By Mati Bishop
Spring has come to Rosauers early in the form of locally grown microgreens from Hoot Owl Farm. The greens are the first offering of the year from Rudy and Bonnie Geber’s Libby-based farm that provides fresh seasonal produce for restaurants and residents of northwest Montana.
The Geber’s have been farming along the banks of the Kootenai River for over four years and are working to make sustainable fresh ripe produce a bigger part of the mainstream experience in Libby. Their farms are small, both one acre or less and produce their crops using practices that focus on treating the soil and the overall health of the growing environment rather than the symptoms of problems that arise with the plants.
Hoot Owl Farm’s products are a regular feature at the local farmer’s markets and restaurants that include the Black Board Bistro, River Bend Restaurant, Venture Inn, Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company, Lake Koocanusa Marina and the Gracious Table. Their produce is also available through the Farm to Market store.
The farm offers a huge variety of spring and summer produce that includes crops like carrots, greens, turnips, squash, flowers and more based on growing conditions and time of year. The best way to keep up with what is available and get a feel for the Hoot Owl Farm experience is through the Facebook.com/hootowlfarm.
Many Libby residents take advantage of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, that is a subscription service for fresh veggies all season long. The 2020 program is sold out, but there is still time to join their Farm Stand Program, which allows consumers to purchase single shares of the CSA when they become available. The Farm Stand Program is designed to give consumers a chance to try the CSA program and determine if it will be a good fit for them next year.
Included with the CSA program is a newsletter that builds a strong connection between the farm and the families eating their produce and includes updates on the growing season, informational crop features and even recipes for use with the produce delivered that week. It also takes the time to celebrate the commitment of its subscribers to eating 20 weeks of seasonal fresh produce.
The CSA provides critical financial funding for the farm at the beginning of the season when they need it most for the supplies to get the crops in the ground. This year it will be run by a cutting edge virtual assistant named “Harvey” who makes sure that the subscribers get the veggies they love and none of the ones that they hate in their weekly share. It also allows for subscribers to manage their deliveries around vacations and other events and saves the farm a huge amount of time and labor in organizing the CSA so they can keep their focus on the plants and their costs as low as possible.
“Having the ability to customize shares is a big new thing,” said Bonnie Geber. “I think our members are really gonna like it.”
The biggest contact point between Hoot Owl Farm and the residents of Libby and Troy is at the farmer’s markets that run from early May until October. The Farmer’s Market in Libby is Thursday evenings from 3-7 p.m. outside of the Chamber of Commerce office next to Fireman’s Park and the Troy Farmer’s Market is from 3:30-6:30 p.m. on Fridays from June to October on the grounds of the Troy Museum.
“We’re really excited about the Libby Farmer’s Market this year,” Geber continued. “The community is putting a lot of effort into it and the growth is really exciting.”
They also support a variety of health and food-based events throughout the year including the Health Fair, Kootenai Harvest Festival and Troy Apple Festival. Learn more about Hoot Owl Farm and where you can find their produce at HootOwlFarm.net.
Coronavirus concerns close schools across Montana
By Tracy McNew
On Sunday, March 15, Montana Governor Steve Bullock directed the closure of public K-12 schools across the state beginning immediately. The closure is scheduled to last until March 27 and includes extracurricular activities. Schools will plan to provide free meals to students in need as well as remote work to complete. During the two-week shutdown, the state will work with schools to evaluate and consider next steps which could include longer closures. Schools in other states have been closing for up to six weeks.
Bullock said, “Social distancing is one of the most important primary protective measures to flatten the curve of the virus. I cannot underscore the seriousness of following these measures to help our neighbors, friends and families.”
The governor also encouraged employers to be generous with sick and paid leave policies during this time, and anyone over age 60 was encouraged not to participate in gatherings of more than 20 people. Nursing home visitation has also been suspended.
As of Sunday, Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services reported seven confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state out of 204 tested. None of the seven were in Lincoln County but positives here are anticipated as the virus’s spread continues. Test kits have been in short supply, but testing is becoming more readily available now.
In addition to social distancing, it is recommended that residents stay home if they are sick. They should avoid contact with sick people as much as possible, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, wash hands frequently, and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects.
Anyone with a fever, cough or other respiratory symptoms is asked to call ahead before going to a healthcare facility. It is also a good idea to call before going to scheduled meetings and other events because many are being cancelled or held remotely to encourage social distancing and reduce COVID-19’s impact.
Troy hosts 4-H County Congress event
By Brian Baxter
On Saturday, March 7, the Troy High School hosted a series of competitions, workshops, and classes held by Kootenai Kids and Critters Troy 4-H Club. There were competitions that can send kids to wider venue state competition. The first one was a Horse-Skill-A-Thon that is a test on knowledge of horses, otherwise know as hippology. Hippology is a Greek term from hippos, or horse, and logos, meaning to study. These days, hippology is the title of an equine veterinary and management knowledge contest that is used in 4-H, Future Farmers of America (FFA), and many horse breeding contests.
The second competition was the Stir-Ups contest. The stir-ups is a cooking competition. The kids made their home made soups for a panel of judges. The soup-makers are judged on taste, presentation, proper cooking techniques, and cleanliness. There were also a variety of interesting workshops for the kids to attend such as fudge making, dancing, and an animal quiz bowl. Additionally, an array of fun activities were offered that included suggested club meeting themes, arts and crafts, cupcake decorating, and a wildlife walk.
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Goodman interviewed for Libby’s superintendent position
Ron Goodman interviewed for the Superintendent of Libby Public Schools position during a public meeting held at the K.W. Maki theatre on Thursday, March 12. Photo by Tracy McNew, The Montanian
A public job interview was held for the Superintendent of Libby Public schools position on Thursday evening at the K.W. Maki theatre. Local, Ron Goodman, answered questions and even cracked a few jokes during his interview with the school board which was open to the public.
His interview was the culmination of a week-long process with meet and greet sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and earlier in the day on Thursday. The meeting was open to public comment, and consideration of superintendent selection was the final action item on the evening’s agenda.
No formal announcement has been made regarding whether Goodman was offered the position or not, but a special meeting was scheduled for Monday, March 16 at 4:30 p.m. to consider the 2020-21 Superintendent contract.
Goodman has worked most of his career in education as a teacher and a principal. He was principal of Libby Elementary School before leaving two years ago. He spent those two years working for Edward Jones.
Goodman, if hired, will replace Craig Barringer who has held the position since 2014.