The University of Montana received a $10,000 grant from Gov. Steve Bullock and the Growth Through Agriculture program this week, which will be used to improve the school's garden the farm to college program.
UM Dining garden manager Natasha Hegmann said part of the money will be used to expand the garden located behind the Lommasson Center.
Hegmann said they are hoping to move to a new location with enough space to triple the size of the garden.
A group of students did a site evaluation last year and found the courtyard between Craig, Elrod and Duniway Halls to be the best spot for a garden expansion, Hegmann said. However, a decision hasn’t been about where the second garden will be.
UM Dining director of health, nutrition and sustainability Rebecca Wade said they applied for the grant last fall after the student evaluation was completed.
“It was the first grant that UM Dining wrote and applied for,” Wade said. “Given the award ratios, we’re pretty proud that the first one got funded.”
Wade said what gets planted in the new gardens will depend on their location and what UM Dining thinks is useful based on student input.
The garden’s crop is mainly used by the Food Zoo and University Catering, according to their website.
The plants are grown in a closed-loop system that controls every step of the growth process. By saving seeds in the fall, growing them in the spring and then composting the waste material, the garden is highly sustainable.
UM Dining’s garden is mostly run by volunteers, though last year they employed six academic interns and invited classes to come occasionally work on the garden as well, Wade said.
Other recipients of the $208,700 grant include Philipsburg Brewery and the Western Montana Growers Cooperative.
According to the news release, the grant’s goal is to promote agricultural products by “adding value and increasing the accessibility to local, national and international markets."
“Agriculture is not only at the heart of Montana’s communities, it is part of the backbone of our state’s economy,” Gov. Bullock said. “These awards will allow these businesses to expand and enhance their operations, increasing demand for Montana agricultural products, creating jobs and introducing these products to new markets.”