THE CHICKENS & THE EGGS
We began our organic flock of Happy Hens in 2012 with about 16 different heritage breeds of chickens, selected for superior egg colors, cold-climate adaptability, pretty feathers and good temperaments. We've been delighted with our ever-evolving friendly flock of chickens over the years, and have enjoyed watching our own EarthStar Farm mixed-breed chicks hatch and grow up. The flocks live in a large fenced pasture (we do have lots of predators, including our grizzly bears) and forage freely for bugs, worms and other delicious natural treats all year long. They also are freely fed local organic chicken feed from Big Sky Organics. Our Happy Hens help us clean-up and till the garden beds in the springtime. We believe in natural farming. We do not push our hens into egg production with artificial lights in the winter, they are allowed to go through their natural annual laying and dormancy cycles. When their egg-laying days are finished, our hens continue to enjoy their retirement years with their flock families. Though our flock is smaller now (only 75 chickens) than it was a few years ago (250+ chickens), we are proud to share our eggs with our community. You may buy our EarthStar Farm Happy Hen Rainbow eggs (when available) at Third Street Market in Whitefish, MT.
MICROGREENS & EDIBLE FLOWERS
Our EarthStar Farm microgreens are grown in a proprietary mix of super-organic soils, creating a more delicious, nutrient-dense and longer lasting product. We grow two standard mixes, a milder Vitality Mix, and a spicier Exhilarating Mix. These microgreen mixes are pre-rinsed and require no further washing by the consumer. Both are readily available retail at local specialty markets. We also custom-grow single-variety microgreens and tiny herbs for our fine restaurant trade. We began growing EarthStar Farm microgreens in 2016, and have steadily grown into the largest supplier of microgreens, microherbs and culinary edible flowers in northwestern Montana. You will find them on plates at most of the finer restaurants around the Flathead Valley, as well as in the organic produce section of specialty grocers.
HERBS & GARLIC
Garlic and herbs are integral to most of our cooking, and we field-grow a delicious cross-bred "EarthStar Farm" hardneck garlic. It usually ripens for harvest by mid-summer, and keeps very well all winter.
Herb varieties are: rosemary, lavender, several parsley varieties, cilantro, sage, thyme, several basil varieties, mint, etc.
We organically cultivate many highly fragrant varieties of lavender at EarthStar Farm. Our 16 varieties of L. Augustifolia and L. Intermedia (Lavandin) are carefully selected for the finest essential oil fragrance, culinary flavor and beauty. Surprisingly, the lavender plant thrives in our challenging climate. During the first half of the 20th century, the Flathead Valley of Montana was the largest supplier of lavender essences in the United States, used by the big cosmetic and household cleaning manufacturers (like Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate Palmolive, etc) of the time. After WWII, the synthetic chemical fragrance market eclipsed the natural flower essence market, and the legacy of Flathead Valley lavender fields slowly dwindled away. Interest in lavender as a culinary herb and for healing essential oils has increased exponentially over the last decade, and we are delighted to see a resurgence of its cultivation here in the Flathead Valley. Our honeybees are also delighted that we have several thousand lavender plants for them to feast upon each summer!
PERENNIAL CUT FLOWERS
We grow many different perennial and annual cut flowers, both edible and decorative. While many of our flowers are seasonal, our greenhouses allow us to grow roses and other beautiful edible flowers year-round.
THE SHEEP & THE WOOL
Our main flock of Cormo sheep (and our few special remaining Targhees) are all descended from Merino parentage, and are carefully bred to ensure finest quality fiber (super-fine 16-21 microns for the Cormos, slightly higher microns for the Targhees). Cormo sheep are a relatively new breed, and exotically hail from Tasmania, AUS where sheep reign supreme. Targhee sheep were developed about a hundred years ago, at the DuBois sheep station, located in the Targhee National Forest of Idaho. EarthStar Farm is carefully and selectively breeding to accentuate the natural black and moorit grey sheep in our Cormo flocks. We create our pearly cream, soft grey and warm black yarn colors by blending our exceptionally soft natural undyed wool to create the tweeds and solids of the "EarthStar Naturals" range of yarns. Our wonderfully soft yarns are processed and small-batch spun by small artisanal family mills in Buffalo, Wyoming and Carstairs, Alberta. Our superfine combed and worsted yarns from Wyoming include Cormo Sport weight, Cormo Worsted weight, and a bulky thick/thin twist called Cloud Cormo (featured in photo above). The Canadian homespun-type yarns are a soft 2-ply Aran weight, and a soft Bulky single twist perfect for Cowichan Native Heritage knitting. May is one of the most exciting months on the farm, as that is when the majority of our adorable new lambs are born!
We love growing heirloom tomatoes that truly taste like the luscious tomatoes of our dreams. We offer healthy tomato plant starts to the community in June. Typical time-tested varieties that do well in Whitefish include: Solar Flare, Gold Medal, Brandywine, Sungold, Sweet 100's, San Marzano, Roma, Caesar's, Costaluto, Genovese, Our fresh heirloom tomatoes are usually available at Third Street Market by July /August.
We grow many heritage-seed hot and sweet peppers, unusual heirloom squashes, pumpkins, peas, beans, cucumbers, and a large variety of interesting greens. We are always trying out new veggies in our gardens, with the primary emphasis on delicious flavor. We will try to keep everyone updated as our crops ripen up.
FRUITS, NUTS & BERRIES
Our fruits, nuts and berries are primarily growing in the Food Forest. We look forward to decades of delicious bountiful community harvests as our Food Forest matures. We have planted many varieties of apples, pears, plums, cherries, other stone fruits, hazelnuts and myriad interesting berries (goji, seabuckthorn, saskatoons, elderberries, etc) in addition to the usual strawberries and blueberries.
We are developing a longterm permaculture-type planting called a Food Forest. This is a planned installation of five large concentric circles of fruiting trees and shrubs, which create a microclimate of warmth at the center, increasing by one whole USDA climate zone in the center when the trees mature. This area is approximately two+ acres, and also is the site of the early-stage vineyard and many rows of lavender. Our honeybees also live in the Food Forest, where they are protected from our neighboring bears. We look forward to the mature groves and the bounty of their harvest in the years to come.
Diligent research over decades of dinners has resulted in us planting several varieties of cold-hardy grapevines in hopes of a future productive vineyard. Grape varietals include: La Crescent, Frontenac Gris, and Marquette. Stay tuned ...
We currently have two 30' geodomes on the farm. One is a heated Growing Spaces greenhouse dome, used year-round for winter edible flowers and greens. The other is a simple open-air shelter that the chickens adore. It is said that the beneficial Torus-field energy effect of the geodesic dome structure creates superior egg taste and plant growth.
GREENHOUSES & HIGHTUNNELS
We extend our short Montana growing season by utilizing a large 75' high-tunnel for veggies and two greenhouses. One greenhouse is for the our micro greens production and the other is a 30' heated geodome greenhouse. These structures allow us to grow fresh veggies and flowers year-round for our community, despite the long, deep-snow Montana winters.