member in sharing both the risks and rewards of local food production. Risks: you never know what the weather will bring and how it will affect crop production. Rewards: fresh, local produce, the opportunity to try new foods or new varieties of produce, and a more personal connection to the farmer and local foodshed.

As the CSA marketplace has evolved, so have CSA programs. Many programs offer other experiences, such as on- or off-farm pickup, bi-weekly deliveries, pay-as-you-go, pick-your-own shares, winter season shares, or opportunities to participate in farm activities such as harvest days, outdoor meals, or even dance parties.

If you enjoy experimenting with new foods and recipes, want a healthy supply of local produce all summer long, and don’t particularly like to get up early on a Saturday morning to get to the farmers market – a CSA might be what you’re looking for!

Just as exciting, many CSA programs are starting to accept SNAP payments (SNAP was formerly known as the food stamp program). SNAP customers simply make installment payments from their Montana Access EBT cards each month during the summer.

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If you enjoy experimenting with new foods and recipes, want a healthy supply of local produce all summer long, and don’t particularly like to get up early on a Saturday morning to get to the farmers market – a CSA might be what you’re looking for!

DSD-Box-Logo-LargeHere, we highlight three CSA programs that not only accept SNAP but are a part of the Double SNAP Dollars program – which means SNAP customers receive half-off a CSA share price, up to a $200 maximum. Just contact one of the friendly CSA coordinators/farmers to find out more information and see if their CSA is right for you!


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Western Montana Growers Cooperative (WMGC) : WMGC headquarters is based in Missoula but is a collective of over 30 farmers, ranchers, and local food producers in Western Montana. Their CSA shares include vegetables and fruits from a number of their members’ farms, all who are either certified Organic or Homegrown (a local peer-certified alternative to organic certification).

Offerings: 26 weeks of fruits and vegetables in Full and Regular summer shares; Fall shares; Add-on shares including meat, cheese, milk, bread, coffee, eggs. Plus, they offer an opportunity to buy additional locally-grown products at discounted prices, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, cheese, milk, eggs, beef, pork, chickens, lentils, barley, honey, soap and more.
Price Points: $390 – $570, plus early bird discounts and payment plans; ($195 – $370 for produce shares for Double SNAP Customers!)
Pick-ups: Starting end of May; Thursday evenings in Missoula, Victor, Stevensville, Lolo, St. Ignatius, Polson, Ronan, Charlo, Dixon, and Arlee; Fridays in Butte and Helena
Contact: Amy: 406.544.6135 |csa@wmgcoop.com

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Missoula Grain and Vegetable Company: Is a diversified vegetable farm located in Stevensville operated by Max, Kenny, and Katelyn. They’ve been farming for years, but have been settled on their land in Stevi since 2016 and became Organic-certified in 2017.

Offerings: 21 weeks of Vegetables in Quarter, Full, Large and Free Choice summer shares; Winter Shares
Price Points: $147 – $735, plus early bird discounts and payment plans; ($73.50 – $325 for produce shares for Double SNAP Customers!)
Pick-ups: Starting End of May; Saturday mornings at the Clark Fork Market in Missoula Stevensville Farmers Market, or Hamilton Farmers Market; Tuesday evenings at the Missoula Farmers Market
Contact: Max: 406.214.6664 (text or call)

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Glacier Tilth Farm : Is a certified organic vegetable farm located in the small town of Dixon in the Jocko Valley of Northwest Montana. The farm is operated by Anna and Matthew, who have been farming for years and are in their second season of production on their leased land in Dixon.

Offerings: 20 weeks of Vegetables in Small or Full summer shares; Egg Shares
Price Points: $300 – $500, plus early bird discounts and payment plans; ($150 – $300 produce shares for Double SNAP Customers!)
Pick-ups: Starting mid-June; Friday evenings at the Mission Falls Market in St. Ignatius; Saturday mornings on the farm in Dixon; Tuesday evenings at Missoula Friends Meeting
Contact: Anna: 615.806.0714 | glaciertilthfarm@gmail.com

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Introducing Tori Managan, CFAC’s Farm Business Finance and Grants Management Specialist!

Tori Managan - PictureWe’re excited to introduce CFAC’s newest staff member, Tori Managan! Tori hails from Vermont, and she’s thrilled to be in “the wild west,” meeting Montana farmers and helping them succeed. We interviewed Tori to share more about her with all of you. Enjoy!

Q: What does it mean to you to be proud of a place?

A: I’m very, very proud to be a Vermonter. In Vermont, you’re not allowed to call yourself a Vermonter unless you have 3 generations back; I’m a 9th generation Vermonter, and I still have family that are farming there. I’m here to see where life takes me, but I know where my roots are, and I’m very proud to be from Vermont and I’m very proud of my family, and I don’t want to lose that.

Q: Tell us about your family’s farming business.

