SIFT stands for Small Scale Intensive Farm Training program. We are establishing a demonstration farm that can serve as a training ground for intensive farming in a high elevation cold climate similar to Butte, MT. The farm is an educational model for people of all ages to learn how foods grow, how to raise ecologically sound crops without chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and how to keep farmland healthy for generations to come.
Our farm goals are to develop and maintain a commercially viable farm to be used for educational purposes. Actions to achieve either of these goals should support and not compromise the quality of the other; i.e. without quality educational programming there would be no purpose to the farm, and we need a successful/smoothly running farm to maintain the quality of the educational programs.
The farm is in its 4th year of production and continues to evolve. We grow diversified vegetable crops and using season extension and crop protection because of the harsh climate. We have tried multiple marketing systems including a farm stand, wholesale and a unique pick your own farm CSA. We also give community workshops throughout the summer. The farm has been run by a series of VISTA positions in the past with consultation of the varied agriculture staff at NCAT.
2015 objectives include:
The Land: Continued annual vegetable production at a scale of approximately 1.5 acres, meeting the naturally grown standards. Further developing a soil fertility plan for the entire property including cover cropping, green manures, compost and organic matter applications, chicken grazing and rotations.
Education Programs: Work with SIFT Education Director to oversee educational farming component.
Markets: Find a marketing mix that will be profitable for the scale and are within a reasonable distance to the farm. Outlets may be a combination of farmer’s markets, wholesale, direct marketing, restaurants, and partnerships with other non-profit organizations in our community.
Approximately 3 acres of tillable land- about 1 acre is currently in production
• 4 hoop houses
• 2 greenhouses
• Drip irrigation system with timers
• Wash area (needs improvement)
• Tractor with PTO and loader
• A wealth of knowledge to draw from with NCAT agriculture specialists
Growth opportunities for the farm coordinator:
The successful applicant should be committed to a multiple year objective of expanding NCAT’s SIFT Farm, and identifying and initiating new projects. The coordinator should be able to professionally represent NCAT with knowledge, experience, and the ability to speak about food security and education, while working closely with the Farm Planning Committee. The ideal coordinator will be seeking to grow his or her role and NCAT’s capacity over time through improvements in farm production, project development, fundraising, grant writing, and the growth of existing and new strategic partnerships.