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Organic Connections

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Organic Connections

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Organic Connections

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Organic Connections

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Organic Connections

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Organic Connections

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Doug Crabtree & Anna Jones-Crabtree

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Presenter Bio

Anna and her husband Doug own and manage Vilicus Farms, a first generation, organic, 12,508 acre dryland crop farm in Northern Hill County, Montana growing a diverse array of organic heirloom and specialty grain, pulse, oilseed and broadleaf crops under five and seven-year rotations. In fourteen seasons, Vilicus Farms grew from 1,280 acres to be a nationally recognized farm by using USDA’s beginning farmer programs, employing extensive conservation practices, and fostering unique risk sharing relationships with food companies and land investment firms. Over 26% of their land is in non-crop conservation and 400 acres seeded to native pollinator habitat.  Annually they seed over 3,000 acres of cover crops, and use integrated grazing.  Vilicus Farms became Bee Better certified in 2019, Real Organic Project Certified in 2019 and has been transitioning towards Demeter Biodynamic certification.

Vilicus Farms offers the only structured organic grain farming apprenticeship in the US with the vision of incubating new organic agricultural enterprises.  They have hosted 14 apprentices, many interns and more farm campers than can be counted.  Three new agrarian enterprises are under incubation at Vilicus Farms:  a grazing operation integrated into the cropping system, an organic seed production operation and a value-added rye enterprise. 

Vilicus Training Institute (VTI) launched in 2015 to inspire increased scope and scale of organic land management across the Northern Great Plains.  VTI is a not for profit learning laboratory that cultivates collaborations enabling both new organic land stewards and the circumstances that support their prosperous stability.  VTI is a founding board member of the Montana Agrarian Commons.  Projects include mapping risk/reward sharing mechanisms so they can be equitably aligned in the organic crop supply chains, documenting pathways for incubation of new at scale agrarian enterprises, developing organic grain farming apprenticeship curriculum and implementing associative economy principles to enable farm viability.

Anna is a Donella Meadows Leadership Fellow and a recipient of the White House Greening Government Sustainability Hero Award.  She holds a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a minor in Sustainable Systems from Georgia Institute of Technology.  Anna served on the USDA Secretary’s Advisory Council on Beginning Farmers & Ranchers. She currently serves on the Xerces Society Bee Better Advisory Board, Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT’s Board of Directors, and the Biodynamic Alliance’s Economy Advisory Board.    Given the realities of farming Anna still has an off-farm job with the USDA Forest Service.  After several decades fostering more sustainable operations she is now currently serving as the Director for Data Governance for the Northern Region. 

Doug serves as Board Member of the Organic Trade Association and the past Board Chair of the Montana Organic Association.  He also manages crop contracts for the Montana Organic Producers Cooperative.  Prior to launching the farm Doug managed the State of Montana’s Organic Certification Program.  He has worked as an organic inspector, agricultural researcher and farm manager.  Doug holds a B.S. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University and a M.S. Agronomy from South Dakota State University.

Presenter's Sessions

TheLongGameManagingRiskbyInvestinginCommunity

9:45 am - 10:45 am

Main Stage Hall C