Notes from the Director: PEAS please!

EVST student harvests carrots
You might have read this article in the Missoulian. Last week, the Mayor presented an idea to the Missoula County Public School Board – that the City purchase the PEAS Farm property, and 3 acres of soccer fields next door from MCPS.

We at Garden City Harvest would love this opportunity – offering a chance at what we like to call land security.

The idea is this: the City would purchase the 13 acres, encompassing the neighboring soccer fields and the PEAS Farm and, in turn, offer Garden City Harvest a very long term lease (40 + years), preserving the land for the community, for food, for education – for a long, long time (in perpetuity, in fact).  A very long term lease makes better sense for the farm’s life expectancy.  This is a huge step for Missoula’s food security, for our farms and for Missoula’s open spaces.

The City is offering to pay the land’s appraised value and no more. This will come out of Open Space bond funding and private donations. There are no new taxes involved with the proposed purchase. Rather this will utilize funds dedicated to open space. One of the five priorities of the 2006 Open Space Bond is agriculture.

Everyone wins – the PEAS Farm is preserved, the citizens of Missoula have access to this multi-faceted farm, open space funding is used to protect this piece of ag land that is beloved by so many, and the School District gets $1.3 million in much-needed funding.

Return on investment:I think everyone can understand the importance of educating

beets held over the fields of the PEAS Farm

our children – over 4,000 of them – by providing a connection between the food on their plates and the plants in the soil. We help heal teens who are referred to us through Missoula’s Youth Drug Court, by helping them sink their hands in the soil and learning important job and life skills. Members of the community drop in to volunteer, and take veggies home in return. More than 90 CSA members pick up weekly shares of vegetables. University students learn in an outdoor classroom. This is where community is built – we offer Missoula an agriculturally supported community – a place where folks of all walks of life farm, learn and eat together.

We want a farm right here in the middle of town – that’s how it serves the city of Missoula.   Youth Harvest teens depend on riding the bus, a bike or skateboard to the farm. Volunteers come to the farm because it is a beautiful, inviting part of their community. Students of all ages use this property as an outdoor classroom. Missoula’s school children visit the PEAS Farm for a morning or afternoon field trip. If you’ve ever visited the farm, you know it’s a magical place. If you’ve never been, please stop by any time.

If you agree, please let the MCPS school board know your thoughts at