By CODIE WYERS/Montana State News

Montana State University was recently selected as one of the “Sustainable 16” of this year’s Environmental March Madness Tournament, and given MSU’s track record for environmentalism, it should be a contender for the championship.

This tournament, working hand-in-hand with the NCAA college basketball championship, evaluates the strength of universities’ environmental degree programs, the environmental opportunities for students and the sustainability efforts on campus. The tournament begins by having a panel of distinguished judges pick the top 16 colleges from around the country. From there, they narrow their selection down to the “Environmental 8,” the “Finest 4” and the “Winner.”

To participate in the tournament, MSU department heads were asked to fill out a detailed survey describing the campus’s environmental programs.

The Sustainable Foods and Bio Energy Systems program at Montana State University is just one of the many projects aimed at making MSU more environmentally friendly. This program is an interdisciplinary degree program that promotes sustainable production, consumption and distribution of food. It educates a new generation of environmental leaders through hands-on experiences not only in the field but also through collaborative work in a classroom setting.

Another important effort of the Sustainable Foods and Bio Energy Systems program is the Towne’s Harvest Garden at MSU. Towne’s Harvest Garden is based at the university’s campus but is aimed at the community of Bozeman, where it hopes to foster community-supported agriculture.

People from all around Bozeman can go out to Towne’s Harvest Garden and pay a standard fee in order to receive 14 weeks of fresh produce. In turn, this fee provides food to approximately one family of four each week.

Another important part of this program is its partnership with the Gallatin Valley Food Bank. Last year alone, Towne’s Harvest Garden gave the food bank almost 7,000 pounds overall of fresh produce. Each week, the food bank picks up their share of produce to distribute to their clients. The program’s success has resulted in a lot of positive feedback.

Edited by Rebecca Marston

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