BOISE — Until he started working on a farm, Alex Bowman-Brown often questioned the value of his previous jobs, which included a variety of occupations.
“I always kind of questioned every job I’d done. Was there really a point to me doing it?” he said.
But then he volunteered at an organic farm about seven years ago and that questioning stopped.
“Farming wasn’t something I could question the meaning of,” said Bowman-Brown, 35. “It’s essential. Food is something that everyone needs. It’s also a way for me to be a land steward and do something that benefits the community, and I can’t question the value of it.”
After working on several organic farms during summers in Montana and Washington, Bowman-Brown moved to the Boise area in 2015 and began working at Peaceful Belly Farm, an organic operation in the Dry Creek Valley just north of Boise.
After a year, he and two other farmworkers employed there decided to start their own operation, Fiddler’s Green Farm, a small certified organic farm that grows garlic, flowers and vegetables on 6 acres just down the road from Peaceful Belly.
The farm grew 180 types of vegetables last year.
“It’s a huge, diverse array of mixed vegetables” that requires a spreadsheet to keep track of, Bowman-Brown said.
Their products are sold at the Boise Farmers’ Market, directly to Boise restaurants and at the Boise Co-op. They also have a Community Supported Agriculture program.
Bowman-Brown co-owns the farm along with Justin Moore, a Vermonter who has worked on several organic farms around the country, and Davis McDonald, a native Boise resident who has a background in wholesale flower sales.
Nampa farmer Janie Burns, president of the Boise Farmers’ Market board of directors, said the three are a great example of young farmers who put in their time on the farm and then struck out on their own when they saw a niche opportunity open up.
“I think it’s wonderful that a group of young farmers saw a market and are using their professional skills to bring some really beautiful vegetables to the valley,” she said. “It’s a great example of young people kind of doing their time learning the craft and then striking out with fingers crossed.”
Bowman-Brown said the trio felt confident there was a local market to support their dream but admitted that starting their own farm involved a good dose of chance.
“We knew that the market in Boise was pretty open and we knew we could probably sell stuff but we didn’t know how well it would work,” he said. “It was definitely a big risk.”
He said their goal is not necessarily to become bigger but to get better at what they’re doing now.
“Instead of getting big, we want to get real dialed in and make it a well-oiled machine,” he said.