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Montana Ag Network: First-generation organic farmer excited for new planting season

4.28.21 Nate Powell Palm 2.jpg
Posted at 2:57 PM, Apr 28, 2021

Another spring planting season is finally here. As temperatures warm up and fields dry out, farmers like those in Montana's Gallatin Valley are anxious to get back into the fields.

“Every December, I kind of get an itch that I don't really know what's going on but I'm a little bit anxious,” said Nate Powell-Palm, a farmer from Bozeman, Mont. “What I’ve learned is that I'm realizing that spring is right around the corner and we as farmers get to be part of this this wakening up of the earth. We're racing to coordinate with nature, to coordinate with good soil conditions and to stick that seed in the ground. I think that's something you don't really get the chance to experience in many other professions.”

He says conditions this year in the Gallatin Valley have been pretty good for planting his organic pulse, oilseed and cereal crops considering other areas of Montana are very dry.

“Planting has been going pretty well. We're about half done and we're just dodging snowstorms right now in Montana,” said Powell-Palm. “We're blessed with good spring moisture. The problem is, when it comes it might not always be perfect for us. So, we're working to just plant around the snowstorms. Right now, we're planting to moisture, which is really nice. We're able to put that seed right into moisture so it can get growing right away.”

He says as a first-generation farmer, the decision to farm organically versus conventionally made the most dollars and sense.

“I wanted to figure out how to get closer to the consumer and raise a value-added product that also allows me to just farm differently,” said Powell-Palm. “Organic allows me to ultimately cut down on a lot of the inputs that we would normally be using in conventional agriculture. I grow my own fertility and ultimately don't need pesticides and herbicides because I'm using cultural practices like crop rotation to realize the same quality product as if it were conventional. But ultimately, it makes it so that I can have a higher value product that the consumer is really demanding.”

Like others, he’s also very proud to be a farmer.

“It's no small amount of pride in saying that we're feeding people, we're feeding our community and we're feeding other communities around the world with these crops,” said Powell-Palm. “And by ultimately raising the best crops we can, we're making sure that people have really good food. And that's something that I think is really special.”

If you’re a fan of Annie’s Mac and Cheese, there’s a little of Nate Powell-Palm’s organic yellow peas and durum wheat in each box.