Without a Hitch: A Successful Farm Tour

On July 9th we hosted our biennial farm tour and open house here at Quinn Farm & Ranch. This year’s tour was particularly busy, featuring 4 sections which were repeated twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon and we couldn’t have asked for better weather or a better turnout.

My son-in-law and manager of The Oil Barn®, Andrew Long, hosted a tour of our old cow barn turned oil production facility. Chad Fasteson, our newest addition to the farm crew, told folks about our use of waste oil to run our tractors here on the farm. And Thomas Dilworth introduced our ancient wheat snack, Kracklin’ Kamut®. Visitors were given a sample bar of soap made from our organic safflower oil as well as a package of snacks to enjoy.

Charley Overbay, my produce manager, led the groups through our prairie orchard and shared some information on our dry land vegetable project, both of which look incredible this year!

Meanwhile, I spent the day talking about my 50 varieties of ancient, heritage and modern winter wheat test plots, which include a few examples of spring wheat. And Dave Christensen joined us for the day to speak about his life’s work developing a black corn.

The tour ended with my farm manager, Seth Goodman, explaining our 9-year crop rotation and showing a demonstration plot. Then John Porterfield shared some of the results we are conducting on his behalf in regards to organic silicon treatments.

Although we tried to split the groups evenly between the 4 tours, our best laid plans did not work too well. For my group, I had a large crowd during my first tour and by the last tour of the day, I had only one family who had just arrived from Great Falls. Turns out they are the owners of the Great Harvest Bakery and I admittedly had a lot of fun tailoring the tour just for them.

Lunch was delicious and included pulled-pork on a KAMUT® grain roll, which was provided by Chandee Bomgardner from Bomgardner Catering. And for supper we enjoyed KAMUT® grain pizza made by Jeremy Williamson, owner of Champo’s Pizzeria Italiano in Great Falls.

We ended the day with an excellent variety show, thanks to the great efforts of my good friends, Judy of Great Falls, Sharon of Geraldine and Marla Ray of Big Sandy. The variety show was followed by a little old time county style dancing.

The abundance of rain received this year made everything look its best but the threat of thunderstorms worried some of the guests and potential visitors. In the end we were quite lucky as potential storms split and went around us on both the north and south.

We had over 180 in attendance, including guests from as far away as Germany, a representative from the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, as well as friends from Kansas, New Jersey, New York and North Dakota. We did not have as many local folks as we had 2 years ago, but that was likely due to so many preparing for harvest, which came quite early this year.

The purpose of the day was to showcase the benefits of converting to organic as well as additional possibilities for adding enterprises to a farm. We were happy to have accomplished this goal with good information, good food, good fellowship, good entertainment and good fun.