About Us

Lloyd and Terri Craft have lived in the Big Horn Basin for the past 35 years. Lloyd, a third generation German farmer, was raised on the farm in Manderson and so it was only natural that he would become a farmer. Terri was raised in Southern California and it was not natural that she would become a farmer! But together they have operated a farm since 1996. They sold their 365 acre farm in 2010 but retained leased acres and have continued to farm on a smaller scale. In 2012 they launched Lloyd Craft Farms CSA–successfully!

Our CSA garden is now 6 acres with two hoophouses, over 100 beds 60-393 feet long–most laid under plastic mulch–and water from a holding pond we built off the Hanover Canal that feeds our drip lines. When the water is not in the canal, we use Washakie Rural District water, run through a filter to remove the chlorine. We are not certified organic, but use organic practices on the farm–no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, but things approved for Organic certification (OMRI). We are transparent and can answer any questions you have on our practices and methods. We exercise care in the handling of your food–we believe in the importance of healthy soil for healthy plants for healthy bodies.

The first year we purchased a smaller tractor and tiller specifically with the CSA in mind–as well as the hoophouses. Our banker, who loves our plan and is an active member of the CSA, fronted the money to buy a Rain-Flo Model 2400 Mini Raised Bed Mulch Layer, and a Rain-Flo Water Wheel Transplanter. I can’t imagine setting out nearly 5000 plants by hand!

Janene at Enchanted Gardens raises our bedding plants. Our pumpkins and squash have been sold through Ray & Reese’s IGA since fall of 2012…2014 they sold nearly 500 pumpkins weighing 5,876#’s…in less than a week!  In 2015 we doubled that–

In 2013 we made some connections and our melons appeared in various Farmer’s Markets throughout the state and Billings, and we began selling wholesale through a buyer for restaurants and institutions. This helps to stabilize the share price for our members and diversify our business.

You can see our large hoophouse from Washakie Ten–our address is 1049 Washakie Ten. (See Pick-up Info)

OUR EXPERIENCES

2012–
2012 seemed a storybook year–56 first time members, the weather co-operated despite the 45 days of UNSEASONABLY HOT temps (DROUGHT), not as many pests knew we were here, and people were interested and enthusiastic. We were fueled by the excitement in the community. The Northern Wyoming Daily News did an article and we were graced the front page–the hits on http://www.lloydcraftfarms.com were the highest ever and we heard from past Worlandites from South Carolina and Cheyenne and Iowa!

2013–

2013 brought a 55% increase in membership AND the challenges–wet spring with a late start, one week delay with a broke-down cooler, lots and lots of flea beetles that ate up the seedlings before they could grow their true leaves, germination problems with the carrots, spinach that came up and died, and an EARLY WET fall. Try as we might we could not stretch that season to 16 weeks and had to settle for 12 weeks–that is the RISK we take in farming and that is the risk we share. BUT even despite those set-backs we still delivered the same quantity and quality of food as 2012. We added new veggies in celery, sweet potatoes, snack peppers, heirloom tomatoes, and much more sweet corn–two varieties! We learned how to raise more lettuce and harvest grape tomatoes more effectively.

2014 proved a boon as we expanded the membership to 106 and added deliveries in Thermopolis, Ten Sleep, and The North Route (Manderson drop for our Hyattville members, Basin and Greybull).  The delivery truck ran a route to Billings where we met our buyer and our veggies went into restaurants and institutions.  The Spring Share with 30 participants put us in a good position to start the CSA the first week in July, augmented by greens while the outdoor crops caught up.  We also experimented with successive plantings of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, celery, and lettuces from our own starts throughout the season.  Experimentation is a good thing and of course you meet with mixed results–overall we supplied more broccoli and cauliflower than previous years, and learned more about timing and germination delays.

Lettuce proved to be an aphid magnet, spinach had disease issues, carrots didn’t get weeded at the right time, and overall we saw the waning of the natural nitrogen we had been carrying in the garden from the 6 years of alfalfa previous to the planting of the garden.  We were able to supplement with natural magnesium and fish emulsion fertilizer to finish out the season.  Still no efficient compost operation, but the plans are still in The Farmer’s head.

Because of the way we planned and planted, the CSA ran until the last week in October…6 weeks after the first frost–a full 16 weeks.  And our truck made deliveries to Montana until the second week in November, and stopped when we began to fret about frozen veggies because of below freezing outside temperatures.  We ran out of cooler space before the last freeze and so had to abandon 200 heads of Deadon cabbage in the garden.  It will be turned under in the spring and go back to nourish the 2015 crop–nothing is lost in the big picture.

In the fall we covered carrots in the garden and were able to dig them throughout the winter–not an easy task with the cold and wind.  We sold the last of the carrots on March 14th–132#’s.  The last of the cabbage and red onions were sold in February.  The potatoes had finished out earlier in December.  We are content with the outcomes.

A new accomplishment for the winter of 2015 was the establishment of a Buyer’s Group of 24 members and new participants.  We brought in USDA Organic fruits and vegetables from December through June, until the garden started up again and is producing.  Buyer’s Group is a collective that buys case goods together on a twice a month basis. It is open for Walk-ins, and we operated out of the back of Bee Healthy on Big Horn Avenue.

2014, overall, was good for the garden, but not without risk as all agricultural endeavors are– for the second year in a row we took it in the shorts on the acreage which raised the conventional crops.  2013 it was the wet spring that resulted in delays in planting.  The 29 acres of sugar beets were in the ground soon enough, but the wet fall brought the sugar percent down, complicated by the dropping market price, and the 77 acres of beans did not get ripe. 2014 it was the September 9th frost that hit the again immature beans.  But 2014 had a twist over any year we have farmed:  the beans were looking pretty good as they lay drying in the field, then 45 mph winds came in one night and rolled one row upon another, upon another, upon another.  When the morning light broke through it was ten foot high stacks of dried bean plants.  There was no way to harvest them, so The Farmer and The Farmer’s sons and the 70 year old Landlord spent two weeks hand raking 106 acres of wind-whipped beans.  We sold them with enough to cover the cost of the beans and part of the fertilizer, but no profit and no income for ourselves or money to pay the bank back for the money used to live on for the past year.  I only share this to give you a better picture of the risks that farmer’s take. What were the odds of sustained losses two years in a row on row crops?  We thought pretty low, but apparently not impossible.

The CSA takes risks too, but not to this magnitude. The losses of the conventional farm are not passed onto the CSA members. We run the two businesses separately. It is our hope to transition the 106 acres into produce production–that is the big picture. 🙂

God has been good and has blessed The Farmer with wisdom and knowledge on plant cultivation.  He has helped to grow me, The Farmer’s Wife, into a good partner and business manager.  We have wonderful family and a great community that supports what we are doing.  There is talk of Food Hubs and Local and Fresh Produce…this is where we want to be, and we hope others will join with us!

 

The Farmer’s Wife
Updated 3/24/2015

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Stephen Reynolds on July 27, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Lloyd and Terry, what a wonderful surprise to read about your adventure in my old hometown newspaper. Gardening is good for the soul and neighbors. We have been gardening here in Cheyenne for a number of years, facing the challenges of altitude and wind. We give a lot of produce to our neighbors. Sharing is good. Congratulations and good fortune. Stephen Reynolds

    Reply

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