Great Field Day at Lifeline Produce

Thanks so much for sending your interns and/or coming to our field day last week at Lifeline Produce in Victor! During a fascinating tour of the farm, we learned about Steve and Luci’s crop rotation system and use of specialized farm tools. And we got to enjoy a delicious potluck after the tour!
 

With 28 attendees, we had a large and diverse group including interns from other farms in the area and a handful of people from the FVCC Integrated Agriculture & Food Systems Program up in the Flathead.
 

Nearly all of the attendees said their knowledge of crop rotation methods and specialized farm implements improved!  One attendee noted that it was valuable “seeing systems other than what I am used to and learning the variety of methods used.”  Another attendee enjoyed getting a total picture of how good, organic food is produced.” That’s what we like to hear!

Up Next!  Field Day at Paula’s Garden in Paradise!
Wednesday, July 15th from 10am – 12pmfollowed by a potluck lunch
Paula’s Garden is located on the site of Paradise Gardens, a family farm with three distinct businesses raising everything from melons to peppers to lavender for all types of wholesale and direct markets. Paula started raising flowers and other crops twenty years ago and has found a market so large she can’t fill it!  She’s on a mission to share with other farmers the joys of growing flowers as supplemental or winter income projects and the ways she’s used flowers to create a life she loves.  She’ll be telling us all about her flowers and the market opportunities that exist for these high-value crops, as well as how she’s grown her online sales, while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.  For more info on Paula’s Garden, follow these links for her website and Etsy page.

Save It, Don’t Pave It

ACT NOW. It’s time to show your support for Missoula farmland. Our County is about to make changes to the Subdivision Regulations that will have a big impact on the remaining farmland. The future of local farmland is hanging in the balance. Let the Commissioners know community farms matter to you. Tell them we need meaningful protections for ag land. Public comment period ends JULY 3.

Missoula County’s proposed framework for Subdivision regulations would require a developer to pay a fee when a proposed subdivision would have a substantial impact on agriculture. Those fees would be put into a fund and used to purchase farmland.

The measure is a step in the right direction but doesn’t go far enough!

The new proposal:

  • Removes Local Soils From Protection – The new language only protects farmland that is situated on soils classified as having prime or state importance, not those on local soils. Removing local soils from protection would mean 62% of current farmland in Missoula County would no longer be protected. Classifying soils for this purpose contradicts Montana state law.
  • Allows Funds To Be Spent On Things Other Than Farmland – CFAC strongly supports the creation of a fund for farmland, similar to the Open Space fund. The problem with the proposed language is that it would allow the funds to be spent on things such as education or infrastructure as well as land. We maintain that the funds should be spent exclusively on purchasing agricultural land. Our local farmland is a vanishing resource.
  • Needs To Provide A Suite of Developer Options – Requiring developers to pay a fee when a subdivision would significantly impact agriculture is a good option in some instances. But it should not be the only option. In other instances, a developer might prefer set aside land on the proposed site that will remain in agriculture, or preserve farmland on another site. Farmland cannot be preserved with money alone. Once farmland disappears, it cannot be replaced, and no amount of money can fix that.

Missoula County is seeking comments through July 3 on the new Framework. Will you join CFAC in voicing your concerns? Tell the County Commissioners the restrictions don’t do enough to protect farmland!

Click here to post your comment on the County’s website:

Ag Comment

For more details, here is a link to the County’s proposed Framework:

Framework

Updated Subdivision Framework Released by CAPS

Greetings fellow farmland supporters! Subdivision development is heating up again in Missoula County and so is the issue of agricultural land preservation. On June 2 Missoula County Community and Planning Services (CAPS) released a draft regulatory framework that, if adopted, would pave the way for more development and less mitigation. NOT GOOD. Let’s raise our voices! Help us remind the commissioners of the wide community support for local farmers and farms. We know this process has been frustrating for long-time agricultural advocates. For the past few years, every time we thought we were getting somewhere, the process came to a halt. But we can’t give up. What we are fighting for is too important. CFAC is determined to see this project come to completion this summer. If we don’t get protections in place soon, there will be no farmland to protect. We need your help!

Upcoming Events:

June 11 Round table discussion on the latest Subdivision Regulation rewrite this Thursday at 10 a.m. in the City Council Chambers. 

July 21 CAPS presentation to the Planning Board

September 1 Public hearing at the Planning Board

September 15 Planning Board presentation to BCC

Public comments will be allowed at the June 11 round table, and your presence in the audience would be greatly appreciated. Let’s show the commissioners that there is public support for agricultural land preservation. Let them know the public is paying attention. Early next week we will be sending out a summary of the framework highlighting the significant differences from previous regulation. We will include related documents to get you up to speed on the latest developments.

Great Field Day and Another Coming Soon!

What a great field day last week at The Golden Yoke in St. Ignatius!  Laura and Connie gave us a fantastic tour and thorough explanations about their decision-making processes around fencing and pasture.  And we tasted their delicious ice cream – vanilla, mint chocolate chip, and coffee, oh my!

 ​ With 21 attendees from as far as Geraldine and as nearby as just a mile or two, we had a great and diverse group, including staff and interns from Lifeline Produce, County Rail Farm, Mill Crick Farm, Foothill Farm, and more.
Every attendee said their knowledge of fencing and pasture management improved!  As one noted in their evaluation, “it was great to have an opportunity to ask questions and hear the nitty gritty details about pasturing and grazing.”  That’s what we like to hear!
Up Next!
Field Day at Lifeline Produce in Victor!
Wednesday, June 17 from 5pm-7pm, followed by a potluck dinner

Started in 1978 by Steve Elliott and Luci Brieger, Lifeline Produce encompasses about 40 acres of pasture, hay, mixed vegetables, flowers, and herbs.
They’ll be focusing on the ways in which they incorporate livestock into their rotations and how they’ve specialized their tools and equipment for their specific farm operation.
For more info on Lifeline Produce, see their Homegrown profile here.

Fix the Rule! Comment by May 26!

Back in 2007, then-candidate Obama rolled out his rural policy platform, which included a very specific promise to farmers. Obama said he would close the loopholes that mega-farms use to get unlimited farm subsidies, because he understood how they use them to bid small and mid-sized farmers off the land. IMG_20140917_082802The main stumbling block is the definition of “actively engaged in farming” because it currently allows mega-farms to get subsidies based on people who aren’t actually farmers!

Now, the USDA has released a new rule proposal to redefine eligibility terms for farm program payments and they’re looking for your feedback, which is a good thing because the proposed rule fails to implement anything remotely resembling the real farm subsidy reform that bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate approved in 2013.

That’s right!  Congress actually agreed to give the USDA the way to make real reforms on this rule, but the USDA has failed to do what they were asked to do. You can sign a petition started by the Center for Rural Affairs to quickly and easily submit a comment.  Encourage the USDA to strengthen these rules and create real farm policy reform!

Click here to sign the petition!

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