CFAC Seeks Half-Time, Paid Intern to Work with Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Western Montana

Want to help Montana’s beginning farmers grow successful, sustainable businesses, tell their stories, and have a louder voice in farm policy?  The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program at CFAC seeks an individual interested in honing skills in marketing, resource development, event hosting, group facilitation, and/or program evaluation.  The paid summer intern will assist with a range of projects, including:

  • Planning, promoting, facilitating and evaluating the Farmer Field Days, a series of on-farm, production-focused workshops in Western Montana
  • 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
  • Developing new tools and resources for the Farm Link Montana website to help connect beginning farmers with land, training, and mentors to support strong farm businesses.
  • Developing materials to promote land linking successes and opportunities between landowners and beginning farmers and ranchers.
  • Working with a range of farmers to collect reports and data from a farm equipment investment project, and creating resource guides for project reports

 

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 offer a $2,000 stipend to a candidate who is able to work approx 20 hours/week between May and August. Work will include events and activities on farms, office work, and the possibility of working remotely. The schedule is somewhat flexible to accommodate other summer activities.

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.

 

Intern Blog Posting

 

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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!

4 Farmers Markets Increasing Local Food Access in the Mission Valley: An Update for the 2018 Market Season

By Shay Farmer, Food Access Program Coordinator

Shay for webUPDATE:

This post has been updated with new information as of April 18th, 2018.

Ronan Market: New location- The Ronan Visitor Center on Hwy 93. 

Arlee Market: New location- back to the Hangin Art Gallery parking lot. A few vendors will accept Senior Coupons. The market is seeking assistance running the CSA booth.

Find more information with these updates included below.

There are many opportunities for fruit and vegetable farmers and eaters in the Mission Valley to ring in Spring and start the farmers market season off right! Below is an update on nutrition programs at each of four markets in the Mission Valley and opportunities to get involved.

$5,000 has been awarded to the Lake County Council on Aging to assist low-income seniors or elders from Sanders or Lake County that are interested in participating in the Senior Coupon program.

Senior Coupons help seniors purchase more local fresh fruits and vegetables and can be used at any farmers market in Lake County with vendors that accept the coupons. Seniors are encouraged to apply and see if they’re eligible for the program by contacting Dara at: 406-676-2367.

Polson FM Logo

The Polson Farmers Market runs Fridays from 9AM-1PM from May to October, and is located at 3rd & Main. The market accepts credit, debit, and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The Polson Farmers Market also accepts Double SNAP Dollars — which matches SNAP purchases of fruits and vegetables, up to $20 — and there are individual vendors that accept Senior Coupons; displayed posters will alert customers as to which vendors accept Senior Coupons.

Senior Coupons help seniors purchase more local fresh fruits and vegetables and can be used at any farmers market in Lake County with vendors that accept the coupons.

The Ronan Farmers Market runs Thursdays from 4-6PM and will start May 10. They are welcoming a new market manager, Jaci. They currently have some vendors that accept Senior Coupons and SNAP. The market will be held at the Ronan Visitor’s Center on Hwy 93.

Mission Falls FM Logo

St. Ignatius Farmers Market (Mission Falls) runs Fridays from 5-7PM from May 11th-October 4th in the former Golden Yoke parking lot. Starting this year, the market will accept credit, debit, and SNAP. They currently have some vendors that accept Senior Coupons.

Arlee Farmers Market This year, the Arlee Farmers Market will be held at the Hangin’ Art Gallery parking lot on Wednesdays from 4-7 p.m. The market is seeking more produce vendors, and assistance running the CSA booth. A few produce vendors will offer Senior Coupons. Contact Patty at 406-240-7175 to volunteer.

mission falls pic

5 Opportunities to Create a Future Vision for Our Community

Missoula County recently released a report on Agricultural Conservation in Missoula County, an Assessment of Working Groups’ Recommendations. This report is a follow-up to a process started back in 2016, when citizen working groups were formed to study agricultural land protection strategies, and made recommendations to the County Commissioners.

The Commissioners rejected regulatory options, and instead chose to focus on voluntary methods of land conservation.  Missoula has already lost much of its agricultural land, and continuing population growth puts the remainder at risk.

