Last week CFAC hosted its fourth field day of the season at Lifeline Produce, an 80-acre farm just outside of Victor, MT. A drizzly fall day did not deter farmers from across Western Montana to come and learn about what it takes to reduce a farm’s carbon footprint.
At Lifeline Produce, Steve Elliot and Luci Brieger work hard to grow fresh, delicious food for their community and actively look for ways to train beginning farmers through their apprentice program. They are also always looking for ways to minimize their farm’s carbon footprint.
Steve currently manages Lifeline Produce’s many carbon-reducing systems. Field Day participants got to see Steve innovative biodiesel system, where he converts oil produced from a local restaurant into biodiesel, which powers all of their tractors and delivery vehicles. Lifeline Produce also has solar panels that help offset their power needs.
In addition to creating their own fuel and power to run their operation, Steve and Luci also lower their carbon footprint by creating their own soil amendments on site. Lifeline Produce’s cattle contribute to the compost used on all their vegetable fields. They also plant cover crops each year, such as winter rye and Austrian winter peas, which help to build nitrogen in the soil.
While Lifeline Produce’s innovative and sustainable practices may seem like lofty dreams for some farmers, Steve emphasized that they did not create these systems overnight. Developing and fine-tuning practices that reduce your farm’s impact on the environment takes time. However, by focusing on a simple goal of producing what you need for your farm, on your farm, Steve and Luci believe farms can make a positive impact on the land.
Our next Farmer Field Day will be on October 16th at Bell Crossing Farms in Stevensville. Owners Desiree and Steve Funston will share tips and tricks in developing the unique infrastructure required for a hop farm operation. The field day will conclude with a trip to Blacksmith Brewery, where participants will have the chance to purchase beer made with Bell Crossing Farms hops! Don’t forget to register by October 13th to reserve your spot!
Our field days are geared toward people who are just at the beginning of their farm exploration—farmhands, interns, folks thinking about starting a farm in the near future, and those who are currently in the startup process. Of course, established farmers and ranchers are welcome too!