www.gardencityharvest.orgGarden City Harvest

More peas please!

Located in Missoula, MT since 1996, the Program in Ecological Agriculture and Society (PEAS) combines traditional academics with hands-on work at an urban, organic farm producing tens of thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables each season for Missoulians in need. PEAS collaborates with the non-profits Missoula Food Bank and Garden City Harvest which specialize in hunger prevention and food security. The PEAS farm grew more than 52,000 pounds of produce for distribution to low-income families during the 2001 growing season. After using University of Montana land at Fort Missoula for five years, PEAS moved and grew their first crop at the new Rattlesnake site in 2002. PEAS production obligations include emergency food shelters and a Community Supported Agriculture program or CSA. PEAS is run in accordance with organic standards, sustainability, and provides educational opportunities for ecological food production.

Ten percent of CSAs nationally are operated by non-profits and Garden City Harvest is one of them. The CSA food distribution model provides a portion of the farm’s harvest each week (a share) that usually feeds a family of four-to-six members. Baby boomers appreciate that CSA programs benefit consumers and producers with consumers receiving fresh produce grown by a local farmer, while the farmer or farm organization receives a stable income and a set of partners.

U of M internships are available for both undergraduate and graduate credit on the farm where students learn by doing and develop respect for the integrity of the land along the way. From greenhouse work to selling pumpkins, students are involved in all phases of the farm – an enriching experience that bonds students to each other and the farm, and often sets students on a new path. The Youth Harvest Project is therapeutic for at-risk teens. The entire family can participate in other ways. Little PEAS Summer Camps are a great way to involve the kids as they learn about sustainable agriculture. Anyone can volunteer time for weeding duties and receive veggies in return.  CSAs nourish people and the land and, in this community, put the gardens back in the Garden City! The nutritional benefit of a variety of fresh seasonal vegetables sustainably produced and harvested is a win-win for everyone in the sustainability food chain.