"We have projects that focus on building a community around everything we do here at the school," Hinsdale Ag Teacher Patti Armbrister.
Missouri River Country, MT (PRWEB) November 12, 2012
As Thanksgiving approaches, family and friends gather around the table to recognize those things they are thankful for. At this time remember to reflect on how a wonderful Thanksgiving feast is possible and thank those that work every day to provide safe affordable products. Farm-City week is November 16-22, just in time to learn about where the food in a Thanksgiving feast comes from and how it is all possible. Take a moment out of Holiday planning to recognize the crucial importance of the local agriculture industry.
In Montana’s Missouri River Country, Farm-City ideals are practiced year round. October was Farm to School month and communities across the area worked to educate about the important Farm-City connections that provide safe and affordable food and products. From farmers and ranchers to processors, wholesalers and retailers, the link between consumers and producers is vitally important, not only to communities in Montana’s Missouri River Country but also to the nation in understanding and strengthening the access to affordable, healthy and safe foods.
“Farm to School month highlights partnerships where nutrition programs, community non-profit organizations, school administrators, teachers, parents, farmers and ranchers, policy makers and state agencies are coming together to explore the many strategies for connecting children to the sources of their food” says Aubree Roth, Montana State Lead for the National Farm to School Network. In Montana’s Missouri River Country programs occur year round to bring agriculture that is right outside city limits into the classroom to create understanding and the utilization of these agricultural resources. One stand-out example of this can be seen in Hinsdale, Montana, a town of just over 200 people, where beef cattle and wheat are the biggest industries. The school has an outdoor classroom, a no-till garden, classes that focus on identifying helpful insects and companion planting, a passive solar green house with an energy bill that totals $0. “We have projects that focus on building a community around everything we do here at the school,” says Ag Teacher Patti Armbrister. “There was some negativity and resistance when we wanted to start this but by starting programs at a younger age we have seen a mini culture change.” The school lunch program is a glowing success with 100% of the 78 students eating school lunch which features locally grown food. “We started by having our FFA chapter do a survey of every person in the school to see what they liked and wanted to eat. We have seen when the students have a choice and have had a part in growing it, they know about the food they are eating and want to eat it,” says Armbrister. The connection and education with local agriculture has moved beyond the school with adult education classes and community members growing and supplying food to the school.
Cattle producer Howard Rambur, who lives outside Sidney, Montana got his start through a 4-H project. “I started with two half-blood cows and a purebred bull,” shares Rambur. Today, he has been in the cattle business for over 40 years with a business focused on a purebred Charolais herd, his operation also includes a feedlot, irrigated farm land, stock transportation. Although agriculture is the largest industry in Montana, for many it is hard to break into the industry. “You either are born into it or marry into it,” says Rambur, “With the way things are today you just can’t get started the way I did anymore.” The biggest trend that worries me is that youth aren’t getting involved and those in the industry are getting old and looking to retire.”
Montana’s Missouri River Country is beginning to make strides in reversing the
loss-of-youth trend by connecting the local agriculture industry with its communities and raising youth who are knowledgeable and actively involved with the necessity of agriculture and the vital connection between consumers and producers. This goal is further supported by several events throughout the year. Beyond the numerous Farmer’s Markets and local fairs, producers and consumers are brought together at:
- New Trends in Agriculture – Glasgow, MT January 16, 2013
- Northeast Montana Farm Expo – Plentywood, MT March 15-16, 2013
- Town And Country Festival - Sidney, MT June, 2013
- MonDak Harvest Fest – Sidney, MT January 10-11, 2013
- Town and Country Days – Circle, MT September, 2013
- Northeast Montana Threshing Bee – Culbertson, MT September, 2013
To those outside Missouri River Country the area is a haven for wildlife viewing, fishing for walleye and paddlefish on the Fort Peck Reservoir and surrounding rivers, hunting and as a stopping point as they travel through Montana. The vast open spaces that characterize the landscape are sought after by those looking for a retreat from everyday life and looking to relax surrounded by breathtaking horizons. A closer look at this vastness will unveil that the open land is in fact planted with the same vegetable available at the local diner or is speckled with cattle grazing far off in the distance. Agriculture not only thrives in these open spaces but provides a basic human need.
This Thanksgiving as you sit down to dinner, pause for a moment to remember where your food came from and take a moment to give thanks to those involved with providing your meal. From the farmer and rancher to the truck driver and retailer, they play an important role in the vital relationship between producer and consumer. For more information about visiting Missouri River Country and seeing agriculture in action, please visit missouririver.visitmt.com.