In addition to the Agricultural Conservation report, the County is working on updating zoning regulations, a land use strategy for urban areas to map where development should be directed (see opportunities for public comment below), and an open space protection plan update that includes agricultural land.

It is questionable that voluntary methods alone will be sufficient to conserve our best farmlands from development and other uses.

We encourage residents to learn more about the issues, attend these upcoming opportunities for engagement, and advocate for a diversity of approaches.

missoula area mapping

For more information about these and other growth planning projects, and how you can participate, see the Missoula County Planning website.  You can also sign up to receive information regarding conservation efforts of agricultural land from the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition at MissoulaCFAC.org.

Sens. Daines and Tester, Rep. Gianforte: Did You Hear Us Loud and Clear?

capitol

kim-cherries.jpg As CFAC’s Food Access Program Manager I’ve had the privilege of attending the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference for the past three years. The conference always manages to inspire new ways of deepening our connection with low-income Missoulians, expand my knowledge about SNAP and other federal food assistance programs, and provide a wealth of national research on the impacts of these programs. Plus, it’s fun to meet new people and connect with fellow Montanans on the other side of the country.

Perhaps the pinnacle of these annual trips is the chance to visit the D.C. offices of Montana’s Congressional Delegation on Capitol Hill (coined ‘Hill visits”). In the past I’ve joined the Montana Food Bank Network on Hill visits to reinforce their message about the importance of SNAP for Montana based on the health and economic impacts we see from Double SNAP Dollars. This year was no different in that respect – except that this year is a Farm Bill year, which means negotiations on what will and will not be funded in the 2018 Farm Bill, and to what extent, are underway.

Not only is SNAP facing devastating threats according to the President’s proposed budget, but much of CFAC’s work is funded through the Farm Bill – $1.3 million since 2014, to be exact. And many other nonprofits around the state have also received Farm Bill funding to do local food system development work.  This means our regional food system in Montana also has a lot riding on this Farm Bill.

During my Hill Visit this year, I was able to share feedback not just about SNAP, but also about the many Farm Bill programs that have contributed to the economic development of small farms in our state and how SNAP plays a crucial role in our local food economy.

I think we brought a powerful message to D.C. and I hope Representative Gianforte, Senator Daines, and Senator Tester heard it loud and clear.

Montana Food Bank Network delivered over 1,000 postcards directly to our Senators. The postcards told personal stories about why SNAP is important to these Montana residents. Elisha, former CFAC employee, Double SNAP customer, and SNAP advocate, courageously and eloquently shared her story of how she came to rely on SNAP benefits and what difference it has made in her life and the life of her two boys.

I followed with feedback from Double SNAP customers:

SNAP is a life-saver, but it’s not enough to afford to eat well.

In fact, new research drives this point home. The maximum SNAP benefit per meal per person is $1.86. Yet the average cost of a low-cost meal in Missoula County is $2.3225% more than the max SNAP benefit.

You can check out the latest research and compare the average cost of a low-cost meal in your county at the Urban Institute’s web page, Does SNAP Cover the Cost of a Meal in Your County.

Actually, this information isn’t new. Low-income community members in Missoula have been telling us that they can’t afford to eat as healthy as they want for a while – which is what spurred the start of the Double SNAP Dollars program.

Now the Double SNAP program, and many similar programs across the country,  are demonstrating that if people can afford to buy more fruits and vegetables, they do.

Cuts to SNAP, especially the drastic ones proposed in the President’s budget, would further exacerbate health disparities in our state.

Public health isn’t the only thing that stands to lose to cuts in the Farm Bill. Local producers also rely on programs like SNAP for an extra bit of sales and to be able to feed more of their community while remaining financially sustainable. These same producers currently have access to a variety of resources within the Farm Bill that promote local food and specialty crop production. CFAC’s menu of programs demonstrates the breadth of resources made possible due to the Farm Bill. Check them out below:

The Farm Bill in Montana

Making our voice heard is not just limited to a single set of Hill Visits once a year. Let us know your Farm Bill stories so we can share them with our local and DC offices. And we encourage you to share those stories with Representative Gianforte, Senator Daines, and Senator Tester yourself!