About the Farm
Fern Co.’s mission is two-part:
Continuously improve our soil’s health and fertility.
Provide the most nutrient-rich food to our customers.
Robust soil biology and fertility improves nutrient density in vegetables, which subsequently improves the health of its consumers. Good soil health is human health.
Fern Co. is certified USDA Organic, and offers a wide variety of nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits and herbs sold through our online store, where you can signup for our CSA program or purchase seasonal produce for pick-up at the Sour Doe Cafe/Farm Store. You can also find us at our local farmer’s market in Hamilton, MT on Saturdays from 9:00am – 12:30pm.
Learn more about our farm and its owners on our “About Us” Page.
Nestled at the base of St. Mary Peak in Stevensville, MT, Fern Co. sits on 10 acres of land. Our land is diverse with varying soils, topography and moisture. Unlike much of the land in the Bitterroot Valley, our land can actually suffer from too much water. We are at the confluence of McCalla Creek and Little Creek. McCalla Creek is a year-round creek that starts on the upper reaches of St. Mary Peak, and Little Creek is a seasonal stream that runs all but the summer months. This means that we have had to develop some preventative measures to reduce soil erosion and improve our drainage.
Soil health and fertility are always at the forefront of our minds and shapes our decision making. Plants have been working symbiotically with bacteria, animals and fungi for millennia. With the onset of modern agriculture heavily reliant upon artificial fertilizer and intensive tilling, our nation’s soil fertility and bio-mass has been decreasing at 10 times its replenish rate. How long until our soils have been completely exhausted? It’s unsure when, but what is sure is that it is going to happen within our lifetime if nothing is done. Fortunately, hundreds of smaller farms around our nation have been popping up, and many of them too have their soil at the forefront of their minds.
Our current soil varies significantly across our farm. We have silt deposits from McCalla creek, old pasture with 3.9% initial SOM, sand/rock hills from alluvial depositing, and even some marsh. Because of our valley’s geological history, soil depositions are wide ranging in the Bitterroot Valley. Some areas have feet of topsoil with high percentages of organic matter while other areas of the valley have less topsoil and more sand/rock subsoils. We generally have sandy soil in our fields. This means that we have good drainage but our organic matter is on the lower side. Therefore, we intend to increase this significantly across our field rows through the use of compost, cover cropping and mulching.