PEAS Farm: Please allow me to introduce myself...

Hi friends, I’ve been writing to you each week for the past month and realized that I never did introduce myself.  I’m Ellie, the Garden City Harvest PEAS Farm Caretaker.  I really love the title “Caretaker,” — it is truly what we: that’s me, Garden City Harvest staff and interns, and the many small homegrown* farms in the five valleys — are doing.  We are farmers, but we aren’t farming the land for all it’s got, we are taking care that the plants we grow and the communities we feed are well nourished for this year and many years to come.

There’s a lot of respect and reverence for me in that idea.

This is my third season working on Missoula farms.  I started out working at Clark Fork Organics (CFO) and last season I was a Teaching Assistant at the PEAS farm while contracting one or two days a week with CFO.

Besides farming, I keep pretty busy around Missoula.  I’m a graduate student at the University working on a Masters in Environmental Studies with a focus on sustainable agriculture.  I get the pleasure of working with Dr. Neva Hassanein, a great activist whom I am sure many of you know, and Josh Slotnick, our own PEAS Farm Director.  I also organize the Garden City Lady Arm Wrestlers (GCLAW), a fun group of women who put on a show and lay down arms to raise money for Missoula-area not-for-profits.  Our first ever event was a benefit for Garden City Harvest in January 2012 and you’ll next catch us at the Zootown Arts Community Center’s Block Party coming up on July 20th.

Over four years ago I moved here after getting my bachelors at the University of Virginia.  At that time I thought I’d eventually be doing performing arts programming and had begun working in that field as an intern in jazz programming at the Kennedy Center in D.C.  My degree reflected this interest and is in the very useful Modern Studies of Literature and Music.  I put it right to work by going into child welfare organizing as an AmeriCorps volunteer with Court Appointed Special Advocates in Helena and followed that up with another year of AmeriCorps leading a trail crew for the Montana Conservation Corps, both jobs had a lot of literature and music in them.

After that I did begin farming, but over the past couple years I’ve also had the opportunity to work at the Zootown Arts Community Center as an Administrative Assistant and at Great Harvest Bread Company, where you might still find me kneading dough and staying warm in the winter time.

So, if we haven’t met yet from one of these other affiliations, please do introduce yourself.  I love hearing jokes, though am not a reliable source to supply them.  If you’ve got a good one or a bad one, do tell.

*The PEAS Farm is certified homegrown by the Montana Sustainable Growers Union, who uses the OMRI to create standards for growing food and works specifically in our area. As the Growers Union states in their mission:

“For organic farmers, this relationship is being defined by organic certification under the National Organic Program. We appreciate the value of certification for growers who cannot engage in a direct relationship with their customers. Our organization, on the other hand, will prioritize the relationship between growers and customers, thus enhancing the value of community and a local economy.

Most Growers’ Union members have been certified organic in the past, and some still are. The Growers’ Union provides a local, accessible alternative to organic certification, as well as encouragement for small producers and our customers.”