Our Mission:

To alleviate food insecurity among the low-income community in Billings by providing gardening opportunities; empowering people to gain the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to make healthy nutritional choices; and fostering a sense of community.

Our Vision:

We envision a community in which all residents have access to nutrient-dense, wholesome foods; gardening opportunities; and community support.

The Need

According to the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), food insecurity describes the reduction in food intake, quality, variety, or desirability due to financial or food access limitations.1 In Montana, 14.6% of people and 22.0% of children are food insecure. In Yellowstone County, MT, alone, 12.0% of people and 18.9% of children lack food security.23 Over fifty thousand Montana residents live in food deserts, which are regions without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.45 Not only is access to fresh, healthy food a major barrier for many in our community, but nutrition illiteracy also precludes people from preparing healthy meals. Poor nutritional options and choices lead to malnourishment and obesity, which are linked to a host of negative health consequences.

In conjunction with the Americorps Billings Metro VISTA Program (BMVP), the Housing Authority of Billings (HAB) established the Community Gardens Project in 2012 with the goal of alleviating food insecurity in the Billings low-income community. Since then, the Project has expanded to include three garden sites across Billings, directly serving over 450 people. The Project offers a bucket garden program to serve people with limited gardening space. It also provides educational resources and classes, including a children’s summer gardening program that aims to curb summer nutrition and learning loss. The HAB Community Gardens Project believes that community gardens and community food security programs are essential to helping people save money, access affordable and nutritious food, learn valuable skills, and build a healthy community. 

1.        “Definitions of Food Security.” Economic Research Service.USDA.http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us.aspx

2.        “Map the Meal Gap 2015: Overall Food Insecurity in Montana by County in 2015.” Feeding America.2015.                                                                                http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/our-research/map-the-meal-gap/2013/MT_AllCounties_CDs_MMG_2013.pdf

3.        “Map the Meal Gap 2014: Child Food Insecurity in Montana by County in 2014.” Feeding America.2014.

4.        “Hungry in Montana: Factors Contributing to Emergency Food Needs. 2012 Client Hunger Survey.” Montana Food Bank Network.2012.

5.        “Food Deserts.” Agricultural Marketing Service. USDA. <apps.ams.usda.gov/fooddesserts>

 

Our Programs

Whitetail Run Garden: This 7,000 square-foot garden is located at the Whitetail Run Apartments in the Heights. It offers 50 plots for individuals/families, children, and communal use. It also features an herb bed, an Americans with Disability Act – approved bed, and a pumpkin patch. Located next to a park, this garden is the primary site for many of our summer events and parties. APPLICATION

 

Pleasantview Garden: This garden features 20 standing, raised beds for Pleasantview Apartments’ elderly population. Three in-ground community beds were also added in 2014 to offer residents strawberries, potatoes, rhubarb, and wildflowers. APPLICATION

 

St. Johns Garden: This garden began with two raised beds in 2013. Two additional beds were added in 2014. Residents at the St. Johns Apartments may communally harvest such vegetables as tomatoes, peas, pumpkins, salad greens, and flowers. APPLICATION

 

Bucket Garden Program: Many people face space limitations when it comes to gardening. To accommodate such limitations, we offer HAB residents the opportunity to garden in compact buckets. Our “Bucketeers" receive without charge a bucket full of healthy soil, hand tools, gloves, a selection of seeds, and plant care guidelines. APPLICATION

 

 VOLUNTEER WITH HAB!

Here at the HAB Community Gardens
 we are always in need of help from
our Billings community. There is 
something for everyone from
basic garden care to teaching
classes about gardening, nutrition,
and cooking. If you
have skills, knowledge and

time to share, come join us.

VOLUNTEER APPLICATION











See you next year!

  HAB COMMUNITY GARDENS PROJECT