MSU Extension SNAP-Ed and Master Gardener programs partner to address food insecurity

Montana State University News Service
Master Gardeners have used underutilized space within the Sixth Ward Garden Park to grow produce and donate it to the Helena Food Share.

BOZEMAN – The Montana State University Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education Program, or SNAP-Ed program, awarded six Growing Together Montana mini grants this year to Master Gardeners across the state.

Growing Together mini grants help fund materials for Master Gardener volunteer donation garden projects. Mini grants can be used to purchase materials like seeds, fencing and harvest supplies for food pantry donation gardens.

The Montana Master Gardner Program provides technical assistance and research-based information on consumer horticulture to people in all Montana communities through qualified volunteers.

The grants, worth up to $2,000, have been used to start, reinvigorate or maintain donation gardens. Produce from the gardens will be distributed to local food banks and organizations that serve families with limited resources. Produce recipients will also receive an invitation for free in-person and virtual nutrition education classes taught by MSU Extension nutrition educators.

The 2021 projects that received grants are listed below:

Sixth Ward Garden Park, Helena: Master Gardeners have used underutilized space within the park to grow produce and donate it to the Helena Food Share.

Old Hays Community Garden, Fort Belknap Reservation: Master Gardeners created a new garden on a plot that was donated by the tribal council. This project has attracted many community volunteers who are first-time gardeners.

“I believe having fresh produce right in the neighborhood has been the greatest impact,” said Hillary Maxwell, who is leading the Old Hays project. “Community members are getting more comfortable with the garden space and are appreciating its value.”

Northern Cheyenne Reservation Donation Garden, Busby: Master Gardeners planted fruit trees near a local school for future donations to community food banks.

Helping Hands Food Bank Garden, Hardin: Master Gardeners constructed five raised beds on the food bank property with the help of the Montana Farm to School and Montana FoodCorps programs.

“People have been interested in the garden, have asked how to build raised beds and have even expressed interest in the soil,” said Andrea Berry, MSU Extension SNAP-Ed Instructor in Hardin. “It has certainly captured the attention of many and raised awareness about gardening simply by being built and maintained in such a noticeable location.”

Sagebrush Food Pantry Garden, Shelby: Master Gardeners revitalized a garden space to use for produce donations.

Fort Peck Reservation Donation Garden, Poplar: Master Gardeners worked to promote food sovereignty for Fort Peck tribes by creating a garden on donated land that was previously used for grain production.

For more information visit the Growing Together Montana website or contact Lydia Sakowski at or 406-994-6022.