I was raised a small town in north east Idaho called Ashton. My parents still live there and I went back last week for a visit. Ashton is known as an agricultural town, as it used to be the biggest seed potato producing area in the world. Farmers in Ashton still grow potatoes, among other things, like wheat, barley, and canola.
When I was younger I didn’t think much about being surrounded by monoculture (and GMO) crops, or about the fact that because our property is surrounded by fields, I got a good dose of herbicide each spring. But when I visit now, I can’t help but to be bothered that there isn’t a slow food movement going on or that I have to take a cooler of food to keep me full and happy during my stay.
Don’t get me wrong though, Ashton and the surrounding areas are simply beautiful. Yellowstone is but miles to the north and Targhee National Forest lies just east of town. And the Grand Tetons make for a beautiful backdrop.
But drive 40 miles south of Ashton and towards the Tetons and you will find a flourishing slow food movement. The culture from Jackson Hole has spilled over the west side of the mountain and in Victor and Driggs, Idaho they are thriving off local, organic and non-GMO food production and consumption. And their movement keeps growing. I had been hearing about this slow food movement for some time now and decided to call some organic farms in the area to see if I could come check out their farm and talk sustainable agriculture. Snowdrift Organic Farm happily obliged. Georgie Stanley owns Snowdrift Farm and plays a big role in promoting grass fed animals, organic crops, and farm fresh eggs. She sells her products at farmers markets and local grocery stores and has a CSA. Local restaurants also wait all year to be able to source her organic produce. If you’ve ever been to Eastern Idaho during the winter months, I am sure you know how cold and brutal it can get. Georgie explained how she only has about 3 months of frost free weather to grow her gardens.
But she also has greenhouse and other sustainable methods of prolonging her growing season. Georgie raises cows, pigs, chickens, and grows a MASSIVE amount of flowers, greens, and other vegetables. She also grows her own alfalfa to feed her animals during the winter. And her concern about GMOs is growing now that GMO alfalfa is market approved, putting her alfalfa crop in jeopardy of GMO cross contamination. Luckily, there are no GMO alfalfa fields close by.
When I went to visit snowdrift the weather was cool and windy, although the sun decided to keep us warm. Unfortunately, because of the strong winds, all the footage of the chickens wasn’t of much use. But Georgie did explain her method of raising her chickens and it isn’t much different then that of the well known Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in Virginia.
The chickens stay in a mobile home and follow the cows after they are done grazing. They feed off bugs and larva and fertilize the soil. At night the chickens put themselves to bed inside their cozy camper home and wait for the roosters crow the next morning. They definatly looked like some happy birds!
If you live near Victor I highly recommend joining a CSA at one of the many organic farms in the area. You can also attend the farmers markets, and buy locally grown foods at the grocery store there.
I hope to make another trip to Ashton soon so I can talk with the other farms in the area and get their take on GMOs and why they are choosing to grow clean, healthy, and GMO free foods.
In the meantime, enjoy this interview with Georgie and take a look at Snowdrift Farms!
GMO Free Idaho Presents: Snowdrift Farm, Victor, ID
You can also go to snowdriftfarm.org for more information.
Thank you Georgie and the Snowdrift Farm staff for your time and your contribution in making Idaho a healthier place!