The Story Behind Peaceful Belly Farms
It all started with a desire to bring a little piece of European sensibility back home to Boise, so Clay and Josie Erkins did just that when they realized there was a need for unpackaged and local produce in Boise. While living in Germany near a beautiful village where they worked as civilians teaching different recreational activities to the military, the Erkinses experienced the craftsman style, artisan culture of food and fell in love with it. They quickly did their research and learned about internship opportunities where they could work on farms and learn about the process. They first started at a small farm called Cosmic Apple in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and eventually found themselves volunteering for an Idaho farm called Joan’s Greens. When the owner wanted to give up the day-to-day aspect of farming, Clay and Josie took over, and in 2002, Peaceful Belly was born. Aptly enough, Josie’s pregnancy, along with the post-9/11 climate of tension and violence, inspired their name and mission, following the idea that “if people aren’t filled with good food, there can’t be peace in the world.”
Their farm has recently relocated to roughly 45 acres just outside of Marsing, Idaho, where they own 30 acres and lease the other 15. They have always had a strong focus on growing everything to certified organic standards by not using synthetic fertilizers, even back before the organic food craze. They have begun researching no-till methods, which, along with organic treatment, is the ideal, but is one of the most difficult achievements in sustainable farming. By growing locally, there is less distance in the transportation, and Clay imagines a future where there are little farms like theirs all over Idaho so good food can be easily accessible rather than having to come from a central location.
There is much to be excited about, though the 3 acres of heirloom-variety cider apple trees may be a good place to start. Peaceful Belly has partnered with Snake River Winery and has delved into the world of hard cider. Dubbed Stack Rock, you can find products around town in places such as Bittcreek, Red Feather and the Boise Co-op. This new location, The Vine and Branch Ranch, has led the Erkinses to dream up and execute all kinds of possibilities, so not only is Peaceful Belly a farm, but it’s also a gathering place where they can showcase their bounty through delicious recipes. They plan to open on Mother’s Day weekend in conjunction with their Freaks of the Garden sale. The farm will feature more farm-to-fork dinners and pick-your-own produce events this year, so be sure to check out the website, PeacefulBelly.com, to keep abreast of all the happenings this year.
Peacefully Belly exists in a symbiotic relationship with the community, where the community supports the farm by buying its food, whether from the market or through the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program, and the farm supports the community by providing them fresh and healthy food. Peaceful Belly has set the bar for high-quality produce in the Treasure Valley, which make it that much more difficult to return to your regular grocery store goods. These fruits and vegetables are the same fruits and vegetables that Clay and Josie feed their family, and there’s something special about knowing exactly where your food came from and how thoughtfully it was chosen for your table.