The PEAS Farm is located in the ancestral homelands of the Séliš-Ql̓ispé (Salish and Kalispel) people who have lived in this landscape since time immemorial. We acknowledge and honor their history and continued presence in this place.
The PEAS Farm is home to the University of Montana’s Program in Ecological Agriculture and Society, part of the Environmental Studies Program. The farm hosts three seasonal internship courses on a diversified 10-acre farm in Missoula’s Rattlesnake neighborhood. At the farm, students from any degree program can get their hands dirty while learning the science and practice of sustainable fruit and vegetable production.
The PEAS Farm itself is a collaborative community farm project sponsored by Garden City Harvest and managed in partnership between Garden City Harvest and Environmental Studies Program. For over 20 years, these two organizations have worked together to provide students the opportunity to engage in the web of relationships that make up our local food system.
The three internship courses - fall, spring, and summer - are unique in their offerings due to the seasonality of farm work. During the eight-week spring and fall internships, students earn two course credits while studying seasonal aspects of agricultural production. The more immersive summer course spans three and a half months, during which students learn about sustainable agricultural production and the food system through field work, on-farm workshops, and field trips throughout Montana. This course awards students six upper-division credits. More on the distinctions between the three courses can be found here.
The PEAS Farm courses are rooted in hands-on, experiential learning. At the farm, students become engaged and active participants in one of the most important - and most complicated - functions of our society: feeding people. Students apply scientific concepts learned in the classroom in the field on a diverse, sustainable, working farm. Likewise, both undergraduate and graduate students with a focus in sustainable agriculture and food systems are encouraged to plan and implement projects or conduct research on the farm to further their learning. Supporting the experiential learning are the close bonds students form with one another. Each semester, students form a close-knit community grounded in the humble work and the growing (and eating) of food.
Community partnerships are central to the PEAS Farm and the learning experience for University of Montana students. Each season the program provides over 15,000 pounds of food for the Missoula Food Bank. Also integral to the PEAS Farm is Garden City Harvest’s Youth Harvest Project, which provides job training and youth development to high school students. During the summer months, the Youth Harvest Project runs a Mobile Market that delivers 5,000 pounds of food to low-income senior residences around town. Additionally, for 18 weeks of the growing season, the farm produces 100 Community Supported Agriculture vegetable shares for Missoula families. With all of these connections, the farm is a hub of community programs working with people, food, and agriculture. When students join the crew at the PEAS Farm, they become part of the web of Missoula’s food system. The farm also partners with other food and agriculture-focused organizations, including pest monitoring projects with Missoula County Extension, beginning farmer and rancher development with the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition, and collaborations with other regional and state-wide organizations.
“As an out-of-state student, the PEAS Farm was the best academic decision I've made at UM. During the summer we are able to build a deep relationship with the Montana land beneath our feet, and the strong Missoula community surrounding us. I will forever be grateful for my PEAS experience and the amount of growth and connection I was gifted with.” Cara Shepard, B.A. Environmental Studies, 2021
“PEAS Farm ended up BEING my college experience. It integrated so well with my curriculum of Environmental Studies classes pertaining to food systems, nature and the environment. I couldn’t imagine a better way to have spent my last two years at University of Montana then up at PEAS Farm day after day planting, weeding, sweating, laughing, playing and really connecting with people. [The] PEAS Farm has allowed me to grow as a person with respect to finding what I’m truly passionate about. It has allowed me to work on social skills, physical skills, build friendships and test myself in all of these areas.” Dylan Brady, B.A. Environmental Studies, 2020
“Choosing to take summer PEAS (and then the following fall and spring) was one of the best decisions I made in college, and one that I truly believe has helped set me up for a future full of plants, hands-on work, and striving to continue building up community. Unlike any other classroom, the PEAS farm combines connection with the environment, being an integral part of a moving system, visual and hands-on work, building of community and friendships, and opportunity to problem solve and learn through conversation and experience. You gain extensive understanding on how to grow your own food and work on a farm, which you can then utilize in so many ways in your personal and professional life. Being a part of the PEAS farm connects you more closely to Missoula and the community we have here, which is often hard to find as a college student.” Emily Pittis, B.A. Environmental Studies, 2020
“Just picking one favorite memory at the PEAS Farm is near impossible. However, the summer field trips were always a blast. They are an amazing way to see much of the State of Montana, while putting a new perspective on agriculture in an ever changing and dynamic world.” Brian Flasch, B.A. Environmental Studies, 2020, Veteran
“Working at the PEAS Farm exposed me to the complexities of the food system that can't fit into a textbook. Not only that, but the PEAS farm also showcases the benefits of local agriculture at its best through a focus on community, education, and giving back. I was grateful to get to work on the farm prior to launching a career in sustainable agriculture. Though the course is accessible to people of any background, there is room and enthusiasm for a deeper analysis of the educational content provided. The people who work at the farm are warm and inviting, with a clear passion for the work that they do for students and the community at large. I absolutely recommend this experience to anyone with a budding interest in local food systems or applied ecology generally.” Melody Hollar, B.S. Ecosystem Science & Restoration, 2021
Watch a TED Talk with PEAS Farm founder, Josh Slotnick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VwxWDVKs8k