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a New Genera&on
of Land Stewards to the
Northern Great Plains

Appren&ceships to Encourage and

New Organic Grain Farmers
Stewards of the Land
Who is your farmer?
Todays Reality

Beginning Farmers at 40
Barriers to entry are SIGNIFICANT and DAUNTING
There are very few of us.
Where does Vilicus Farms Fit in the Food System?
5,600 acre organic dry land farm
North of Havre, Montana (8 miles to Canada)
5-7 year crop rotaAons
Seeded 19 crops in 2016, 12 for harvest
25% of land base in non-crop conservaAon

Seeking a more sane system = lower input costs +

higher crop prices + less reliance on technology = greater
rewards to management
Our farming philosophy:
Organic is a place to start;
Do NOT grow food using poisons, ConservaAon cannot
include killing;
Nature is the best teacher;
Farming is the highest and best calling;
Farmers must be professional land stewards & advocates
Farming can (and must) be pracAced in a manner that
improves the soil and associated natural resources;
Tillage is the ART of farming; and
The best ferAlizer is the farmers bootprints (adapted from
Wendell Barry)
Only 0.5% (147) of the 28,100 farms &
ranches in MT are cerQed organic

Organic = $43 Billion

The US imports over half
of our organic grain
Growing New Organic Grain Farmers

Stewards of the Land

New Stewards on the Northern Plains
The Vision
more successful organic grain farmers
a farmer network sharing equipment, ideas
and fun
revitalized rural economies
revoluQonary land stewardship
risk sharing relaQonships with buyers
at scale climate resilient working farms

Vilicus Farms ApprenQces
(2013 2016)

Growing ApprenAceship Partners &
IncubaAng an Incubator

Vilicus Training InsAtute

USDA Grants

Food Company Sponsors

State of Montana
Food Companies Sponsors
Applications Being Accepted for 2017 Season
Organic Grain Farming Apprenticeships
Havre, Montana

New Agrarian Immersion Experience

Registered Apprenticeship in Organic Farming

For more information: / / 406-394-2469

Weve learned a lot but sQll have

What does the next generaQon need to succeed?

Risk tolerance?
Debt as a tool?
Work/Life Balance?
Diversity and community?
ApprenQceships. So what?

Whats the career path to building equity?

Living wage?

Are we who are led in agriculture just

Ader months of mentoring... (dog
Are there really other mentors out there?

Its not just about the apprenQce.

Perhaps a mentor support network?

Are independent, family farms the model
that will serve this next generaAon?

Or, are there other models that are

more palatable (to prospecAve

What is the best way to incubate

more people onto the land?
Sense of Urgency
Can we scale up and transfer
knowledge fast enough to make a
dierence for life on a planet with a
changing climate?
When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may
begin to use it with love and respectThat land is a community
is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and
respected is an extension of ethics. That land yields a cultural
harvest is a fact long known, but la>erly o?en forgo>en.
Aldo Leopold, 1948

Stewards of the Land