Montana-grown and raised foods will take center stage in Gardiner on Friday, April 21, when the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) joins with Farm to School of Park County, Gardiner Public Schools, and other partnering organizations for the first of three Farm to School workshops.
The workshop will provide general training on Farm to School programs and Montana Harvest of the Month as well as feature the ways Gardiner Public Schools have implemented those programs. There will be a special focus on how rural communities can leverage partnerships to promote Montana foods.
The Montana Harvest of the Month program promotes food grown in the state. Each month, participating sites spotlight a food by serving it in at least one meal, snack, or à la carte offering. Schools and early care programs also offer students taste tests and include the food in lessons and activities.
“That food might be summer squash, which isn’t going to be at the top of most kids’ lunch-time wish list. It’s amazing to see how often kids surprise themselves and really like a food they didn’t think they would,” said NCAT Local Foods Specialist Molly Kirkham. “Kids often aren’t very adventurous when it comes to food. One of the primary goals of Harvest of the Month is simply to expose children — and adults — to new, healthy foods. The other goal is to support Montana’s farmers and ranchers.”
NCAT leads the Montana Harvest of the Month program along with partnering organizations around the state.
Montana Harvest of the Month also is an excellent way to launch or expand a farm-to-school or farm-to-cafeteria program since it provides an easy framework to follow and ready-to-use materials, Kirkham said. And farm to school programs depend on a partnership of school staff and community members that Harvest of the Month can often provide.
Montana Harvest of the Month is open to K-12 schools, early care and education programs, businesses, organizations, and other institutions in the state.
Participants in the April 21 workshop will hear from people involved in farm-to-school initiatives, including food service directors, parents, organizations, producers, and educators. The workshop will also include training based on participants’ role in the community.
Kirkham encourages anyone interested in the Montana Harvest of the Month program or farm-to-school and farm-to-cafeteria programs to attend the showcase event Friday, April 21, at Gardiner Schools, located at 510 Stone Street. It will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.
“Parents and organizations interested in helping with school taste tests, food service directors looking for realistic recipes and strategies for procuring local foods, educators who want to add farm-to-school activities to curriculum, and producers interested in working with schools and other institutions, this event is for you!” she said.
The cost for the Farm to School Workshop is $15 for an individual, and some scholarships are available. Registration includes lunch and snacks made with local foods.
For more information and to register, click here.