Our MT Harvest of the Month work under NCAT’s Growing for Success project began in October 2016 with the goal of increasing the sale of specialty crops to Montana institutions. This project builds on the successes and lessons learned from the school-based HOM program by expanding it to the broader institutional community with a focus on vulnerable populations in hospitals and preschools & daycares, also known as early care and education (ECE) providers.
From conversations with healthcare and ECE providers in 20 communities, NCAT identified three communities for the in-depth HOM community pilot project: Livingston, Missoula, and Kalispell. NCAT convened community meetings every other month in these target pilot communities and provided opportunities for stakeholders to troubleshoot specialty crop sourcing, as well as to meet potential vendors and discuss distribution and purchasing partnerships. Healthcare and ECE stakeholders formed teams, helped with the creation of new HOM materials, and implemented HOM in 4 healthcare institutions and 8 preschools.
We began creating these materials for our pilot sites in December of 2016 and conducted a state-wide launch of HOM in healthcare and early care & education settings in August of this year! To celebrate the end of Growing for Success… and the beginning of Growing for Success Part 2, which will extend HOM further into grocery store and community business pilot sites, we are publicizing our Montana Harvest of the Month Best Practices Guide. This guide includes HOM project outcomes, lessons learned from our pilots in healthcare and ECE settings, and more details on Growing for Success Part 2.