BOZEMAN, Mont. — Strike Farms, a major player in local agriculture, has halted business operations.
Farming about 40 acres of land just outside of Bozeman, Strike Farms grew organic produce for businesses and schools across the Gallatin Valley, sold food at farmers markets, donated to Gallatin Valley Food Bank and provided community-supported agriculture boxes, a produce subscription service people can sign up for.
Owner Dylan Strike said in a text message he couldn’t go into detail about the reasons why the farm closed, but he plans to come back with a new business structure at a later date.
Multiple Strike Farms employees declined to comment to about the closure. As of roughly 1:30 p.m. May 9, one worker had filed wage claims against Strike Farms with the Department of Labor and Industry for not receiving their last paycheck, according to DLI spokeswoman Erin Loranger.
Strike worked with several grocery stores, restaurants, fellow farmers and other businesses in the area that will be impacted by the farm’s closure. Patrick Burr, owner of Roots Kitchen & Cannery, said he has worked with Strike in some capacity since the farm’s inception. He used a lot of its cucumbers and will now have to find another supplier.
He also said he was owed money by Strike but found a way to “square it away” with Strike employees. He declined to say anything further.
Burr said he’s sad to see the business go, and he hopes the land continues to be used for farming. He also said he hopes its closure doesn’t deter other people from starting farms in the valley.
“That property has had a lot of work done on it,” he said. “There’s a lot of infrastructure there that, if it just gets bought up by a developer, it’s not going to be utilized.”
Veronnaka Evenson, of leafy green business Swanky Roots in Billings, has supplied produce to Strike’s CSA boxes. She said Strike always paid invoices in the past, but she is owed $700. She said Strike was filling a huge void in Montana, and it’s hard seeing a like-minded business not work out.
Strike had a large CSA membership in the Gallatin Valley. Under the program, members paid Strike a fee and received fresh produce and preserved goods every week in return.
Sam Blomquist, executive director of Gallatin Valley Farm to School, said its absence will be felt by many.
“I do think sometimes people forget that the CSA model was created to share the risk of farming with farms,” she said. “And it’s easy to share the risk when we’re enjoying Strike Farm’s carrots all year long ... It’s also the reality that we share it in the hard times, too.”
A list of other CSA options can be found on Open & Local’s Facebook page.
Strike Farms closure is a bit of a blow to the agriculture community in the valley, Blomquist said. As far as small-scale, mixed-vegetable productions go, Strike was one of the larger farms.
A big part of Strike’s mission was to make local food more mainstream — the farm says on its website that it distributed to grocery stores like Heebs, Town & Country and Rosauers. Strike’s shoes will be hard to fill, but Blomquist said she wants consumers to know they can still find local food in Bozeman.
Strike is 28 years old, and Blomquist said the farm’s closure speaks to a national conversation about helping young farmers through the emotional and financial hardship that comes with the job — especially in a place with high land costs like the Gallatin Valley.
“This is a hard time for us, but it’s important to have the hard conversations that have come out of it,” she said.