Cultivating Connections & Homestead Organics Farm!
Cultivating Connections is a non-profit educational organization providing real job skills in Agriculture and Home Arts through paid internships, farm tours and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) food shares. Thanks to a generous donation from Homestead Organics Farm, a working organic farm in Hamilton, Montana, our programs utilize the hands-on farm classrooms in the middle of the beautiful Bitterroot Valley.
We have a new logo and website coming soon! Check back late July 2020 to see our new look & information!
Introducing Mayday Gardens!
Join us in enhancing our local resiliency as we learn to Grow More Food Together! Click on the link below to learn about Mayday Gardens and how to plant your own garden space through our video tutorial series. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and stay up to date with future video releases.
Cultivating Connections YouTube Channel
The Spring Mayday Gardens were such a success we planted another round that was available in June so you can plan for a late fall harvest. Overall over 200 new garden start sets were distributed throughout the community! We loved sharing in your excitement to start gardening or to grow food with your family.
The Mayday Gardens projects provides ready-to-plant collections of vegetable starts (‘Your Future Food’), along with fun instructional videos containing simple advice for preparing your planting space, proper transplanting, plant care, harvesting, and seed saving, as well as cooking and preserving tips.
Everyone is invited to participate and how and where you plant Your Future Food is only limited by your imagination. A small, 4’X6’ square will work, a 1’wide strip that is 24’ long will work, planter boxes, large patio pots, and raised beds will work. Just prepare a spot and plant your future food, please.
Mayday Gardens can be in your front yard, along the driveway, in a community garden plot: anywhere with soil, sunlight, and a way to get water.
Preparing to grow Your Future Food is easy. All you need is a shovel, a garden fork, or a rototiller
Maintaining Your Future Food will be fun and easy. All you need is access to clean water and a bucket, watering can, or hose. It will be rewarding to care for your plants, will give you a bit of exercise, and will not take a lot of time.
Harvesting Your Food will be the BEST FUN, and Your Food will taste INCREDIBLE! Preparing it into delicious and healthy meals will be easy and fun with the recipe guides that will be provided to Mayday Garden participants.
Families and people who have never grown their own food or had a garden are especially invited to participate! As beginning food growers, you will be supported throughout this new and exciting process of planting, tending, and eating your own food! Seasoned gardeners, regular Farmers’ Market customers, and current CSA members are encouraged to continue growing and buying from local farmers. You are also invited to grow a Mayday Garden. An easy way to donate and share the vegetables you grow will be created, meaning more locally grown food will be distributed and eaten within our community!
What If we see this moment of global disruption as our chance to reimagine our Agriculture?! What If we take the next some weeks, when the world will be on shut-down mode, to figure it out- Together, as sacred human beings?!
We will release ourselves from Corporate-Industrial-polluting-Slave-driven-gene-manipulated-subsidized-unhealthy Agriculture-as-a-profit-driven-Big-Business. We will create a system that is abundant, fair, healthy for consumers, farmers, and the planet, and is locally focused. We will have food for all and connection through food. This will be true- “Change Your Food, Change Your World!”
Have fun preparing the planting space, planting and harvesting your Future Food!
2020 Planting guide (download PDF by clicking here). If you need help identifying your new plants, here's a visual guide:
Our mission: Intended to inspire gratitude, generosity, fraternity, participation, a creative spirit, and a love of Mother Nature, Cultivating Connections teaches real job skills in the Agricultural and Home Arts and act as a catalyst for community building using food as the tool to bring people together through education, participation, and celebration.
2019 Cultivating Connections program summary & accomplishments
Dear Friends and Supporters,
2019 has been a wonderful year for Cultivating Connections and our family of programs! We are very pleased with the amazing work we accomplished this past year and want to thank you for your support. We’d like to share a few highlights from 2019 and ask for your financial support of these impactful programs.
The Youth Farm Internship: 8 Interns mentored in the arts of organic farming, community involvement, and value-added food processing.
Managed and packed the multi-producer CSA for the Loyal To Local Cooperative
Grew 12 weeks of mixed vegetables for the Co-op’s Vegetable share.
‘Best of the Farm’ 20 week CSA - 24 of 30 shares were donated to families within our community!
‘Special Abilities Camp' Counselor/Buddies
‘Salads For Seniors’ project- 100 fresh garden salads a week for eight weeks. Interns harvested, produced, and delivered the salads to Meals on Wheels of Ravalli County Council on Aging.
International Youth in Farming Work Safari: 3 interns traveled to Berlin, Germany to learn about and experience a foreign culture and its agriculture.
