Monday, September 26, 2016

Local land trust helps Swift River Farm grow in Salmon, Idaho

Local food used to be the only food in rural central Idaho. People living in isolated mountain valleys grew and shared most of what they ate. When paved roads and trucks arrived to stock grocery store shelves, residents shopped more and farmed less.

Jessica McAllese and Jeremey Shreve are (re)creating local food networks in Salmon, Idaho. The couple settled in the Lemhi County town in 2013 with a border collie named Nora, a tractor named Fergie, and years of experience farming in Pocatello.

Salmon has been fertile ground for Shreve and McAllese’s Swift River Farm. Other small farmers, a local foods group, and a farmers market are reviving small scale production and distribution systems.


Ranchers started the Lemhi Regional Land Trust to protect local landscapes and rural lifestyles. The trust found a way to help McAllese and Shreve buy land to expand their farm and build a home together.

I told the Swift River Farm story in the Summer issue of Edible Idaho.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Vineyard is a-LIVE

Vineyards are evocative, pastoral landscapes that invite visitors to linger and relax with a glass of wine. These agricultural fields can be more or less environmentally friendly, depending on how they are managed. Bitner Vineyards is the first and, so far, only Low Input Viticulture and Enology (LIVE) certified vineyard in Idaho.

Ron and Mary Bitner use science-based practices to protect water, soil, and pollinators. The couple provide habitat for pollinators and use cover crops, integrated pest management (IPM) techniques, and biological control methods to reduce their use of pesticides. Embracing science comes naturally for Ron Bitner--his first career took him around the world as an expert on leafcutter bees for pollinating alfalfa.

I wrote about the Bitner’s LIVE vineyard in the Spring issue of Edible Idaho.