Cooperative, Year-Round Food Production

by Catherine Haug

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to grow fresh fruits and veggies year-round, right here in Bigfork? It’s about to happen! with a new multi-family cooperative community endeavor.

Paul Renner, a member of our ESP community, is working on a project called “Peaceful Gardens.” This is a “community oriented, year round, food self-sufficiency program specializing in growing organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers.”

The Vision for Peaceful Gardens

This project, when completed, will include:

  • a 51-foot geodesic dome growing space that will “produce healthy organic food even in the coldest winter months” (currently under construction);
  • External gardens;
  • A small orchard;
  • Free-range chickens (to help control insects);
  • A root cellar, for storage of fall crops well into winter.

Peaceful Gardens’ mission includes promoting a gradual shift from our current diet to a more healthful way of eating; and demonstrating that a small group of people can produce most of their own food requirements cooperatively, as well as model for, and teach others how to do the same.

The co-op will hold monthy meetings to discuss operations, and to teach/learn from each other. Paul envisions that each participant (family or individual) will:

  • Mentor in one aspect of greenhouse operations;
  • Spend time on site (weekly), planting, nurturing, growing and harvesting their own food;
  • Participate in laying out the beds, irrigation, and infrastructure;
  • Each assignment, including overall management function will rotate every quarter (or so), so each participant will have hands-on experience in each function.

This will be a living enterprise, continually evolving and managed by self-directed work teams.

Currently available assignments

(This is not necessarily a complete list; was current at ESP’s September Gathering)

  • organic pest control
  • natural farming with effective micro-organisms
  • organic composting and fertilization
  • soil management (ph, mineral content, etc.)
  • seed germination & harvesting for future crops
  • work/job schedule management
  • web site develoopment & maintenance
  • photo & film documentation
  • documentation manual-management
  • orchard management
  • external garden management
  • irrigation management
  • passive & active heating system

For more information

To discuss participation in this enterprise as a fellow peaceful gardener, or for more information, contact Paul Renner: (406) 212-9793 or paulrenner299(at) (email disguised for security).

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