CALDWELL—Chances are good that if you eat out much in the Treasure Valley, you’ve experienced some of the goodness that comes from McIntyre Pastures.
The McIntyre family, the 2019 Canyon County Farm Family of the Year, is becoming well known among restaurants and local markets for providing farm-fresh eggs, pork and beef.
“You go downtown and eat at Fork and you’re eating eggs from McIntyre farm,” said Stephen Parrott, of the Canyon County Agri-Business Committee, which selects each year’s Farm Family.
Fork and Waffle Me Up in Boise, and Le Coq d’Or in Eagle are just a few local eateries that the McIntyre family farm supplies for. You can also find their products at several grocery stores and local farmer’s markets.
“The board wants to support Canyon County agriculture, and one way we’ve chosen to do that is through honoring a farm family every year,” Parrott said. “This year we chose more of a traditional production agriculture family. They’re unique because they’re making this transition to producing products for the local community. We’re excited to honor them for Farm Family.”
The McIntyre farm spans five generations and dates back to 1910. Covering over 1,000 acres, the farm is currently run by Loren and Kathy McIntyre, two of their sons and their wives, Brad and Jill, and Ben and Maria, and a host of grandchildren and other relatives.
In many ways, the McIntyre family farm sounds like the quintessential farm. They grow seed crops, mint and some forage crops like hay, and there are cows, chickens and pigs. But there is an aspect to their farm that is nontraditional — some might even say trend-setting. They choose not to use tilling equipment on their fields, but instead they use animals to till the soil naturally.
“Soil health is key to healthy animals, plants and ultimately humans,” Brad McIntyre said in an email interview. “If we are able to mimic nature in a way of not disturbing the soil, keeping the soil covered with living plants and using animals to harvest the plants. This builds topsoil, organic matter and stores carbon. We are trying to do our part in healing our ecosystem. Focusing on our soil and utilizing animals in the process of harvesting plants creates some of the most nutrient dense food we can produce.”
Maria McIntyre, who helps manage marketing for the farm, said when they first started their no-till practices, there were a few eyebrows raised in the farming community.
“Everyone thought we were crazy,” she said. “It’s getting more momentum, for sure. It’s more of a trend.”
Maria said seeing the land and soil thrive has been very satisfying, and they try to share the knowledge they’ve gained about soil health and no-till practices. “Our farm is open door,” she said. “We try to learn and share what we’re doing here.”
Now that they’re doing more production for the local community, there is plenty of work to go around. It’s definitely all hands on deck, with different members of the family pitching in. The day we spoke, Maria had just unloaded over 1,000 chicks, with several of the younger kids helping.
“Every day is different,” Maria said. “That’s the good and the bad of what we’re doing. There is a lot of diversity. We have a lot of great employees as well. We do try to take turns so that in theory no one gets burned out.”
Their ISA brown hens lay about 1,800 eggs a day that have to be washed, packaged and delivered to restaurants, stores and neighborhood drop-off points. While direct sell of their products means a heavy work load, Maria said positive feedback from the community is a benefit they reap.
“The feedback we get is that we’re doing a good job, that they appreciate the practices, because it’s a ton of extra work,” Maria said. “When people appreciate that, compliment us, it makes it so well worth it.”
The Farm Family of the Year designation means the McIntyres will be the face of Canyon County agriculture for the year, and will put in appearances at agriculture forums in the county and at the county fair.
“It’s a huge honor,” Maria said. “Being Family of the Year is fun.”