Helena Community Gardens to Host 5th Annual Grow Local Event

On Tuesday, April 10th, at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Helena Community Gardens invites the Helena community to attend a potluck and panel discussion at our 5th annual Grow Local event. The focus for the evening will be on creating vibrant local food systems that keep both food and money in Montana, with panelists from four Montana farms discussing organic farm practices and Community Support Agriculture (CSA) programs.

Grow Local starts at 5:30 pm with a community potluck. All are welcome to attend and bring a local food dish to share. At 7:00, we kick off the program with two inspiring songs by the Montana Women’s Chorus under the direction of Judy Fjell.  The panel discussion is an opportunity for Helena residents to learn about and discuss the food system and the significance of local food, an issue of growing international interest. This year a panel of Montana farmers will share various models of community farming and discuss the benefits of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), a way that consumers and farmers collaborate to produce healthy, local food.

What: Grow Local
When: April 10 at 5:30 pm
Where: St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
Cost: Free
Contact:  Jim Barngrover, 442-3505

Panelists include:

Eric and Audra Bergman, Groundworks Farm. Eric and Audra Bergman are in their third year of building a diversified, direct-market farm west of Great Falls.  A vegetable CSA is at the heart of the operation, with current production also including pastured-broilers and range-raised hogs.  A 20-week summer CSA and other products serve participants in the Great Falls area; Fall Harvest Shares and pork are offered for Helena delivery as well.  Ecological principles guide the farm practices, and the motivation is to participate in a food economy that builds health and abundance for our family, our communities, and the landscape.

Anna Jones-Crabtree and Doug Crabtree, Vilicus Farms. Anna Jones-Crabtree and Doug Crabtree became beginning farmers in their early 40’s.  In March of 2009, following a lifelong dream, they traded 20 years of savings, good credit and secure retirement plans for 1,280 acres of Conservation Reserve Program land off the open market in North Central Montana, founding Vilicus Farms.  As Stewards, conservation practices are integral to their farming system, including not only organic certification but also a 5+ year diverse crop rotation of small grains, oilseeds/broadleaves and legumes.

Cindy Hanson, North-Valley Co-op. Cindy moved to Montana in 1980 and began working on a farm in the Bitterroot Valley. Then in 1983, she moved to Bozeman, where she put in a small garden. She also rented a space from Rocky Creek Farm and grew herbs to sell in the local farmers market. She moved to Helena in 1990 and occasionally sold produce at the farmers market. In 2012 she collaborated with Lorna Milne and Gay and Bill Eyman to found the North-Valley Co-op, Helena’s first Community Supported Agriculture program.

Jacob and Courtney Cowgill, Prairie Heritage Farm. Prairie Heritage Farm is an organic, diversified farm near Conrad, Montana, on the short grass prairie where the Rocky Mountains meet the plains.The farm is owned and operated by Jacob and Courtney Cowgill, two central Montana kids returning to their roots. They grow vegetables, raise heritage turkeys, and grow ancient and heritage grains and seeds like Prairie Farro and Sonora Heritage Wheat. They market the majority of what they grow through various Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSA). Prairie Heritage Farm is, in a lot of ways, the kind of farm that existed in the region 50-100 years ago: diversified, small-scale and locally based. Their vision is to be a model for how to revive elements of that old kind of agriculture alongside the kind of agriculture that has sustained communities in the last several decades. They believe that family farms nourish not only the people who work them, but the people they feed and communities in which they live. They believe organic agriculture, diversification and a robust local food system are good for the health of the farm, the customers, the community, themselves, and the environment. They have a deep appreciation for the opportunity to be on the land, feeding their neighbors and friends.

About Helena Community Gardens

Helena Community Gardens, formerly known as the Growing Community Project, works to build gardens, provide tools and knowledge to grow food and increase access to healthy and affordable foods. We are diverse group of individuals and organizations working together to manage seven community gardens in the Helena area. Our goal is to develop community gardens within walking distance of every neighborhood in Helena, Montana.

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