Nature’s Path, a leader in North American organic cereal, lives by the mantra “always leave the earth better than you found it.” The company has taken another step along that path with the purchase of 2,760 acres of fertile land in northern Montana that will help increase organic farmland, attract new farmers and meet the growing demand for organic grains and legumes.
The need for organic farmland has increased as the demand continues to grow at an expected rate of 14 percent through 2018. At the same time, the number of farmers is declining, down 4 percent since 2007, as older farmers retire without enough new farmers to take their place.
“As an independent, family-run company, we have the freedom to put our money where our heart is, in support of sustainable agriculture—beyond just making organic products,” said Arran Stephens, founder and CEO of Nature’s Path. “By purchasing fertile land and working with organic family farmers, we ensure the purity of our foods, increase organic acreage to sustain growth, prevent poisoning the environment and provide for future generations.”
The land has had no agri-chemicals or fertilizers on it for over 20 years and is currently being tilled and planted with wheat, oats, Kamut®, lentils, peas, buckwheat and safflower. The grains are rotated with legumes, which fix nitrogen in the soil, while safflower oil will be used as bio-fuel for farm equipment.
A vital element to ensure organic farmland and food for generations to come is attracting and training a new generation of farmers. Nature’s Path is proud to work together with Doug Crabtree and Anna Jones-Crabtree of Vilicus Farms to farm the land as well as support their one-of-a-kind organic farmer training institute in Montana through which younger grain farmers apprentice to learn all aspects of the trade.
“Working with Doug and Anna, we hope to attract younger farmers and prepare them for successful careers,” said Dag Falck, organic program manager at Nature’s Path. “We have the utmost respect for organic farmers and are truly dedicated to assisting them in any way we can.”
As part of the company’s mission, Nature’s Path purchased two farms in Saskatchewan in 2008; the addition of the Montana farm increases their stewardship to 5,640 acres, in addition to dozens of independent farmer families and many thousands of acres across North America who grow and supply their organic commodities.