In early July, after winter’s snow had disappeared from the Crazy Mountains, we visited Shauna and Jeff Eagleton of Delpine Farms at their home on the North Fork of the Musselshell River. Along the lush riverbottom west of Martinsdale, their farm produces fresh eggs and nutrient dense vegetables far from the larger markets in the state. On their rural operation, they employ a mix of hoop houses, outdoor beds, and indoor setups to provide a variety of crops from delicate microgreens to fragrant heads of garlic in order to feed their family and community.
Where the Musselshell passed between the tight hills, we followed its flow through lush garden beds of beets, radishes, and lettuce as we toured the Eagleton’s farm. The heat weighed down upon us as we dipped into their hoop house overflowing with tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. As we walked and talked about their motivations in regards to their farm, pollinators buzzed around us and songbirds whistled from the willows along the water’s edge.
“It’s cool to feed your own kids what you grow,” said Shauna. “But their success depends on the success of our community and the success of their classmates. If they can all thrive, then our kids benefit too.”
The Eagletons are proud of the resources they provide their community. They not only run the farm but have helped start the farmers market in nearby Harlowton and have created a sponsorship system to provide food to families in need. Their produce primarily feeds the central Montana area between White Sulphur Springs and Harlowton. It is a region not known for small market vegetables and here, they are innovators and community connectors.
At the end of the day though, the Eagletons are happiest as farmers and their skill shines through in the crops they grow. When we asked Shauna if she’s known for any particular crop in her community, she quickly responded that lettuce is her “superpower.”
“I can grow lettuce really well and it’s amazing lettuce,” she said. “It’s not normal tasting lettuce. It’s delicious.”
We can agree – it’s superb. That evening, after a full day of chores, we sat down to a hearty salad and fresh tomatoes. Each forkful captured the joy of summer.
To try their produce, you can join their farm club to get a discount on veggies or stop in at the Harlo Farmers Market throughout the summer. For more specifics, see Delpine Farms’ listing on our Find Food & Farm page.
Anthony Pavkovich is a Communications Coordinator for Abundant Montana. He lives in Melville, MT and has worked as a herder, butcher, and ranch hand. When not working to promote local food, you can find him traversing the landscape under his own power – be it in running shoes, on skis or by bike. To better get to know his backyard, he once ran 240 miles across the region he calls home. Send him your favorite trails at [email protected]