We are so excited to see you for your first farm share pick up. For Great Falls and Power members, your first pick up will be Thursday June 9. Helena and Choteau members will pick up Thursday, June 16.
Full share members will pick up every week. Half share members will pick up every other week. Following is the schedule for half share members:
Great Falls, Power:
Here are the details for pick ups:
Where: 2509 Upper River Road, Great Falls, MT 59405
When: Thursdays (starting June 9) from 4:30-6 p.m.
Where: 705 Saddle Drive, Helena, MT (our super volunteer Susan's house)
When: Thursdays (starting June 16) from 5:30-7 p.m.
Where: On the farm
When: Thursdays (starting June 9), 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. (please contact us if you need to make other arrangements)
Where: To be determined
When: Thursdays (starting June 16), To be determined
A few notes:
>These first few shares will be early-season crops like greens
(galore) and cold-hardy things. We'll ramp up as the summer progresses.
This is truly eating in season. By July and August, we'll be getting
into tomatoes and peppers and eggplant and cucumbers and summer squash
and the like. By fall, potatoes, onions, garlic and other fall crops
will come on. The season runs 16 weeks.
>Each pick-up day, look for an email from us with a reminder as well
as some recipes to inspire you in the kitchen. (We love to use recipes
from members too, so share if you have a great one!)
>Please remember to bring bags or boxes to pick up your veggies.
>Each week, we create the shares based on what's fresh and ready for
picking. Within those constraints though, we aim to please, so as the
season gets rolling, if there's anything you'd like more of, or less of,
in your share, let us now and we'll do our best to accommodate. And, if
ever you'd like to stop by our market stand at the Great Falls Farmers'
Market and pick up extras, we'd love to see you there!
>If you can't pick up, we're happy to make other arrangements, but do
try to give us at least 24 hours heads up so we can make those
arrangements and don't end up with more veggies than we need for the
>We also have our heritage and ancient grains, flour, and sourdough
bread available for add-ons. We do round out the early summer shares
occasionally with samples of our grains, but if you'd like to purchase
any in larger quantities, let us know!
We are so looking forward to growing your food this summer. Thanks for supporting local food and family farming!
The summer season seems to sneak up on us every year, but this year, it's been extra sneaky.
This winter was a long one (aren't they all?) as we grappled with some health issues (mostly fine now!) that gave us a late start but also helped us better prioritize by focusing on what's important.
So, this season will bring some changes at the farm. We've scaled back on a few things (we've capped the number of traditional summer CSA shares and reined in vegetable production somewhat) so we can expand other enterprises (like the Farmers' Market Share program and a double-down on grains and sourdough bread).
Life (and business) lesson #458: Sometimes you have to say no to some things so you can say yes (and not just a yes, but a Heck Yes!) to others.
It's a tricky balance. You might even call it precarious, but that's running a small business or a family farm for you -- living in an almost constant state of flux. It means being vigilant in choosing which enterprises and crops and markets are going to best serve your land, your community, your bottom line and your family.
Sometimes, it feels like we should have it all "figured out" after seven years in business. But if we've learned anything, it's that "figured out" is like "caught up" -- a fictional state of being.
And with the right intention and mindset, flux isn't chaos. It's innovation and experimentation and the latter two is where true change and true progress happens.
So, here's what we're working on in 2016 on the farm:
Artisan sourdough bread made from the Sonora Heritage Wheat we grow, grind and bake. We're expanding the baking and adding in some variety: Seed bread, olive rosemary bread, focaccia and straight up sourdough, which we call "Papa Bread," because that's what our 3-year-old yells (and we mean YELLS) for in the morning. We will be selling bread at the Great Falls Farmers' Market (Saturdays starting June 4) but we're also in the midst of applying for a wholesale license, which will allow us to sell bread farther and wider eventually.
More sales and production of our ancient and heritage grains, both for home bakers and cooks and as seed for farms like ours. This year, we're focusing on Prairie Farro, Bronze Barley, Sonora Heritage Wheat, Einkorn, Japanese Hulless Popcorn (Popcorn!) and Early Riser corn (For cornmeal! Tortillas! Polenta!). We will continue to offer these grains whole but also hope to have our big mill up and running this summer to be able to start offering fresh flour as well. And soon, we'll start selling some of these grains as seed to other farmers interested in these unique, important varieties.
Fresh vegetables sold at the farmers market, through some grocers and restaurants and in our CSAs. As we mentioned above, we're focusing on a smaller traditional CSA this year to best serve that membership and offering more Farmers' Market Shares, which are like pre-paid cards for shareholders. Instead of us picking what veggies to include, customers get to pick whatever they'd like from our market stand at the Great Falls Farmers' Market. We're still growing all kinds of veggies, but we are scaling back somewhat to hone in on specific crops. You'll also find some of our fresh veggies at 2Js Fresh Market in Great Falls and on occasion at awesome local restaurants like Electric City Coffee.
And, in general, giving longer-term projects like soil health and our budding orchard more attention and care. (The orchard -- pears, apples and plums -- is still in its infancy, as you can see in the awesome photo by Missy Sprouse below).
In the tech world, they'd call all of this somewhat of a "pivot" and that
seems particularly applicable considering the other, agricultural,
definition of pivot. We love the imagery the term gives -- the water direction and flow
may change slightly but the whole thing still operates from its center.
The engine driving the center of our pivot is running a farm that nourishes our family, our farm, our
communities and our planet.
As you can see by the sea of eggplant above, we have a bumper crop of eggplant this year. Eggplant is a delicious, hearty vegetable, but it's unfamiliar to a lot of people (including us before we started growing it.) So, here's one of our favorite, and easiest ways to cook eggplant.
