Total loan: $9,000
Hamilton, MT, United States / Agriculture
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Not that long ago, we both worked in very different sorts of fields: Mary taught biology at a small college in Oregon, and Noah worked as a sustainable agriculture consultant in the tropics of Asia and Africa, running independent conservation and storytelling projects as well. Though our graduate degrees from the University of Montana took us in very different directions for several years, growing and eating good food were always close to home. We both grew up with gardens, and after we nested in together when Noah moved back to the US, we used every available inch of our urban backyard for food: restoring weedy raised beds and a forgotten asparagus patch, building our first chicken coop, and foraging for wild edibles through the neighborhood and surrounding forest. We’ve come a long way since that first homely chicken coop, including a move back to Montana, a year of homestead farming (not selling, but growing a full year’s worth of our own vegetables, meat, and eggs), and eventually buying a farm of our own, determined to grow enough to feed our community and provide our own living. When you understand that we see food and farming as a way to be a part of our community, both local and global, it may seem like less of a jump from our former work in education, ecology, conservation, and storytelling, to being a farm. Our growing practices include integrating animals for pest management, fertility building, and providing healthy locally grown protein. We place an immense focus on feeding the soil to build up the health of our plants through cover crops, deep mulching, and on-farm composting.