Food Sharing

The Healthy By Design Gardeners’ Market is designed to bring healthy, fresh, local, and affordable fruits and vegetables to the community. The market is also a social meeting place to celebrate health and nutrition. Healthy By Design is partnering with Billings Parks, Recreation, and Public Lands to bring the market to the South Park. The Gardeners’ Market is located in South Park on the corner of South 28th Street and Sixth Avenue South in Billings, MT. The season runs Thursdays from 4:30—6:30 from the second week of June through the first week in October.

If you would like to receive a weekly reminder and update about the Gardeners’ Market click here! For more information or if you have questions, leave a message at 406.651.6444 or email Master Gardener’s can receive credit towards their hours by donating surplus produce to this program. Log into your account and add the pounds.

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The Yellowstone Valley Food Hub, a project of the Yellowstone Valley Citizens’ Council, aims to revitalize our regional agricultural system, which once met 70% of Montana’s food needs. The Food Hub strives to link local producers and fresh, healthy food to local consumers and institutions. The food hub will raise awareness about the nutritional, environmental, and economic benefits of local foods.

A food hub is an entity that actively manages the collection, processing, marketing, and distribution of food products from area producers in order to strengthen their ability to satisfy individual, wholesale, and retail demand. We would love to hear your ideas and insights. To learn more, contact Maggie at (406) 248-1154 or email

~Submitted by Elizabeth Waddington



Master Gardeners at Billings Public Library


On Friday, April 13th, fifteen creative and ambitious Master Gardeners plus some of their family members used the Community Room at the library to host a Family Fun Night. it was open to the public with approximately 50 people in attendance. Educational displays on square foot gardening, garden tools, wise water use, pollination, good bugs, praying mantis, pine beetles and the Master Gardener Program were set up around the room.

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Merita talking with young girl

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Butler telling participants what he did

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Pat answering questions about African violets

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Karen H. at geranium table

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Vonnie heling with children’s activities.

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Casey D. and Cindy R.

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Pat M. and actors Bee, Ron, Merita and Joann

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Sharon Y. greeting guests

Those in attendance were told about the Master Gardener program and treated to a short skit “What is this?” in which they tried to determine who was telling the truth. The main activity for the evening was getting the audience to solve the Mystery at Orchard Manor as to why some plants were not doing well and who was responsible. Furthermore, there were children’s activities, drawings for gardening prizes, and snacks. Guests went home with zinnia plants, bulbs, square foot gardening packets and educational hand outs. This educational and fun event was immensely enjoyed by the participants as well as the volunteers.

~Submitted by Elaine Allard
~Photos by Joan Griffin

Billings Arbor Day

At 7:30am the twelve Master Gardener volunteers started a cool morning assembling the four work and display stations at a very beautiful Optimist Park in preparation for the 4th grade students that followed at 9am.

The first station was on the importance of pollinators of all kinds and their relationship to our healthy eating and wellbeing as well as the importance and benefits of trees to our world. They were then shown how to mix the ingredients for making seed bombs if they wanted to make more at home.

At the four tables the children began making the egg sized mud seed holder and rolled them in colored chalk. They were then led to a cleanup area and names were attached to their seed bombs. Each class was given about 15 minutes with each of the other presenters before the noon time celebrities spoke to them again of the importance of trees, the kind of trees planted many years ago in the beginning of the park and what kind of trees would be planted that day.

~ Submitted by Sheri Kisch

MG Education in the Community

Adulting 101 at the Billings Public Library

Amy helped launch a new library series designed to navigate your adult years! From 2-3 in the afternoon, it was geared toward adult learners who want to expand their knowledge of interesting and useful topics. Amy shared a video about Mel Bartholomew’s square foot gardening technique, showed the type of frame you can build, and then answered a variety of yard and garden questions from an audience of 20+ adults. Questions ranged from how much water should I give my lawn to what to do to ensure healthy tomato plants. At the end of the program, MSU Extension handouts were available for participants to take home.

