Introducing Save Farmland

May 22, 2024 / News

Hello, Whitefish community!

We’re thrilled to introduce (or reintroduce) you to Save Farmland, a new nonprofit dedicated to helping grow a more resilient and reliable food system in Montana.

Our mission is to protect vital farmland and empower the next generations of farmers and ranchers by providing them with the resources that promote their success.

The Problem

As many of you know, the pressures of development, rising land prices and volatility in climate are making it increasingly difficult for new farmers to build thriving farm businesses. In order to address this challenge, we are utilizing a farm incubator model to lower these pressures by providing financial and business support for local farmers and ranchers that give them the space, infrastructure and community support to develop their farm businesses, market channels, and brand.

Our First Initiative: Voerman Farm Hub

Our first major project will be a farm incubator on an already donated 40-acre parcel of land off Voerman Rd. This incubator will adhere to stewardship farming practices and serve as a launchpad for new and aspiring farmers, providing them with access to affordable land, essential resources, and invaluable community.

Our vision for the Voerman Farm

  • Affordable Land Access: We will lease small plots of land to farmers at a nominal cost, removing one of the biggest barriers to entry for new farmers.
  • Resource Hub: From equipment and compost to sales channels and business planning, our incubator will offer a wide range of operational resources at reduced costs.
  • Mentorship and Community: Seasoned farmers, agricultural experts and a cohort of peers will provide ongoing support, guiding new farmers as they develop their skills and businesses. 
  • Stewardship and Sustainability: We’re committed to farming practices that focus on stewarding land, soil, wildlife, and water resources, promoting biodiversity and health-giving food production. Our incubator will be a living classroom for this form of regenerative agriculture, demonstrating the benefits of chemical-free farming in harmony with nature.

Why We Need Your Support

While the land has been generously donated, we now face the challenge of transforming it into a functional farm. This summer we’ll be pounding the pavement to fundraise for Phase 0 and Phase 1, with the hopes of breaking ground on the Farm Hub in Summer ‘25.

Phase 0 | Prerequisites to Breaking Ground

  • Land and Soil Assessments: To understand land and soil conditions for best siting structures and farm plots and building soil health as needed.
  • Structural Drawings: To understand the true cost of the project and get necessary permitting. 
  • Operational hire: To conduct organizational operations as this vision materializes.

Phase 1 | Break ground on the Farm hub

  • Land Preparation: Plant cover crop, mixed berry and fruit orchard, drill two water wells and install perimeter fencing.
  • Farming Plots: Install irrigation, fencing and power to 10, ½ acre lots.Farm Buildings: Including storage sheds, wash station, greenhouses, a communal barn, and composting toilets.
  • Purchase Equipment: Buy 5-10 critical pieces of farming equipment for use by hub farmers.  
  • Hire Farm Manager: Bring on a farm expert to oversee the build and drive the success of the farming cohorts.

*Timing for the activation of these items will be based on our ability to reach fundraising milestones. 

Why This? Why Us?

Save Farmland was born from the community’s voice and vision. When we asked our neighbors in Whitefish what mattered most, they highlighted the critical need for local food access and the deep concern for irresponsible land development. This project is a direct response to those concerns, driven by the community and for the community. 

We are committed to being a conduit for the existing efforts of many people and organizations to create resilient, healthy food systems for all Montanans. With the community’s guidance and support, we aim to ensure our local food system thrives for generations to come. 

We want to express deep gratitude to the individuals and organizations that have informed our approach so far:

Farmers
Food Access
Education
Soil Health & Regenerative Agriculture

Join Us in Building a Sustainable Future for Whitefish

We believe in the power of this community, and we know that with your support, we can make this vision a reality, here are the ways to get involved:

  • Donate: Every contribution, big or small, will help us build the infrastructure needed to get this off the ground.
  • Volunteer: We welcome help with everything from planning to planting. Join our newsletter and follow us on Instagram to get updates on volunteer opportunities.
  • Spread the Word: Share our mission with your community to help us build a strong network of supporters.
  • Feedback: We want to be a representation of this community’s needs. If you have ideas, concerns or feedback, we’re here for it, please share.   

Thank you for being part of this journey with us!

With gratitude,

Robin & Scot

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