Starting this month, we'll be sending out regular emails with updates
and recipes from the farm. The aim is to keep you informed about the
farm, but also to share news and views about the local food landscape in
general. Click here to sign up for our email newsletter.
Here's the first of the season:
This month, we're gearing up for our 7th (!) growing season. It's just
nuts to think it's been that long since we first put seeds in the ground
and took our first farm share sign ups. We've grown so much as people,
as a couple, as a family (we've grown to a family of four since we
started) as farmers and small business owners.
You may have read this piece in the New York Times and this piece in Salon
detailing how popular, but hard it is to do what we do. There's a lot
of truth in what these two pieces detail: The economics of the small
farm are challenging; It's nearly impossible to run a small farm without
off-farm income; and as competition in the sustainable ag market
increases, it all gets harder.
But, the picture isn't as gloomy as all that. When we set out seven
years ago, the market for local veggies in Central Montana was nascent.
The market for heritage and ancient local grains was even more nascent.
Yet, here we are, seven years later (even though data from the Small
Business Administration shows that only 50 percent of small businesses
survive their first five years) growing and expanding -- into new areas
and into new markets. That's not to say it hasn't been challenging to
make ends meet and yes, we both still work off-farm jobs. We've had to
"pivot," as they say in the tech world, more often to find more
sustainable models and methods and markets, but we're still here, our
customers are still here and we're still making it work and loving what
Today, local food is growing in Central Montana with local grocers,
restaurants and caterers looking for more products from farmers like us
and with customers asking and committing to local food from local
farmers. In some ways, it pays to be working in a market that's just
starting to grow because it allows us all to experiment and grow
together. We learn to stay resilient and courageous.
The seedlings are sprouting as I type and that always brings hope,
enthusiasm and energy. It's one of the things we love about farming --
every 12 months, we get a new beginning.
Here are 10 things we're excited about as we start this new beginning:
1. We're growing earlier and earlier every year. And,
later and later too. Already, we have kale and chard in the ground. And
boy, these are resilient buggers -- they've already been frozen a few
times and the wind hasn't exactly been kind. But, Jacob always says, "we
don't give plants enough credit sometimes." And he's right. Our goal is
to have this food ready in May for harvest and delivery to one of our
biggest supporters: 2J's Fresh Market in Great Falls.
2. Speaking of, did you know that in addition to buying our
veggies through our Community Supported Agriculture farm share programs
and at the Great Falls Farmers Market, you can now also buy them at
several local grocers?2J's Fresh Market is our biggest buyer but you can also find our salad mix and other veggies at Daisy's Deli and most everything we grow at our friend Jill Owen's awesome store Mountain Front Market in Choteau. Bert and Ernie's has also been using some of our local fare (for three amazing farm-to-table events last year) and soon, you'll find our goodies at the new Electric City Coffee.
It's been so fun to work with other small businesses to expand the
offerings for local food in Central Montana. And, the diversification is
good for our bottom line. We're always trying to find the right balance
of direct sales, CSA and wholesale. I think we're getting to the sweet
4. We're always trying to innovate and experiment and
this year is no exception. Some fun things we're trying: developing a
consistent red bell pepper, growing sunflowers for seed, trying out a
white lentil variety, improving our popcorn varieties, expanding our
heritage barley and wheat varieties, expanding our orchard, and
installing a moveable high tunnel.
5. We're expanding and changing our grain business to include mail-order direct sales through our grain-of-the-month club, which we call the "Grainy Day Box"
subscription program. Grainy Day members get a monthly package of 2 or 4
pounds of our heritage and ancient grains delivered right to their
door, with recipes and ideas for how to enjoy these resilient,
6. This month, we unwrapped our stone mill and started
the process of being able to offer fresh, stone-ground flour from our
heritage and ancient grains. We're so excited to fire it up and start
selling. We'll keep you updated on our progress. We're hoping to have
everything in place to meet regulations and start selling and shipping
by early fall.
7. We, and a few of our customers, have been enjoying Jacob's 100% whole wheat artisan sourdough bread
for years, made from our Sonora Heritage wheat. This year, we're
scaling up to offer the bread, which we call "Farmer Bread" in larger
quantities and more widely, so we invested in a double oven and Jacob's
been fine tuning the recipe all winter. We'll be selling at the Great
Falls Farmers Market when it begins in June, but have designs on being
able to offer the bread more widely as soon as we get our mill and
baking building up to code.
8. We are a founding member of a new cooperative, growing, developing, and selling locally adapted, resilient vegetable seeds. Prairie Heritage Farm and a half dozen other farms have created the Triple Divide Organic Seeds Cooperative.
Look for our seed rack at local grocery stores in the future. For now,
you can either pick up seeds at our booth at the Farmers Market in Great
Falls or they're available at Third
Street Market, Whitefish; Delaney's Landscape Center, Polson; Swan
River Nursery, Bigfork; Missoula Food Coop, Missoula; Good Food Store,
Missoula; Planet Natural, Bozeman; Real Food Store, Helena; and Lakeland
Feed & Supply, Hamilton.
9. We are delighted to welcome Ben and Sarah Klein and
their little man, Benjamin, to the farm this season as apprentices.
They've already arrived and have folded beautifully into the farmstead.
They're anxious to get growing and we're anxious for you to meet them.
10. We have grown our farm "family" with about 20 laying hens and 6 sheep (with 3 of them pregnant). If you are interested in eggs or lamb, please let us know.
I just noticed how often I used the word "resilient" in this newsletter,
which, I think, is telling. Resiliency drives everything we do, really
-- from the seeds we put in the ground to the food system we're working
on; from the business models we use to the relationships we're creating
and even to the children we're raising.
Thanks for being a part of that resiliency.
Until next time, may you be warm, well-fed and happy.