The second soil health event of 2022 was held in early July at the Quinn Farm in Big Sandy, which will serve as a future research center for experimentation on best practices for dryland farming. This event was especially rewarding not only because of the engaging speakers and excellent participants but also because this event had been postponed from 2021 due to extreme drought conditions and an increase in grasshopper damage. With this in mind we felt lucky to be able to come together with like minded folks to learn about farming in arid climates by touring through Bob Quinn’s experimental greenhouse, orchard and vegetable plots, as well as Charley Overbay’s dryland vegetable operation.
Participants gained access to the “oil barn,” where a value added product has been created through trial and error. It all started when the farm began to clean safflower seed cooking oil and utilize it as fuel for farming operations. The soil crawl included presentations and dialogue with Northern Plains members Patti Armbrister, who gave participants tangible takeaways on regenerative gardening and greenhouse use, as well as Charlie French and Tony Hartshorn, who brought in the bigger picture of geomorphology, the carbon cycle, and why regenerative agriculture should matter to us all! Presenters and participants alike left having learned new lessons and deepened connections to the community after hearing about the many successes, challenges, and milestones when it comes to dryland farming and working to implement soil health practices in Montana.