Janie Locker, the new owner of Lower Valley Farm, smiles and waves to me as I pull into the driveway, and then immediately disappears into a high tunnel. I walk through the maze of farm equipment and poke my head into the door I think she has slipped into.
“HI! Welcome! Sorry for the mess!” Janie exclaims as I join her in the high tunnel. I look around trying to spy the mess she is talking about. Weed piles, garden tools, and irrigation supplies litter the rows. “Just looks like a regular farm to me!” I respond with a smile.
I’ve visited a lot of farms recently, and a theme I’ve noticed is this: farmers apologizing for their farm not being picture perfect. As with many things, I blame social media. When we scroll through Instagram and Facebook, we only see a snapshot of someone’s life and usually it’s the perfect moments, purposefully curated for your enjoyment. But, unfortunately, it’s lacking in reality. Farming is messy so shouldn’t we assume farms are messy, too?
Janie and I talk about this phenomenon.
“If you want to take photos of all the messes, I am really embracing it.” She points to a field and laughs, “That’s all thistle out there and it’s not supposed to be.”
It’s hard not to be in awe of Janie. She moved to the Flathead onto her newly acquired farm in mid January putting her, as she says, “a solid couple months behind every farmer right now.” And except for a few people doing a work-trade for their CSA each week, Janie and her Field Manager, Zane, are the only people making the magic happen at LVF this summer.
“We thought about hiring more people, but instead I decided to do less. Honestly it’s been a big exercise in letting go. There’s only so much we can do [in a day] and we deserve rest.”
In case you were wondering, Janie doing less is providing full CSAs to 75 families, having a booth at the Kalispell Farmers Market, and opening a farm stand to the community once a week, all while using organic practices and being the new farmer in town.
Her honesty is refreshing, ”I’m kind of making things up and learning about this place as I go.”
We’re excited to welcome Janie to the Flathead Valley and to see all the amazing things she does with Lower Valley Farm.
For more information on Lower Valley Farm, visit their Abundant Montana listing.
Sammie McGowan is a Communications Coordinator for Abundant Montana. She lives in Whitefish with her four-legged best friend, Charlie. She is deeply in love with nature and enjoys getting to know each and every bird and flower she comes across while hiking. Contact her with your favorite hikes at [email protected]