A: My cousin has a dairy farm and he has beef cows. They do logging, maple syrup, and hay. He’s going through succession planning. He has 2 farms right now. After he graduated from college, he had different views of ag than his father; he wanted to do more grass-raised beef. So he ended up buying a farm down the road from his father so he could farm the way he wanted to. I’m not even sure where he learned about sustainable farming practices, but he just did it and went for it.

Q: Do you think your cousin influenced your perspectives on agriculture?

A: Definitely. When I was a little girl I grew up going to his parent’s farm. I don’t know if I would pick up on that when I was a girl. It wasn’t until later when I was learning about soil and water quality, drawn to the details of ag, and he definitely shaped my perspectives. I just have a lot of respect for farmers and ranchers; it’s really hard work and very labor intensive and you don’t make a lot of money from it. It’s just a way of life.

Q: Are your siblings also involved?

A: My brother is marketing Cabot cheese, and my cousin sold milk to the Cabot cooperative. That’s the other thing; we were often able to collaborate and work together. I’m very proud of him. My sister lives in Houston, TX. She works for a wholesale grocer.

Q: What is your Myers-Briggs Personality Type?

A: I’ve never done the Myers-Briggs, but I have done others; I absolutely love that sort of thing. I can tell you that I’m an implementer, empathetic, and a learner.

Q: What is important to you about team-building?

A: It goes back to Myers-Briggs model; knowing that everyone has different strengths, and being mindful that we all bring something different to the table. I also really like the model of teamwork and going through different phases, and trying to facilitate a team to be high-performing.

Q: What is your best team-building memory?

A: I remember in grad school, we were doing an activity around diversity. We were a small cohort so we got to know each other really well. During the activity, one girl in our cohort was really attached to details; everyone was getting super frustrated and upset because we couldn’t move past the beginning of the activity. We were not a high-performing team.  The second semester we were in a class and I was in a group with the same girl. We had to build a tower made of notecards. We were competing against the other team, who was also building a tower. The winner’s tower had to be the tallest but it also had to be able to stand for a long period of time. I remember stopping her at one point and I said “DO YOU TRUST ME?” and we got past the details, and we built the tower, and it still stands today. After that exercise, we became a high-functioning team.

Q: How did you get interested in sustainability?

A: I spent 3 months WWOOFing in New Zealand. It was a cheap way to travel the country while gaining hands-on experience with farming. Prior to that, I didn’t even know the word sustainability. I spent 3 months going to homesteads and farms, and I learned so much about how to have a small impact on the Earth. It seems crazy because Vermont is such a progressive state, but I wasn’t really tapped into that network when I was there. After I got back to the States, I wanted to make an impact here.

Q: What is it about farming that you believe makes an impact on sustainability?

A: I believe ag is the backbone of our society. I also believe ag gives a location a sense of community; people surround themselves with agriculture. By supporting local farms, you’re also supporting your local community in terms of economy. It’s all just so interesting to me: how do we improve the soil? How do we get good food to people who need it? To me, sustainability revolves around agriculture; everything revolves around agriculture.

I believe ag is the backbone of our society. I also believe ag gives a location a sense of community; people surround themselves with agriculture.

Q: What is it that you’re most excited to learn?

A: Vermont has beef cows, but we don’t have it on the same scale; beef producer probably has 20 cows. I’m most excited to learn, not necessarily about cattle ranches, but the scale of farming and the different ag practices you need to use in this environment. I want to learn why it is people are doing things the way they’re doing, and how we can make it a more sustainable model.

Q: What is it that you’re most excited to share?

A: My knowledge. I think the exciting thing about coming to Missoula and coming to this organization is learning from each other. Western Montana and Vermont are really similar in a lot of ways but there are also a lot of things we can share with one another.

Q: What has been your most exciting discovery about Missoula so far?

A: Goodwill! Thrift store shopping. I’m so excited to learn that there are good thrift stores here. Since I have visited before, I got hiking in already. I love hiking…but I LOVE thrift stores.

Q: What would you do with one million dollars?

A: I would pay off my immediate family’s and friends’ debt…and probably buy a ranch.

Q: What would you do with your ranch?

A: I’d want a diversified farm and ranch. I’d love to keep honeybees, sheep, chickens, veggies. I’m very interested in vermiculture.

Q: Favorite way to spend a Saturday?

A: How about a Sunday? I’ve historically always worked Saturdays. Favorite way to start a Sunday is slow, with coffee in bed. Getting some outdoor activity in. I’m always trying to plan and prepare for the following Monday for an easy transition to the work week. It’s like a mental health day.

Q: If Vermont were a song, which one would it be?

A: Country Road, Take Me Home

Q: If Montana were a song, which one would it be?

A: Ooooooo! Someone was telling me about this song called Montana by Frank Zappa.

Q: have you met any Montana farmers yet?

A: Yes! I met a girl who does vermiculture at her ranch near Billings, so I’m really excited to go see her.

Q: What is one thing you want people to know about you?

A: I’m really passionate about helping to promote local agricultural products, and helping people succeed.

