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Locavore's Shopping Tour – Local Farms, Local Food

As all good supporters of local agriculture should, I have relationships with a number of great local farmers whom I trust and believe are using sound farming practices.

The backbone of our sustainable food system is local, sustainable farms, so I wanted to showcase some of the great food growers and farms around my local area – Boise, ID.

The picture at the left is of Patti Matthews from Matthews All-Natural Meats. Patti has been selling me eggs and chickens for the last few months.

Nearly every week I make a trip with my family to the Capital City Public Market located in downtown Boise. We are fortunate to live only about two miles away from the market, so we usually ride our bikes or walk.

We also buy food not sold at the market from two other local farms – our meat and raw milk share from Saint John’s Organic Farm (in Emmett, ID), and duck eggs, various produce, and tomato plants from Morning Owl Farm in Boise.

Here are my picks for some of the best produce, meat, poultry, pork, lamb, and eggs available in the Treasure Valley:

Saint John’s Organic Farm – located in Emmett, this 160 acre farm, located about 25 miles northwest of Boise, Saint John’s offers 100 percent grass-fed, organic beef and raw milk. A family-owned farm for 70 years, the cattle raised there live their entire lives on the premises, receiving natural health care and enjoying open fields, clover, sunshine, and fresh air from birth until death.  The farm also offers a raw-milk co-op and annual beef share programs. Check the pricing page on their site for more information. Their milk is the best tasting I’ve ever had! Their meat is flavorful, healthy, and versatile.

Wilsey Ranch (Ed and Debbie Wilsey, right, with their grand-daughter on their ranch) owned and operated for over 30 years by The Wilseys. They are committed to raising 100 percent grass-fed beef and hogs on pasture, without hormones, antibiotics, animal by-products, or genetically-modified feed.

You can find the Wilsey’s at the Capital City Public Market weekly at the Homestead Natural Foods booth,  a conglomerate of local meat farmers where they offer information about this buying food service and offer samples of their meats. Their beef is outstanding in flavor and are from healthy cattle raised on higher-elevation pastures.

Matthew’s All Natural Meats – owned by Seth and Patti Matthews in Parma, ID, this small family farm raises beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, and eggs and specializes in producing their own non-genetically-modified grain produced at a mill on their premises. Their animals and birds are raised on pasture. So far we have been buying their whole chickens and eggs. Their chickens have amazing flavor, and their chicken eggs are ungraded and contain yolks that are almost bright orange in color – indicating the beta carotene from being outside on pasture.

Rice Family Farms – You can find their booth at the Capital City Public Market (farmer’s market) in downtown Boise on the southeast corner of 8th and Idaho Streets. You can also find their produce in various other locations and markets throughout the Treasure Valley including the Boise Co-op, Idaho’s Bounty, Brown Box Organics, and Morning Owl Farm. Specializing in certified organic produce, the Rice family have a great variety of vegetables available during the farmer market months including several varieties of greens (leafy vegetables) and tomatoes, peppers, carrots, onions, green onions, potatoes, green beans, cucumbers, and others.  Please read the Rice Family farm’s 10 Reasons to Eat Local.

Morning Owl Farm – owned by Mary Rohlfing (my former college professor) in Boise, ID, this amazing little farm produces vegetables, duck eggs, herbs, and plants of many varieties. Using sustainable and certified organic practices in their methods, they offer their own foods and also have collaborated with various other local food growers to bring a service called The Next Level, providing natural, organic and sustainable-raised foods including vegetables, fruits, cheeses, eggs, poultry, and various kinds of meat. MOF holds a weekly market on their premises Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 – 7 p.m. which is open to the public through the growing season. You can also buy MOF duck eggs at The Boise-Co-op.

Peaceful Belly Farm – certified organic farm nestled in the foothills of Dry Creek (just on the outskirts of Boise), Peaceful Belly was founded in 2002 by Josie and Clay Erskine.  Grown on their 70 acre parcel are approximately 180 varieties of vegetables, most of which are heirloom, flowers, and fruit. Pasture-raised chickens are also available for sale weekly at the Capital City Public Market (farmer’s market) in downtown Boise at the Peaceful Belly booth as well as other locations including the Boise Co-op. The farm also offers a 35-week garden class series annually. For information about joining their CSA, click here.

