What does "farm membership" mean?
Farm members are a special type of customer, a more intimate part of the farm than casual market visitors or wholesale buyers. By the end of the season we are likely to know some of your favorite foods (and what you don't love so much), and you get to really see the farmers in their natural habitat. Members provide about 20-30% of our income, and often the most stable and reliable part of our farm budget. Vegetable subscription members come to the farm on Tuesday afternoons to pickup their box. Feedbag members fill up their bags either at the farmstore any day of the week, or at the farmers market in Hamilton. For more help choosing your farm membership, checkout our membership decoder!
How does payment work?
We ask everyone to choose their membership type as soon as possible and pay the $20 deposit fee at checkout, to reserve a 2017 membership. We'll then contact you to determine how you want to pay the remainder of the balance. That can be in one sum payment in the spring, or 4 payments throughout the season, whatever works best for you. You can sign up for a membership here.
What if I will be out of town for a week? What happens with my veggie box or feedbag?
Great question. You can send a friend, neighbor, or family member to pick up your produce. Many members use the feedbag or produce box as a thank-you to friends who are house-sitting or watching their pets when they leave town. Just leave your house or pet sitter instructions on when and where to find us, and let them eat it up! You can also let us know beforehand (ideally 2-3 days notice) so we can find someone to donate your box to. There are many families in need in our valley and it's one reason we've setup our Eatership program this year.
What if I forget to pick up my share?
Don't worry, you'll come to love the farm so much, you'll never forget a pickup! On a more serious note, we do try to help you remember. This year we will send text messages to farm members on the morning of pickup day. If you need to pick up your box a day or two later, just let us know -- we usually can make arrangements to so you can pick up your box directly from our walk-in cooler.
How many people does a share feed?
This is a hard question, because it depends a lot on your appetite, tastes, and how many vegetables your household eats per week. Most of our weekly subscription and large feedbag households fit one of these categories: 2-3 people who cook and eat at home often and occasionally freeze a bag of greens or a jar of soup for winter, OR: 1-2 people who cook at home most days and like to put up a fair amount of food for winter by freezing or canning, OR: 4+ people with a busy schedule who do not cook from scratch every day and don't do much canning or preserving. If you are just one person, or if you have a garden of your own but don't grow everything, we generally recommend a small feed bag as your best option.
How do I decide if a feed bag or a subscription is best for me?
There are a number of factors, but a lot depends on just how much control you need over your produce selection. If you are willing to adapt to the veggies that are most abundant each week, accept some surprises, learn about some new foods, and adjust your meal planning accordingly, a subscription provides the best pounds-of-food-per-dollar equation. If you like to plan your meals around specific recipes and want to know you can get exactly three leeks, a pound of potatoes, and one bunch of kale for you favorite soup (or if someone in your home refuses to eat anything of a certain color some weeks), you're likely to be happiest with a feed bag. If the Saturday morning farmers market is a highlight of your week, the feed bag lets you continue that habit. Conversely, if you love local veggies but want your whole Saturday free for taking off on adventures (or staying at home and recovering from your week), a Tuesday pickup of a subscription frees up your weekend nicely.
I'm out of town quite a bit but I want to support the farm. Can I still get a membership?
There are still plenty of ways to support us! You can find us at the market or stop by the farmstore when you are in town. We are open all the time during the growing season. We will keep our offerings updated daily on our Facebook page. More details and directions are here. A great way to support our farm is to also support our Eatership program.
Are you organic?
Ever since we began farming (this is our third year full-time), we've farmed using organic practices, following US Department of Agriculture guidelines. Our farmland was fallow or grazed for about 10 years prior to our purchase, and we were happy to find plentiful weeds that indicated no chemical sprays (we also contacted the relatives of the previous owners to confirm the history), and we tested soils and our well water around our impacted areas for a variety of contaminants. We have been certified as Montana Homegrown for past two years and are applying for formal USDA organic certification this spring.
What inputs do you use?
We currently use no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Our sources of straw and hay (for animal forage in the shoulder seasons) are all non-GMO and comply with organic standards. They are also local. We generate a good deal of compost on farm and purchase a significant amount of compost from Huls Dairy to amend our soil. The 15 yards of composted manure we purchased in 2016 was all from non-GMO feed.
What about labor? Do you have internships availalbe?
The bulk of the SweetRoot labor force is the two of us, so we are constantly working on improving our efficiency as farmers. We have found that the various forms of "free" labor common to many farms like internships, WWOOFers, begging assistance from our friends, etc., don't work as reliable long-term labor solutions for a business (though we thank those of you who have helped us through those venues!). We want our farm to be able to provide a decent wage for those who work here regularly (including us, eventually). For 2017 we have the budget for one part time shoulder season helper in the spring and fall. We have also budgeted for one full-timer person for the main growing season. The position for this year is currently filled. We occasionally have large, single day volunteer work parties for large projects, and announce these in our newsletter and social media; follow us or sign up for the newsletter if you want to join in on those days. If you are interested in volunteering regularly outside of those work-party days, please get in touch with us or email us to set up a time to come on out to the farm. We do have opportunities for volunteers, but may need to you to be able to commit to a predictable weekly schedule, in order for it to work smoothly for everyone.
Do you grow everything yourselves?
Yes! All the produce, fruit, flowers, seeds, starts, eggs, and meat we sell through any of our venues, we grow at our farm in Hamilton. It's not always the prettiest, but it's our own. We want you to know, without having to ask, that anything we offer was grown, made, or roasted right here on our place and meets the standards you expect from us. We do not buy-and-sell from other farms (no matter how great they are or how good our friendship)even though this would sometime give us a better selection or a more rounded offering for members. This does mean that sometimes we won't have eggplant, or hot peppers, or some other item at market or in the subscription box. But we like the clarity and accountability of this policy, and it helps keep the pressure on us to improve our skills and get better at growing in order to meet demand. And what's that about roasted here? The coffee we sell we purchase as green beans directly from organic farmers in both Indonesia and Papua New Guinea we have a working relationship with from Noah's conservation work in Asia. We roast this coffee on farm weekly for both the farmers market, our farmstore.
How do you decide who receives eatership funds?
We hope to be able to fund all families who apply, but we can't yet guarantee that. We will keep track of the order of applications, and disperse funds in the order in which applications were received. We do not ask for any personal financial information, and will not judge or rank applicants by level of need. If you tell us you need some help we will believe you, and we will do the best we can to make it happen.