By: Jeanine New, Board of Directors
Before the COVID-19 impact was being discussed widely in the US, Henry and Laura Garber, of Homestead Organics, were openly researching options to produce more high-quality food. In alignment with the vision and mission of Cultivating Connections, they wanted to look at additional ways to produce great quality food and continue to support the community.
In January 2020 research began to investigate ways to decrease the waste that is produced during summer months at the high of harvest. Farmers and distributors typically waste a percentage of products through transportation and simple surplus of vegetables that are not perfect enough to sell, but there is currently not an infrastructure to re-purpose farm waste in the Bitterroot. What would happen if vegetables & grain could be processed into food forms like vegetable chips that are high in protein? The vision for the future is to create an increase of on-site vegetable processing in the commercial kitchen right at the farm!
In further looking into what equipment and processes would be necessary to produce product recipes designed to give ultimate nutrition and curb waste? One answer was to purchase the necessary equipment that would support processing the excess into a sell-able product. Ideas include making fresh soup, yogurt, nut milk or other products that in turn could be used to support the local community.
The required equipment to preserve better nutritious food include: a flash freezer, storage freezer/refrigerators, commercial kettles, glassware washer, food extruder, dehydrator, nut milk processor, yogurt machines, stainless steel storage racks/tables, recipe evaluation for calorie and nutrition, printers & labeling software to support food production. Research and pricing investigations have been done to identify the basic specifications and size of equipment necessary to reduce waste. The equipment capital needs are greater than $100,000 and various funding options are being explored including grant opportunities, fundraising, and private donations.
If you are interested in learning more about this expansion project and/or would like to contribute to specific equipment purchases or donate to the “equipment fund”, please reach out to us at: email@example.com.
Donation checks can be mailed to:
Attn: Equipment Fund
175 Skalkaho Highway
Hamilton, MT 59840
By supporting this initiative, you will help to increase food sufficiency & variety in our community!