Anne McHale is a Service Member in Glendive. 

I’m not going to beat the “February in Montana, just trying to stay sane” drum anymore. Let’s go ahead and all agree on the assumption that the weather outside is frightful and local food, well… scarce. However, that doesn’t mean that we are not being productive and learning and planning for when the frost finally abates!


Who wouldn’t want to receive this beautiful beet-dyed Valentine?

In addition to Spring planning, we’re still having lots of fun with fruits and veggies in the classroom. More specifically, we’ve been experimenting with beets. After all, Valentine’s Day and beets go together like peanut butter and jelly, Bert and Ernie, sugar and spice, you get the picture. There is something inspiring about doing an activity with kids and knowing other FoodCorps members and the students they serve are doing the same thing across the state and around the country.

This Fall, I helped my farmer harvest and store some beets, many of which are still in layers of sand in the cellar, but all of which are too precious to turn into art supplies. Unfortunately, the local grocery stores in Glendive don’t see it fit to carry fresh beets this time of year, so I was forced to purchase canned beets for the deep red juice which we would use as paint and ink for our carved potato stamps. We also supplemented the potato stamps with other veggies that make cool patterns like onion, Napa cabbage and cauliflower. Then we got creative with our Valentine’s messaging with sayings such as, “My heart beets for you.”


A creative beet Valentine from Red Lodge!

In summary, we made a MESS. Another FoodCorps Service Member passed along a tip cut beets into very thin strips when feeding them to kids to make them more appealing. Surprisingly, this worked! (Along with a dash of positive peer pressure.) After all, there are always a few kids in every group who will try (and love!) anything they are fed. One of my keys to success in this work is figuring out who those kids are!


Check out this scrumptious beet salad served for lunch
in Red Lodge in conjunction with beet Valentine activities!

In planning for this year’s garden, there’s one thing I know for sure, and that is many more beets will be planted. Or at least enough to have some squirreled away for next Valentine’s Day!