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Homestead Organics Farm
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"I'm sorry for the background noise. I'm washing produce while we talk." Enter Laura Garber.
Laura, with her husband Henry, own and operate Homestead Organics Farm, located just a few miles south of Hamilton, Montana. She handles the planting, weeding and harvesting (with the help of a few volunteers) while he oversees the bed preparation, tractor work and livestock care.
The fourteen acre farm is divided up into six units of crop land: three of which are always in cover while the other three are being used to produce certified organic crops. This "three years on three years off" system of crop rotation is just one of the sustainable techniques Homestead Organics Farm uses.
Homestead Organics Farm has several advantages that have helped it become a successful farming operation. The first advantage is the farm's location. It sits between Highway 93 and Skalkaho Highway, making it highly visible to road traffic. Another advantage is that the farm has plenty of access to water, which is a rarity in many drought stricken areas of the country. To combat the constant high winds, Laura has made sure each of her greenhouses are built sturdy and every corner post is reinforced with concrete. What started thirteen years ago as a small half acre market garden has grown into a full time way of life for Laura and her husband, Henry.
"Everyone should grow something! Interaction with plants is in our primordial nature."
They enjoy the great views western Montana has to offer as well as the ample sunlight which powers their two solar energy systems. The five kilowatt system provides power to their two story farm house which includes a loft apartment above and a walk in cooler, vegetable preparation area, and a commercial kitchen below. The two kilowatt PV system powers their home as well as one of the irrigation pumps their farm depends on.
Homestead Organics Farm produces certified organic mixed vegetables in the spring and summer and focuses on raising poultry in the fall. They raise meat chickens, eggs and also specialize in producing nearly two hundred heritage turkeys for the Thanksgiving holiday. They hatch about eighty percent of the birds they raise. The farm also offers catering for small or large parties featuring their own certified organic produce as well as other Montana grown foods.
The farm's slogan is "Building a Community Through Food." Laura takes this responsibility very seriously. Homestead Organics Farm actively markets in the local community in several ways. They regularly attend the Hamilton Farmers Market, they offer a summer and a fall CSA through their farm, on Tuesday's they operate an on-site farm stand , they sell their produce to a few small local restaurants and coffee shops as well as participating in the Farm to School program and often hosting school fields trips to their farm. Homestead Organics is also hosting 'Farm Camp' for the second year, bringing area children to the farm for two weeks of summer day camp.
Laura and Henry continue to invest in their local community by supporting small businesses. If they cannot supply what is needed for a catering event, they will buy it local. They also take their children to a locally owned pizzeria for a once a week family night.
"Buy and support local and keep that money circulating within your community."
"Food is the common denominator for everyone," Laura says simply. She explains how food is a great way to get people together who otherwise wouldn't interact.
This year Homestead Organics Farm will shorten their summer CSA season in order to pursue a new venture which allows their customers to receive vegetable plant starts and a detailed plan for a ten by ten garden in their yard.
Laura hopes to "plant the seed" (no pun intended) and spark an interest in gardening among her customers. Not only can customers receive top quality, organically grown local produce on a regular basis, but they can now start producing their own crops.
"It's like the fish theory," Laura begins. "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."
"Every little bit matters to the health of a family."
Laura regularly obtains informational publications from the ATTRA website. In fact, she has several printed off and placed in a binder as an "on the farm" resource. In the past she has also used the ATTRA website to advertise available internship positions on the farm.
Homestead Organics farm recently hosted a tour of their poultry operation and facilities, as part of the NCAT organized Pastured Poultry workshop series funded by the Risk Management Agency, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture. The farm also invites schools and community groups to tour the farm facilities or just to spend time playing with the goats!
Learn more about Homestead Organics Farm at www.homesteadorganicsfarm.com
The Sustainable Producer Spotlight is offered as a celebration of those who practice sustainable and organic agriculture and is not intended as an endorsement of the featured operations or products.
This page was last updated on: December 15, 2014