jackson beets and carrots

Jackson’s Garden

 Jackson’s Garden is a volunteer operated communal garden located in Sheridan, Montana.  Our mission is to sustainably support gardening for production, education, and enjoyment of our community.

Jackson’s Garden promotes the health and wellness of our community by producing fresh fruits and vegetables, providing attractive opportunities for community members to engage in physical activity, and offering educational opportunities.  The organization disseminates information about gardening, nutrition, and healthy lifestyles through a monthly newsletter.  They partner with the local school districts to provide garden-based curriculums with the goal of instilling healthy behaviors at a young age.  They also conduct cooking workshops for adults.

Cooperation between key community stakeholders, and a community basis of support play significant roles in the success of the project.  The organization is run by volunteers, and receives the majority of its financial support from community donations.  Additionally, because the garden is operated as one large plot, rather than the traditional community garden model of individually rented spaces, we are able to produce substantially more food and better use sustainable agriculture practices.

Currently, the garden has 11 volunteer members.  In addition, over 30 non-member volunteers worked in the garden during the 2010 growing season.  Programs to engage more youth volunteers are being developed.

Working together motivates people to be healthier.  A first time home gardener may let their garden fall into disorder midway through the season – discouraged by the amount of time required or seasonable variability.  But a group of volunteers will motivate each other – to return to the garden every week to see each other, to find new and healthy ways to utilize the abundance of fresh foods now available to them, and to stay engaged.  This finding is why Jackson’s Garden has decided to continue operating the garden communally, rather than renting out individual plots.


The state of the garden is its own success story.  Three years ago, the property, which had been a garden for over 30 years, was in a state of decline.  The couple who owned the property were no longer able to work the land and the garden had been taken over by weeds, brush, and debris so dense it was described as a “jungle”.  Friends of the Jacksons decided three years ago to reclaim the land and restore it to its former beauty.  Within two years the land had become workable again and was producing flowers and vegetables.  In the third year, the Jacksons donated the land to the community volunteers, who have formed a private nonprofit organization, Jackson’s Garden, Inc to foster the land.  The volunteers are now engaged in strategic planning to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project.

Results so far: 2010 Growing Season: ~1,000 pounds of produce grown.  Approximately 500 pounds was distributed to volunteer members, approximately 300 pounds was sold to the greater community at a Farm Stand, and approximately 200 pounds was donated to various community organizations.

Organizations Involved: Sheridan, Alder, and Twin Bridges School Districts; Ruby Watershed Council; Ruby Habitat Foundation; Montana State University County Extension Services; University of Montana Western Campus Corps; Montana Campus Compact; Sheridan Senior Center

For more information check out their website at: http://www.jacksonsgarden.org/


MVMC logo

Madison Valley Medical Center Health Fair

The Health Fair at Madison Valley Medical Center is a community service event that focuses on screening tests and education for life style changes that support good health.

The Health Fair is a spring and fall event that focuses on screening and prevention.  It gives the community the opportunity to have low cost diagnostic testing for preventable or treatable conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, abdominal aortic aneurysm or peripheral arterial disease.  The goal is overall community wellness.

The Health Fair is also a way for the community to be informed of the services provided by their local hospital and clinic. Some of the groups involved are Madison County Sheriff’s Office, Hospice, Lincare, Hyalite Rehab, Diabetes Educators, the Ennis Fire Department and Costco. Key factors for success are accessible diagnostic tests at a reduced rate and educational opportunities provided by our medical staff during the ‘noon lunch lectures’.


Last year the Imaging Department was able to diagnosis three people with abdominal aortic aneurysms who had no symptoms and were unaware of their condition.  Through the results of the blood testing the Laboratory was able in inform physicians of the patients’ conditions, allowing for early intervention and treatment of disease such as diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.

Contact Information: Bev Bishop, Imaging Manager at Madison Valley Medical Center

Phone: 406-682-6862

Email: bbishop@mvmedcenter.org



Montana FoodCorps & Grow Montana

Montana’s FoodCorps is a team of young leaders fighting the childhood obesity epidemic by helping K-12 schools serve more locally grown food, grow school gardens, and conduct hands-on nutrition education. The 2011-2012 team is focused on Montana’s rural communities, especially those with high levels of poverty or food insecurity.