 

You can contact Tori at tori@missoulacfac.org 

 

 

Local-Food-Fueled Philadelphia 76ers Win Before Taking the Court

By Dave Renn, Beginning Farmer & Rancher Program Manager

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The NBA playoffs are upon us! Sadly, my beloved Portland Trailblazers lost their opening game to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Meanwhile, the local-food-fueled Philadelphia 76ers are even in their series with the Miami Heat. Local-food-fueled?! You read that right! Back in March, Kevin Arnovitz at ESPN took a behind-the-scenes look at Philadelphia’s kitchen and their approach to player nutrition. If you’re a local food fan looking for a team to root for this spring, the 76ers might be for you.

Take a minute to read the article and check out the photo gallery!

If you’re a local food fan looking for a team to root for this spring, the 76ers might be for you.

Executive chef JaeHee Cho auditioned for his post with the 76ers using a menu that aimed to “creatively use every part of a chicken.” He serves the team Gatorade cups filled with bone broth during their film sessions, and beets have become a game-day hit among players and staff.

In a profession that demands the utmost athleticism from some of the biggest bodies on the planet, Cho knows that the source of food matters.  He told Arnovitz, “Where food comes from and how it’s grown and the care into raising livestock or tending the soil, I feel like that has a direct effect on the wholesomeness and nutritional content of food.”

In a profession that demands the utmost athleticism from some of the biggest bodies on the planet, Cho knows that the source of food matters.

If this all sounds a bit familiar, it might be because Griz athletes have been eating Montana-grown grains, meat, and vegetables for years, fueling UM’s teams and supporting local farmers and ranchers.

“Not only does our Farm to College program help support Montana farmers and ranchers, it also helps us procure the freshest and most nutritious foods for our students and guests,” says Trevor Lowell, UM Dining Sustainability Director, and CFAC’s Board Chair.

It’s a win before the team even takes the court!

 

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University of Montana mascots Monte and Mo put on a halftime show at UM’s home court.

 

This is part 2 of Dave’s blog series on the intersection of sports and local food. Read part 1, Oakland A’s “The Farm” is a Home Run, here.

Paid Summer Internship: Organize a Western Montana chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition, Plan Farmer Field Days, and more!

Want to help Montana’s beginning farmers grow successful, sustainable businesses and have a louder voice in farm policy?  Want to learn about how to develop new resources, host events, facilitate meetings, and evaluate programs?  CFAC is looking for an intern for this summer to assist with a range of projects, including:

  • Organizing a Western Montana chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition, including outreach to area farmers, coordination with the national office and facilitation of the first chapter meeting
  • Planning, promoting, facilitating and evaluating the Farmer Field Days, a series of on-farm, production-focused workshops in Western Montana
  • Working with a range of farmers to collect reports and data from a farm equipment investment project, and completing resource guides for project reports

Intern Blog Posting

The summer intern will not be expected to lead these projects, but will have the opportunity to assist in development and management as appropriate, and will have the opportunity to assist with multiple projects.  We can offer a $2,000 stipend to a candidate who is able to offer at least 20 hours/week between May and August.

To apply, email dave@farmlinkmontana.org with your resume and a note on the project(s) in which you’re most interested, and any additional relevant information not covered in your resume.  We will be reviewing applications on a rolling basis.

Oakland A’s “The Farm” is a Home Run

By Dave Renn, Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program Manager

dave_renn_photoFarmers market season may be a month away, but for a lot of America, spring officially kicks off today with Major League Baseball opening day. In an exciting announcement, this season the Oakland A’s are bringing local food into the ballpark with the latest Coliseum attraction: The Farm.

Raised beds have been installed near the Coliseum’s right field flagpoles, and they will be managed by youth crews from Bay Area nonprofit, Acta Non Verba. Much like Missoula’s own Garden City Harvest, Acta Non Verba works to create safe and creative outdoor space for children, youth, and families. Maybe Missoula’s Youth Harvest Project will be cultivating the outfield fence line at Osprey stadium soon!

In an exciting announcement, this season the Oakland A’s are bringing local food into the ballpark with the latest Coliseum attraction: The Farm.

Sports and agriculture are two things very close to my heart. I am drawn to both for a lot of the same reasons:

  1. Both are active pursuits that build and reward healthy lifestyles;
  2. They both rely on a community of ‘players’ and supportive ‘fans’;
  3. You learn about the hard work it takes to succeed;
  4. And sometimes, despite your best efforts, you just don’t get the win.

The biggest difference is that in sports, there is always one winner and one loser. In local agriculture, everyone wins. The proceeds from everything sold out of The Farm will go towards the college educations of Oakland students. They will have chefs demonstrating nutritious cooking and fans learning firsthand about where their food comes from.

In local agriculture, everyone wins.

So let’s all give the A’s a “Play Ball!” today as we look forward to our local food opening day, May 5th. Any sports fan will agree that the farmers market has that game day feel, and while there are fewer home runs, you still get the gasps from the crowd when the Dixon Melon Truck shows up!