This week Youth Farm interns had a chance to connect with the Meals On Wheels kitchen and program participants, the roots of who we aim to serve through the program. After receiving a tour of the kitchen, speaking with staff, and seeing the care that goes into preparing individualized meals for recipients, the girls had a new perspective on the importance of what they're doing on the farm. Many Meals On Wheels participants are often homebound and cannot get to the store on a regular basis to buy food for themselves, and some would not be able to prepare a healthy meal even if they did have access. Sometimes the daily meal that is delivered to recipients' doors is the only meal they will have all day. Therefore, the quality of the meals provided by Meals On Wheels is imperative, and with such a small budget it can be challenging to focus on quality over quantity. All of the interns left the kitchen feeling motivated to continue the work they have been doing the past month - growing high quality organic vegetables that will be donated to Meals On Wheels and integrated into their meal preparation. Three interns stayed around after the tour and had the chance to ride along with one of the kitchen's volunteer delivery drivers, where they were able to meet some of the program participants and put real faces to the beneficiaries of the meals to which they're contributing.
The interns also visited the Wester Agriculture Research Station in Corvallis to learn how research intersects with farming in Western Montana. Zach Miller, the station director, gave the girls a tour of the property, explaining along the way the different projects the station is involved in. Ranging from apple tree grafting experiments, to winter wheat weed management, the largely grant funded Ag Research Station examines the most pressing concerns for farmers in Montana and tries to find solutions for farmers that practical and accessible. The girls even had the chance to participate in a study of honey berries, rating several different varieties on taste, consistency, shape, and color. It was a fantastic introduction to the world of agriculture research and its direct application to farming practices.