Tree Pruning: Less fear with practice

Pruning. The word strikes a certain terror in those of us who love our plants but fear doing anything that might harm, disfigure or discourage them, although we know it is good for maintaining the health, vigor and appearance of the plant. You know who you are.

Some of us who had tried pruning have discovered hidden talents: making branch cuts look like they were gnawed off by teeth or shaping a Picasso-esque lopsided pine tree. Others, frozen by fear of pruning, surrendered by letting that shrub that promised to ‘grow more beautiful each year’ on its tag look like roadkill.

In April, a tree pruning workshop covering basic cutting techniques and introduction to the required tools for the job was attended by a group of Master Gardeners and some spouses who were gently coerced to be there. It was hosted by Pat Plantenberg (seriously, it is his real name), the Montana Director of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (RMC-ISA) and 2017 RMC-ISA Arborist of the Year, who obviously knows trees and pruning tools. His lopping shears are called Cindi. Geddit? Cindi Lauper, haha.

tree pruning 2.pngAfter inspecting the tools we brought (my new lopping shears did not pass muster, my ancient hand-medown bypass pruners did), Pat introduced us to various equipment for successful branch cutting such as bypass pruners, lopping shears, pole bypass pruners and hand saws. Using sample trees, he then demonstrated proper cuts based on his ‘Deciduous Tree Pruning Steps’. We were then allowed to try each equipment to practice pruning skills while applying these steps on some of the trees around Chiesa Plaza at MetraPark. Sawsall to clear tree suckers? Heck yeah! Pole bypass pruner to cut crossing branches? Done!

Many thanks to Pat for this educational and confidenceboosting workshop: for sharing his knowledge on correct tree pruning techniques, best practices, opportunity to use the proper tools and the hands-on experience. Tree pruning may still be challenging but Pat convinced the attendees that with practice and common sense, any vigorous tree with a Napoleonic compulsion to take over the world, can be tamed.

So next time you see this gardener carrying a sawsall and a newer Cindi, be prepared to hear a gleeful ‘timber!’ yell.

~Submitted by Suri Lunde

Moss Mansion News

Moss Mansion Features Summer 2018 Farm to Table Exhibit

Family diaries are among the interesting documents to be found in the archives at the Moss Mansion in Billings. Though Melville’s are the most numerous, she wasn’t big on painting detailed pictures with her writing. Even so, it is clear she enjoyed baking, and together with several cookbooks and recipe boxes it’s clear that food was a central part of many family traditions. After exploring the subject for the last couple of years, staff at the Moss have developed the material for this year’s summer exhibit – FARM TO TABLE: Family and Food in the Yellowstone Valley.

The exhibit explores the concepts of farming, agriculture, cooking, sustainability, and tradition in Montana over the last 150 years in the Yellowstone Valley. For the Moss family, like all of Billings, local agriculture and food traditions were integral to daily life.

In this exhibit visitors will find original farm equipment used on the agricultural land owned and developed by PB Moss, Moss family recipes, and insight into PB’s entrepreneurial spirit and success that was deeply tied to local agriculture. Stories will be shared from local families and tribes about their own experiences and food traditions that have developed in the local area.

Visitors can also expect to learn about contemporary producers and how local agriculture continues to be part of the fabric of Yellowstone Valley life in 2018. We have partnered with Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council’s Food Hub to connect our community with those local producers. Watch our calendar for upcoming dates for food and agriculture events related to this exhibit in 2018.

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FARM TO TABLE: Family and Food in Montana is an accompanying art exhibit to the Moss Mansion’s 2018 exhibit. The art exhibit explores farming, agriculture, cooking, sustainability, and tradition in Montana over the last 150 years. Twodimensional works in a variety of media and styles are included in the exhibition which will be on view to a local, national, and international population from May 2018 – September 2018.

~ Written by Jennette Rasch, submitted by Corinna Sinclair