1957 in the USA was the heyday of suburban development. Subdivisions started popping up everywhere, and Bozeman, Montana, was no exception.
That was the year that Richard Weaver’s father bought land and developed it around a golf-oriented subdivision.
When his father died young, Richard inherited the land with a vision to redevelop the land and build something that would bring people together.
Richard’s urban agriculture oasis with permaculture goodies
While Richard owns the land, he shares ownership of the farm with other people, called garden members. All of the members decide together what they want to grow, and communally, they plant, weed, and water the crops.
- For example, they share the harvest and divide it based on how much time each member donates.
- One of the most impressive parts of the farm is a sunken greenhouse that sits six feet underground, is attached to a home on the property and is several degrees warmer inside. The greenhouse grows apricots, nectarines, Asian pears, kiwis, and more.
The challenges of permaculture experimentation
When working with a plot of land, its needs, capabilities, and drawbacks become very apparent along the way—often through trial and error.
- Since Richard’s land is part of a subdivision with an HOA, the team had to manage neighbourly disapproval.
- He estimates the cost of the greenhouse to be around $100,000 USD due to heightened building codes.
- They’ve also dealt with bears intruding, and have had to protect their beehives.
Richard’s vision keeps him going
Richard’s big goal is to show what can be done in the Gallatin Valley to produce food.
For his father’s subdivision and beyond, he hopes to see widespread urban agriculture. But with a twist.
- Richard envisions a valley where its 100,000-person population is fed from food grown exclusively in the valley. And he sees permaculture groups teaming up with homeowners as the path to making this a reality.
- Richard feels that his farm has created a bonded crew. He calls it a communal garden, not a community garden as the members tend the land together, rather than claiming individual plots.
And Richard envisions this type of bond spreading as the Gallatin Valley reclaims its autonomy over its food production.