Toured the Berlin Botanical Gardens, Gardens of the World, Lobetal Farm for disabled adults, and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.
Home-stay in a German family
Five-day mini internship on an organic small farm.
Positively transformative for all the participants!
Special Abilities Camp: Eighth year of summer days camps for kids on the autism spectrum, in cooperation with Bitterroot Arts for Autism.
‘Special Abilities ‘Growing Roots’ Camp’ -a weeklong day-camp for high functioning kids on the autism spectrum.
Special Abilities ‘Pond Days’ -three, one-day camps for all special abilities kids with swimming and boating on the farm pond!
Kinder-Gardeners Project: 3-part farm visit series for all seven kindergarten classes (over 120 kids) from Hamilton.
Harvested potatoes in the fall, seeded peas in early spring, and transplanted flowers in the late spring.
Taste-tested a variety of vegetables, got to run, play, and scream, and had a dance party on the farm’s stage!
Each teacher and one student from each classroom won a ‘Best of the Farm’ CSA share produced by the Youth Farm Interns!
Homies Program: Weekly summer farm visits for youth living at the Linda Massa Youth Home.
Youth Home residents were able to work with plants, dig in the soil, feed and pet farm animals, and just be free to enjoy the natural world and express themselves.
The ‘Homies’ program has long been an integral part of how we are connecting people to themselves and each other using food as the commonality.
Building A Stronger Bitterroot Community Roundtable Series: 5 month series following the Societal Transformation Lab curriculum from M.I.T. and the Presencing Institute.
Engaged over 250 people.
Opened up important conversations and built lasting connections-all with the intention of discovering and enhancing Resilience in our community.
Reimagining School Lunch Innovation Lab: 4-part lab to investigate and innovated around the question ‘What If we served 100% Montana grown food to all Bitterroot Valley school children?’
Kicked off on Nov. 2, 2019 with the intention of seeing and understanding our current school lunch and local food system. 45 participants and stakeholders were engaged!
Part Two will be April 17/18, 2020 to begin the process of crystallizing and prototyping new systems for school lunch using 100% Montana grown foods.
Parts Three and Four will be in July and November, 2020 to build upon themselves and the prototype ideas generated by participants and stakeholders.
Innovation Lab series uses fun and engaging social tools from Theory-U, the Presencing Institute, and Liberating Structures.
Facilitation model being created is intended for dissemination across Montana to help interested communities and groups reach into their future potential.
Other events and activities:
Drum Brothers Concert and drumming workshop, July 2019.
Sleeping Child Hot Springs Fun-Raiser, April 2019.
Young Adult Internships for college-aged students
National Farmers Union Women’s Conference- two former interns and Cultivating Connections’ Director were sponsored conference participants
2020 promises to be an exciting step forward for Cultivating Connections. We will expand the Youth Farm Internship so that we can expand the ‘Best of the Farm’ CSA to offer 25 Buy One-Give One CSA shares, meaning 25 shares for sale and 25 shares for donation within our community! Special Abilities ‘Growing Roots Camp’ will continue with an added week in late summer to connect and reinforce the learning for kids on the autism spectrum.
Thanks to a grant from the Rapp Family Foundation, our Salads for Seniors program will be expanded to serve more home bound elders and youth! In 2020, the Youth Farm Interns will make 100 salads and slaws each week for 20 weeks And the Homies program will make 100 salads and slaws each week. This will greatly increase the access to fresh seasonal vegetables for seniors through Meals on Wheels and will immerse kids living at the youth home in real, meaningful community engagement. We know this program will impact all involved in innumerable ways!
The Reimagining School Lunch Innovation Lab will continue with the goal of an updated school lunch system that can serve 100% Montana grown foods. Our Kinder-Gardeners project will continue to serve the Hamilton school district and is poised to branch out into the Corvallis and Victor school districts to include more kids and two additional farms. The Sleeping Child Hot Springs Fun-Raiser, scheduled for March 21/22 will again bring couples, friends, and families together to enjoy these treasured waters, share healthy food, and support our programs.
Cultivating Connections has a heading that is ambitious and impactful. Our work is enriching the lives of youth, feeding our elders and young families, bringing together community members around important issues and ideas, and truly making a difference. In order to continue this work, we need your help! We need to raise $30,000.
Get involved in making our valley and our country a more resilient world for generations to come. Please consider becoming a financial sponsor of Cultivating Connections. Thank you for your support, it is vital to our innovative programming and will enrich not only your life but the lives of many others in Montana and beyond!
Peace, Laura Garber
Cultivating Connections Director