Clark Fork Organics is about six acres of a family run farm in the western Missoula Valley run by Kim Murchison and Josh Slotnick. The farm is complete with three greenhouses, plenty of chickens, and of course a cute dog. They primarily grow specialty crops like salad mixes, but also a wide variety of vegetables, beans, herbs, and even flowers. Delicious eggs are collected from the chickens, who also help to fertilize the soil.
Early spring preparation involves three interns sorting seeds, repairing tables, removing debris from the greenhouses and putting in tables for seed planting. Once the tables are in place and level we plant different types of onions, shallots, chard, kale, and basil. At this point we're scrambling to get everything ready, which means doing a little bit of anything that might need to be done. Just today I hauled a truckload of debris, rebuilt a table, planted several hundred more seeds, set and dug rows in one of the greenhouses, and herded chickens.
As someone with next to no background in agriculture, particularly plant agriculture, even just these first couple months of my internship at Clark Fork Organics has taught me a lot. Now I know a little bit about different plant families, under what conditions and time frames they grow, how they are planted, how greenhouses work, what the cycles of small farms are, and some basic carpentry skills. But most important is a basic understanding that small farms can be successful in producing healthy food, maintaining a positive role in the community, acting as stewards of the land, fulfilling people, and teaching how these are all interconnected. Clark Fork Organics is exciting to work for, and Kim and Josh are excellent role models for how to achieve such an amazing lifestyle.
As my Friday afternoon drew to the warmer part of the day I stepped outside of the greenhouse. I watched the clouds role in overhead and felt the first few drops of rain on my flushed face. I drew in a deep breath, smelling the remnants of last years tomatoes and basil. I had been home, sick, most of the week, and questioned if I was healthy enough to be at my internship at all today, but in that moment I knew this was the best place I could be.