Leon grew up on a 700 acre farm in northwest Iowa. His family raised cows, pigs, soybeans, corn and a large garden to feed the family. His parents were raised during the depression; therefore they learned to be resourceful, innovative problem-solvers. They passed these skills onto the next generation.
As young man Leon left the farm to explore the life of high intellect in Ames, Iowa. He came out of the experience with a BA in information systems management. Not surprisingly he fled Iowa in search of Montana’s higher ground. He took a job with the U.S. Forest Service, driving fire engines. At first his supervisors were a little disappointed. They expected a much larger “farm boy.” He soon impressed them with his ability to drive large equipment and fix just about anything with a pair of pliers.
Ultimately Leon wanted to use more of his mind (and that degree). So he gained employment as a computer operations technician where he almost perished of boredom. He then became CEO of “Leon for Hire”: landscaper, huckleberry picker, construction worker, fishing guide, and cabinet maker. Eventually he traveled to the Bitterroot Valley and worked as farm manager for Garden City Seeds. He left the seed company in order to partner with Montana Arnica, a medicinal herb farm growing for a national market. When the FDA imposed regulations that closed the doors of many small/mid-size herbal companies Leon switched gears. He focused on growing vegetables and livestock. In 2005 Yourganic Farm was born.
Pam grew up in the burbs of Minneapolis, but was raised on her mom’s farm stories of walking the cows home every night. Like many non-farmers she found something magical about living on a farm. Her parents had a true love of the natural world. After countless forced “nature walks” she and her brother absorbed that reverence as well.
Seeing most of the open spaces near her home covered by housing and highways Pam moved to Montana in the mid-nineties. For four years she slept on a lot of floors, camped, back-packed, road-tripped, banded birds, collected medicinal herbs and earned an odd combination of Bachelor degrees in French and Wildlife Biology.
Skeptical about following a career that involved a desk she started farming with Leon in 1999. Needing to pay off student loans and rent she worked for the Forest Service as a field botanist for 3 seasons until their son was born. She has worked as a gardener, greenhouse tech, and bookkeeper; farming with Leon all the while. Her passion (besides playing in the dirt) is helping people heal through yoga. She owns and operates Inspired Yoga Montana.
Yourganic Farm’s Story
Yourganic Farm started out as a vegetable and livestock farm in 2005. We rented farm ground on Skalkaho for a year and then moved to Ricketts Road and lived in a very, very cold house surrounded by very, very rocky ground. We started our vegetable CSA and were growing for the Hamilton Farmer’s Market while raising three kids and working odd jobs to make ends meet.
Fortune looked upon us in 2008. When much of the country was going through a economic downturn we were able to afford land with the assistance of family and a generous friend. We (1 dog, 1 kid, 2 cats, 2 adults) lived in a tent while Leon and a good friend built our home. In 2009 we put up fencing, created fields and were finally able to put down some roots.
It’s on this land that we have been able to explore creative ways to grow vegetables. We work wisely with weeds, cover crop, mulch and add nutrients to the soil. We rotate animals on different areas of ground to fertilize the land. And we let the land rest. After 17 years of providing the good people of the Bitterroot with CSA boxes and even more years of selling at local markets and grocery stores we are turning our focus to teaching, research and helping others grow.
Lulu is Leon’s dedicated border collie who enjoys chasing livestock, barking at cows, swimming and licking people’s noses.
Maze is Pam’s crazy puppy who loves to chase Lu, bark at Lu and be a general goofball. He’s shy with new people so just pet Lu.