Every weekend of the 2020 summer season the same senior couple drove along the Flathead River to the Glacier Tilth farm store. The pair would look at the fresh produce and pick out a week’s worth of certified organic salad greens, carrots, strawberries, or peas. Farmer Anna Elbon harvested the produce they purchased just hours earlier, in fields within sight of the store.
“Last year was so challenging for so many people,” Anna said. “I was happy the farm store could be a comfortable space for them to do their shopping.”
Anna started the self-serve farm store in 2020. She said the store was part of an effort to distribute produce she grows to her neighbors. The store is stocked with eggs and meat in addition to super fresh, high-quality produce. Elbon said many people shop at the farm store because it’s closer to their homes than the nearest grocery store.
“I really wanted to focus on serving our hyper-local community in Dixon and the Jocko Valley,” Anna said.
Anna started farming vegetables at Glacier Tilth in the fall of 2016. In addition to the farm store, Anna runs a CSA with pick-ups in Missoula and on the farm. Glacier Tilth also sells produce to the Western Montana Growers Cooperative.
“We care so much about everything we do. I think it really shows in the food we grow.”
The land Glacier Tilth farms has a history in the organic farming community. Steve Dagger owns the land. He and his wife Jane Kile, who passed away in 2010, were pioneers in Montana’s organic farming movement. County Rail Farm, now located in Huson, and Harlequin Produce, now in Arlee, have also farmed the land where Glacier Tilth is now.
“This farm has a history of having been really well managed over the years,” Anna said.
Anna studied agricultural sciences at McGill University in Quebec, where she realized she wanted to run her own small-scale organic vegetable farm. She met her husband, Matt Whyatt, on the East Coast and they decided to move to Montana to farm. Their son, Jacob Hoss, joined the family in 2019.
Anna said her work as a farmer is driven by her desire to produce delicious food that fuels her local and regional communities.
“We care so much about everything we do,” Anna said. “I think it really shows in the food we grow.”
Mary Auld is a Communications Coordinator for Abundant Montana. She lives in Missoula. Her first pets were worms in the compost bin. You can reach her at [email protected]