In a Nutshell: Entry to wholesome and recent meals for all

A chilly spring and in depth flooding led to a nasty begin for our native farmers this 12 months. However now, the solar is shining and harvesting season is lastly right here!

We at North Valley Meals Financial institution (NVFB) could not be extra excited as we can be piloting a brand new Harvesting and Gleaning program this 12 months after our 2021 Group Wants Evaluation confirmed that many neighborhood members lack constant, dependable entry to numerous and wholesome meals. Forty-six p.c of our prospects stated that they often should not have recent vegetables and fruit of their residence. Due to that, we began enthusiastic about long-term options to enhance entry to recent and native meals.

Lots of our great neighborhood companions, like our native farmers, Land to Hand, AERO, FVCC, and extra just lately Save Farmland, have executed unimaginable work over time to strengthen our community-based meals system. At NVFB, we try to be taught from our companions and began buying recent produce from native farms by means of forward-contracting with Depraved Items to make sure extra cooperative partnerships.

The concept for the brand new Harvesting and Gleaning program was born final summer season once we visited Rebecca and Todd Ulizio at Two Bear Farm together with Gretchen Boyer, our buddy from Land to Hand, to debate future collaborations. The Harvesting and Gleaning program is a inventive technique to offer an abundance of recent and native produce to our neighborhood of shoppers whereas additionally decreasing meals loss on native farms, constructing capability to get meals out of fields, and strengthening relationships between farmers and neighborhood members. Our AmeriCorps VISTA, Maddie Culhane, was introduced on board for her year-long service particularly to develop this program and did an amazing job researching and studying from current, related initiatives throughout the nation.

Gleaning is the act of recovering meals. Our program focuses on gleaning from farmer’s fields and is exclusive in its nature as it’s one among few carried out immediately by a meals financial institution reasonably than a third-party group. This can be useful as we are able to use current infrastructures similar to transportation, meals storage and volunteer recruitment to make sure sustainability program. In our pilot 12 months, we are going to work with Two Bear Farm and hope to develop so as to add extra partnerships subsequent 12 months. Our volunteers could have the distinctive alternative to reap and glean extra “reduce and are available once more” produce left within the discipline particularly for NVFB and seconds that can’t be offered within the conventional method.

Think about, for instance, bruised cauliflower heads that will not make it into the produce cooler on the retailer however that can as a substitute turn out to be scrumptious cauliflower soup after being processed in our neighborhood kitchen. By way of this course of, we are able to make use of what farmers have grown and construct robust connections between farmers and customers. We hope for our contributors to develop data of the significance of sustainable, native meals programs whereas understanding the distinctive challenges confronted by farmers right here within the Flathead Valley.

Attain out to [email protected] if you wish to be a part of us within the fields this summer season and keep tuned for extra program particulars as soon as the harvesting and gleaning season is in full swing.

Sophie Albert is the manager director of North Valley Meals Financial institution. Albert offers insights into happenings on the meals financial institution, rural meals insecurity, tales of the neighborhood and extra within the month-to-month Whitefish Pilot column titled, In a Nutshell.