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

A chilly spring and in depth flooding led to a foul begin for our native farmers this yr. 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 shall be piloting a brand new Harvesting and Gleaning program this yr after our 2021 Neighborhood Wants Evaluation confirmed that many neighborhood members lack constant, dependable entry to numerous and wholesome meals. Forty-six p.c of our clients stated that they normally wouldn’t have recent fruit and veggies of their dwelling. Due to that, we began fascinated with long-term options to enhance entry to recent and native meals.

A lot of our fantastic neighborhood companions, like our native farmers, Land to Hand, AERO, FVCC, and extra not too long ago Save Farmland, have performed unimaginable work through the years to strengthen our community-based meals system. At NVFB, we attempt to study from our companions and began buying recent produce from native farms via 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 after 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 artistic 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 incredible job researching and studying from present, 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 in every of few applied straight by a meals financial institution relatively than a third-party group. This shall be useful as we are able to use present infrastructures resembling transportation, meals storage and volunteer recruitment to make sure sustainability program. In our pilot yr, we are going to work with Two Bear Farm and hope to increase so as to add further partnerships subsequent yr. Our volunteers can have the distinctive alternative to reap and glean extra “reduce and are available once more” produce left within the area particularly for NVFB and seconds that can’t be bought within the conventional approach.

Think about, for instance, bruised cauliflower heads that won’t make it into the produce cooler on the retailer however that may as a substitute change into scrumptious cauliflower soup after being processed in our neighborhood kitchen. Via 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 methods whereas understanding the distinctive challenges confronted by farmers right here within the Flathead Valley.

Attain out to [email protected] if you wish to be 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 gives 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.