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  • Writer's pictureJere Folgert

The Perfect Farm Combo: Garlic and Mountains

Updated: Apr 5

Harvest time always presents Gallatin County, Montana as its picturesque best.

Farmers are busy harvesting wheat, canola, potatoes, dry beans, field peas, lentils, safflowers, mustard, squash, alfalfa, and garlic. The air is filled with optimism for a big harvest in the county. There are a number of reasons why crops grow well in Montana. First, the state has a long growing season, with an average of 150 frost-free days per year. This allows crops to mature and produce well. Second, Montana has a variety of soil types, which allows farmers to grow a variety of crops. Third, Montana has a temperate climate, with hot summers and cold winters. This climate is ideal for many types of crops. Fourth, Montana has a lot of land that is suitable for agriculture. About 18 million acres of Montana's land is used for cropland. Fifth, Montana has a strong agricultural infrastructure, with a good network of roads, irrigation systems, and storage facilities. Finally, Montana has a skilled workforce that is dedicated to agriculture.

This year he reaped more than 1200 pounds of hardneck garlic. Hardnecks (Allium sativum ssp. ophioscorodon) are closer to wild garlic, with complex flavors. These are the garlic that reflect the regional soil and weather patterns. Virtually all cooks and chefs state that hardnecks have a superior flavor to softnecks.

Some local garlic growers celebrated the harvest with a fresh roast of venison and elk roasted with 15 bulbs of garlic. Fresh sweet peas were combined with kale and swiss chard to make a scrumptious salad. The celebration was highlighted with homemade roasted garlic ice cream treats. "Czosnek! It's harvest time, and having fresh garlic is an auspicious practice that expresses our wish for a surplus harvest," said one Bozeman resident (with Polish heritage) who was helping with the harvest. Czosnek is the Polish word for garlic. "It is a fun way to gather together and celebrate our gains," she said.

Jere Folgert seems content with the garlic harvest from his family farm of two acres not far from Bozeman.

As the Bozeman area continues to grow, more and more farmland is being converted to housing. This is a trend that is being seen across the country, as cities expand and suburbs encroach on rural areas.

There are a number of factors that are driving this trend. One is the increasing demand for housing in Bozeman and other cities in the area. The population of Bozeman has grown by more than 20% in the past decade, and the demand for housing has outpaced the supply. This has led to rising housing prices, which have made it difficult for some people to afford to live in the area.

Another factor that is driving the conversion of farmland to housing is the availability of land. In Bozeman and the surrounding area, there is limited land that is zoned for development. This means that developers are often looking for land that is currently being used for agriculture.

The conversion of farmland to housing has a number of implications. One is that it reduces the amount of land that is available for agriculture. This can have a negative impact on the local food supply, as well as on the livelihoods of farmers.

Another implication is that it can lead to increased traffic congestion and air pollution. As more people move into Bozeman and the surrounding area, there is more demand for roads, schools, and other infrastructure. This can put a strain on the local economy and environment.

Finally, the conversion of farmland to housing can change the character of the community. As more and more housing is built, the area becomes less rural and more suburban. This can be a positive or negative change, depending on one's perspective.

The conversion of farmland to housing is a complex issue with a number of implications. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of this trend before making a decision about whether or not to support it.

The fertile land, rich water resources, and climate make things ideal for growing garlic in Gallatin County, Montana.

"Hardneck garlic requires a cold period, called vernalization, to divide and form into bulbs. When garlic is planted in the fall, Mother Nature takes care of vernalization over the winter," said Jere Folgert. "We get the perfect combination of cold winters, spring moisture, and beautiful solar radiation," he concluded.

Unfortunately, our beloved college town has a problem: It’s too popular. Bozeman and surrounding county lands close to Yellowstone National Park, with Montana’s busiest airport, has been one of the country’s fastest-growing micropolitan areas. As more people move to Bozeman and Gallatin County, more open space and farmland is converted into homes, townhouses, and condos. Numerous groups are working together to try and save as much open space, agriculture, and farmland, but it is not an easy task.

"Nothing lasts forever, so I'm holding onto this moment," said Jere.

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