In the summer of 2006, Grow Montana partnered with Montana Campus Compact to launch Montana’s FoodCorps, the nation’s first statewide team of VISTA volunteers trained to create and grow farm to cafeteria programs. Each FoodCorps member was trained, provided with mentors, and dispatched to a partnering institution. Since then, the six original Montana FoodCorps institutions have returned over $2.5 million dollars to local farmers and ranchers. This year the growing Montana FoodCorps team will work in a dozen communities state-wide to help schools serve local, healthy foods; build and tend school gardens; and educate kids about how and why to eat food grown closer to home.


In FoodCorps’ first year alone, Salish Kootenai College purchased 10 percent (up from 0) of its total food budget from seven tribal reservation-area vendors, Montana State University launched a diversified student-run vegetable farm, UM-Western bought so much local beef that a county commissioner is proposing to build a processing plant in the region, and Missoula County Public Schools actually saved money stocking local produce. Now, Montana’s FoodCorps is a model for a national FoodCorps, which launched this summer with 50 members in 10 states.

Montana’s FoodCorps depends on the hard work of many, starting with the host communities who In Ennis, Dillon, Red Lodge, Boulder, Livingston, Ronan, Glendive, Forsyth, Kalispell, Somers, Sheridan, and Potomac, we collaborate with community foundations, extension agencies, local colleges, school districts, non-profits, after-school programs, and more. In addition, FoodCorps members enjoy broad statewide support from the Grow Montana coalition, which aims to create a sustainable Montana-based food system.

While the emphasis of Montana’s FoodCorps is on K-12 students, our impact reaches far beyond. For example, on a recent sunny fall day in Dillon, middle school students jogged one mile to the UM Western Campus Garden, enjoyed a quick hands-on lesson on the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables from a UM Western student, then harvested a bounty of produce to share with the senior center down the road. This one simple project gets healthy food into the lives of sixth graders, college students, and retirees all at once.

But do the kids like it? According to teachers in Kalispell, even the pickiest eaters are gobbling up the local produce now being offered in the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Snack program. And in Red Lodge, students so enjoyed the fresh veggies offered on a special meal day that they went to the farm to help harvest more. The fruits of our labor are disappearing into kids’ bellies, and that’s just the way we like it.

The key factor in our ability to create such innovative programs is our community-building process: All FoodCorps members share the same mission—to improve the health of children through Farm to School, school gardens, and nutrition eduction—but the strategies for achieving the mission is tailored to the unique strengths and opportunities of the local community.

Results:  Previous FoodCorps members have returned over $1 million to Montana’s farmers
and ranchers through local food buying programs, and reached thousands of
community members through educational programming.

Findings:  Evaluation data on FoodCorps for Rural Montana is still pending. Initial
summary of progress to date will be developed in fall/winter of 2012.

Farm to School programs across the state would benefit from:

                -Increased number of farmers and ranchers with the capacity to sell locally

                -Increased opportunities for community-based food processing

                -More opportunities to work with teachers on how to incorporate school gardens and farm-based education into their already full schedules

                -More research on which types of school gardens, farm-based education, cooking and nutrition classes have greatest impact, so that we can tailor our programs accordingly

Current Funding Sources: USDA Community Food Projects (NIFA) & Corporation for National and Community Service

Partner Organizations: Grow Montana, National Center for AppropriateTechnology, Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO), Montana Campus Compact VISTA, Montana Team Nutrition’s Farm to School Program, National FoodCorps, Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center, Community GATE, Montana
Farmers Union

For more information please visit : www.montanafoodcorps.blogspot.com

 Or Contact:

Crissie McMullan, FoodCorps Project Director, National Center for Appropriate Technology and Grow Montana

406-531-5162 crissiem@ncat.org


Kevin Moore,  Grow Montana Project Director, Alternative Energy Resources Organization

406-443-7272  kmoore@aeromt.org