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Quinn Institute aims to help farmers grow better food

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Posted at 5:01 PM, Jul 10, 2024

SOUTHEAST OF BIG SANDY — When it comes to farming in Montana, Bob Quinn is a true trailblazer. He's the man who brought us the tasty Kracklin' Kamutsnacks. And he also helped develop Montana's first wind farm near Judith Gap.

Now the world-renowned expert in organic farming has opened his farm 12 miles southeast of Big Sandy to help the industry reach another milestone.

On Tuesday, a grand opening and ribbon cutting at the Quinn Institute was held.

Developer Bob Quinn says the motto is healing the earth by growing food as medicine.

The 700-acre spread of donated land is a regenerative organic research education and health project that Quinn says will bring education, answers and encouragement to anyone who wants to change their farming into a more sustainable and less chemically dependent food operation.

After ten or more years of dreaming about having a regenerative, organic research, education and health institute, today is a reality,” said Quinn,

Nearly 100 people were in attendance for tours and the opening. The tour was part of the Montana Organic Association’s Summer tours schedule.

Quinn calls the opening of the Quinn Institute the culmination of his life’s work in understanding food should be medicine.

“The whole object of this institute is to help farmers grow better food,” said Quinn. “That can be used medicinally to stem the tide of chronic disease and other problems we have in this country, mostly because of the kind of food that we're eating, with the lack of nutrition and all the additives and everything that we have.

The Quinn Institute is divided into multiple large fields demonstrating agricultural systems, including the interactions between livestock, native pasture and different crop rotations.

The walking tour included an up-close look at the institute’s potato and winter wheat fields.

Quinn said he planted about 2,000 potato plants featuring four varieties. He estimates they will yield over 4,000 pounds of food, much of which will be doated to local schools.

Participants also took a field tour which included information on integrated fertility management in organic dryland cropping systems, weed monitoring systems, lentil, safflower, and chickpea fields; hemp for reclaiming saline seeps; and an ergothioneine study.

Participants learned what the institute is all about and just how big of an impact organic farming has on Montana’s number one industry.

“Montana is a great place for organics,” said Christy Clark, Director of the Montana Department of Agriculture. “We have clean water, clean soil, clean air. We're ideal for organics. And the Quinn Institute just adds another layer to that.”

Rented acres from a neighboring non-organic farm will facilitate comparative studies at the Quinn Institute which goes beyond fields and croplands. The campus will include small gardens, orchards, a teaching kitchen and small processing facilities.

Quinn says the institute has already benefited from a grant in cooperation with Montana State University’s Central Ag Research Center in Moccasin, Montana.

“It’s actually the first time that we've applied and received a favorable response on a grant to set up,” said Quinn. “The result of that is a multi-year study on various cropping systems and its effect on micro biological populations of the soil, which then turn into nutrient density in plants and grains in the harvest.”

“We need to get back to focus and being paid for nutrition,” said Quinn. “Wouldn't it be great if farmers were paid for nutrients for acre rather than bushels per acre?

Quinn compares the human body to a car. He says if we put the best oil in our vehicles, why not treat the body in a similar fashion.

The human body is the most miraculous engine ever devised,” said Quinn. “Yet sometimes we're lacking in taking care of it. I hope that they start thinking about the importance of food, how it's grown, and the health that it can bring to our lives and the lives of our family.