Meadowlark Farm – located in Nampa, Idaho, Meadowlark Farm specializes in grass-fed lamb and pastured poultry  for over 20 years. You can find Janie Burns, the farmer, down at Capital City Public Market most weekends. She also has farm-fresh eggs from her pastured chickens. Meadowlark Farm is one of the few Idaho farms that is Animal Welfare Approved. This organization audits and certifies family farms that raise their animals with the highest welfare standards, outdoors, on pasture or range.

Of course, there are other fine local food growers, farmers, and ranchers. I just wanted to cover some of the main businesses I support and use on a regular basis. And, I plan to write about some of the others in the future as time goes on.

There are some very important things in this life – treating our fellow human beings right, being honest, ethical, showing kindness, love, and compassion to those who are less fortunate than we are and helping someone in need, taking care of Creation as God intended us to do so, and showing up to do our best whenever we can – even though sometimes our best will vary from day to day, week to week, depending on the circumstances. And interestingly enough, (in my humble opinion) supporting local and sustainable agriculture fits into all these categories in one way or another quite nicely.

So do your part…support your local, sustainable food growers and farmers!

Want more reasons to support local and sustainable agriculture?

I can’t believe it’s not food! And other atrocities

The egg recall and why local isn’t necessarily better

Food recalls – Why they could mean the end of food as we know it

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of industrial food

4 replies on “Locavore's Shopping Tour – Local Farms, Local Food”

Raine, this post almost makes me want to move to Boise. But we have a few very nice local farms over here too, and one great market.

It is truly wonderful to see the good farmers get mentioned in your blog. Have you ever thought of how much better the world would be if everybody got the kind of food raised by these good farmers?


Thank You for this resource. I have looked at all of these sites individually, but it is nice to have a local recommendation and have all the sources listed together! Great work 😉

I like Pleasant View Farm in Eagle, ID. Corey is third generation organic farmer producing a CSA, raw milk, eggs, grass fed beef, holiday turkeys and has a great organic apple orchard. He also sells fruit trees.

Hi Lisa – I do like Corey Blaine, I met him at the CLO event we hosted with David Wetzel at our shop in May. He told me they get their raw milk from Idaho Farm Fresh, and the owners of this dairy also came to our presentation. I asked the owner if their cows were grass-fed and he replied that no, they received a “plant-based diet” and supplementation from a staff nutritionist. You can read about this here:

Here is a quote from their web site: “Milking cows have higher energy requirements to maintain healthy body weights, immune systems and milk supplies. Because of these reasons, we are not a grass fed dairy. We take the responsibility to feed our cows a healthy, well-balanced and consistent diet all-year-round, and in return our milk quality and flavor is also consistent. Our cows are fed primarily plant forages and dry hay that we raise on our farm along with a mineral mix. We are proud of how healthy they are and the quality of milk they produce.” I am concerned about the source of these feeds, are they GMO? Because this is not mentioned, I am left to wonder. Also, the feeding of “plant-based” diets which usually includes soy, corn, and/or grain increases the Omega 6s in the diet of the cattle, which makes the chance of illness and disease higher as well.

I’m also concerned about the mention of antibiotic use “when needed” (see their web site) and that not doing so is harmful and negligent to the cow’s health. Again, there are farms which do not employ the use of antibiotics, but homeopathic methods which work well to maintain any health issues. I believe that any antibiotic use – even occasional – perpetuates the need to use antibiotics, and also anything besides occasional feeding of grain causes acidic environments in the cow’s bodies (particularly in the stomach where bacteria is generated), which also causes illness and disease.

While I do think the dairy probably has better quality milk than many dairies you may visit, I also maintain that cows should be fed grass in order to have optimal health and produce beneficial bacteria for milk to be highest quality possible. Unfortunately, since the dairy which provides raw milk to Pleasant Valley Farm uses these practices, I’m certain this milk doesn’t qualify as organic. There are dairies which produce grass-fed milk. One of them is Saint John’s Organic Farm in Emmett. We drank their milk for 2 years and it is the best quality milk I’ve ever drank. Currently we are having financial difficulties and are buying our milk from a small farm in Nampa that is all grass and hay fed, and free of antibiotics/hormones and pesticides, although it is not organic. But, it is one of the better sources of milk I’ve found besides Saint John’s Organic milk in our area.

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