Eating healthy and supporting the community has never been easier. With their on-campus “Farm Stand”, Towne’s Harvest Garden is giving students access to local, organic produce without ever leaving campus.
Every Thursday evening, running from July 14 – Oct. 6, students and community members can find the Towne’s Harvest Garden Farm Stand under a white tent in front of the SUB, cornered between the entrance of the bus loop and Grant Street. From 3-6 p.m., students can purchase a wide variety of fresh produce including garlic, cucumbers, cantaloupe, peppers, eggplants and salsa bags (sauce tomatoes, onions, cilantro and a hot pepper), among other fruits and vegetables.
Celebrating its 10th year, Towne’s Harvest Garden, a project of the MSU Friends of Local Foods student organization, is a three acre, university-owned vegetable plot located across 19th Avenue from campus on Garfield Street. According to the Towne’s Harvest Garden website, Friends of Local Foods was formed to “bring a diverse group of students and faculty together to raise awareness about local foods and encourage sustainable lifestyles on campus and in the community.” Allison Milodragovich, a graduate student in the Department of Health and Human Development and the marketing and operations manager for Towne’s Harvest, added, “Our mission is not to make money; it’s education and access.” Coded as a non-profit, Towne’s Harvest Garden is also certified organic by the Montana Department of Agriculture.
Milodragovich explained, “the benefits of [eating] local are economic and nutritional.” She stressed that, as opposed to buying produce from across the world, buying locally allows for better traceability. She also implied that farmers put more care into their crop selling to their neighbors as opposed to crops grown for far away communities.
During the spring through fall, Towne’s offers Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA). After becoming a member, for about $30 a week, students can pick up a bundle of fresh produce grown right at the farm. There are two CSA seasons: one running from the last week of May to the first week of July, and one running from the first week of July to the first week of October.
In conjunction with Towne’s Harvest Garden’s 10th anniversary, the Governor’s Local Food and Agriculture Summit will be held in the SUB Friday, Oct. 28 – Saturday, Oct. 29. The first one in nine years, the summit will celebrate the programs already in place that are helping grow the Montana local food economy as well as look towards the future at what Montana can do to increase local food systems and address potential challenges.
If students would like to know more about Towne’s Harvest Garden or their Farm Stand, Towne’s has a Facebook page with information on their program as well as updates regarding produce and CSA shares.