Unless otherwise stated, the images of Prairie Grass Ranch in this newsletter originally appeared in the article, "The Timeless Lentil", featured in Big Sky Journal. Photography by Erik Petersen.
Prairie Grass Ranch

Hill County, Montana
Prairie Grass Ranch is a 7,500 acre organic farm in Hill County, Montana owned and operated by third generation farmers, Jody and Crystal Manuel and their six children. Earlier this month, Iroquois Valley provided financing to the Manuels to secure the 3,665 acres that they own. The Manuels raise heritage grains and legumes, including lentils, chickpeas, peas, alfalfa, and sanfoin sweet clover as well as organic grass-fed beef in native Montana mountain grasses. They also raise a handful of Duroc pigs, a heritage breed, each year. Their pigs are free to roam and root under a grove of fruit trees, with their feed supplemented with their organic Montana lentils and ancient grains. Pasture makes up 75% of their operation, while crops make up 25%. Their meat can be found at Regen Market.
Why Organic?
Iroquois Valley asks this question of every farmer in our very first conversation. A commitment to organic is key to a farmer entering our pipeline. We were struck by the answer Jody & Crystal provided and are including a shortened version here:

Imagine, if you will, a married couple in their twenties in the late 1990s, four year old boy and two year old girl in tow. One day, Crystal began to wonder why she was so exhausted all the time. Her heart rate continuously flared to 140 beats per minute, she was rapidly losing weight, and the hair on the perimeter of her head was falling out. Raising kids is a lot, but this seemed over the top.

She started doing research, reading Prescription for Nutritional Healing and self-diagnosed. At first, her doctor was doubtful, but Crystal convinced him to check her thyroid and take a blood test, which confirmed her condition. Crystal was suffering from an autoimmune dysfunction known as Graves' disease, a sometimes debilitating and life-threatening malfunction of the thyroid gland.

Autoimmune disorders like this one were found to have links to agri-chemicals, which Crystal realized were in widespread use in their agrarian landscape and in the food they ate. Despite that insight, the initial advice was to treat with radioactive iodine. It would have meant a lifetime dependency on pharmaceuticals.

Rather than accept conventional treatments, Crystal took matters into her own hands. She changed her diet to remove heavily processed foods and introduced specific fresh, organic ingredients. She found a bright internal medicine doctor in Great Falls, MT, who was willing to listen. They developed an integrated approach to treatment using minimal medicine to address symptoms and creating a long-term plan to change the family's eating habits.

Over the next eighteen months, Crystal made frequent trips to Great Falls for treatment, which also provided the opportunity to more easily access organic ingredients. Her check ups during this time revealed that Crystal's health had been completely restored – thyroid intact and fully functioning.
This experience was the first and most significant step for the Manuels on their journey into organic farming.

Jody's initial skepticism around the notion of organic eventually faded away and was replaced by an energetic optimism. The final tipping point came in 2007 at the Montana Organic Association conference. Jody said, "I have never been around such a large group of excited and enthusiastic individuals dedicated to a better way of farming." The Manuels have not looked back since.
Kernza®: a perennial grain
Kernza® (left) is known for its long roots that can extend up to 10 feet below ground. Annual wheats (right) have root depths of 3-5 feet. Photo: The Land Institute
Kernza® growing in a test plot at the Land Institute's farm in Salina, Kansas.
Photo: The Land Institute
Kernza® seeds.
Photo: The Land Institute
In spring 2020, the Manuels planted their first test acres of kernza®, the perennial grain developed by The Land Institute. They plan to have all of their cropland established in perennials by 2025, which will allow them to move to a no-till system. Eliminating tillage will enable the Manuels to simplify field operations, reduce costs, and improve profitability within the specialty market of perennial grains & legumes alongside grass-fed & finished beef. This year, the Manuels will be intercropping kernza® with legumes, like lentils, which will not only diversify their crop rotation, but also provide forage for their cattle.

Kernza® is being researched by universities across the United States and throughout the world. This perennial grain is particularly exciting because of its ability to sequester carbon through its long roots and provide benefits associated with other perennial plants: improved water filtration and soil structure, and reduced soil erosion, to name a few. Currently, there is a strong market for kernza® seed as well as grain from breweries, bakeries, and cereal companies. Because the world relies heavily on annual grains for food, a perennial grain has enormous potential to impact agriculture.
The Montana organic community
Photo Credit: Prairie Grass Ranch
Prairie Grass Ranch is the second operation in Montana that Iroquois Valley has invested in. The only other Montana operation, also located in Hill County, is Vilicus Farms. The farmers at each operation are collaborators, members of the Montana Organic Association, producers for Timeless Natural Food, and were featured in The Lentil Underground, a book about a group of organic farmers in the Northern Great Plains.
We're hiring
Iroquois Valley is looking for a VP, Investor Relations to join our team! We are looking for a motivated individual who knows the impact investing and regenerative food system landscape -- and who is committed to helping us scale our model supporting independent, organic farmers with long-term, patient capital.

Core responsibilities include:
  • Engaging with and growing our investor and financial advisor network
  • Business development
  • Communicating the Iroquois Valley investment opportunity

Please visit our careers page to see the full job description and benefits. Cover letters and résumés will be accepted until end of day on May 7th. Reach out to recruiting@iroquoisvalleyfarms.com to apply.
Legal Disclaimer
The information contained on this website is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security, insurance product, or service. Any product or service discussed in this website is intended for and is only appropriate for accredited and institutional investors and other qualified purchasers as determined by current SEC regulations and orders. The information available on this website is for informational purposes only.

Securities involve risk, and investment may result in a partial or total loss. Some of the statements herein may constitute forward-looking statements under federal securities laws. Such forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties, including those described in offering circulars prepared for the purpose of offering and selling securities by Iroquois Valley. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Any historical returns, expected returns, or probability projections may not reflect actual future performance.

Iroquois Valley and its affiliates are not liable for any investment decisions by its readers or subscribers. It is strongly recommended that any purchase or sale decision be discussed with a financial advisor, tax advisor, broker-dealer, or a member of any financial regulatory body. The information contained herein has been provided as an information service only. The accuracy or completeness of the information is not warranted and is only as reliable as the sources from which it was obtained.

In particular, Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, PBC is offering its common stock for sale pursuant to Tier 2 of Regulation A+, and as such intends to be exempted from state qualification pursuant to federal law. Offerings are only made through our Offering Circular, available here. No offer to sell securities or solicitation of an offer to buy securities is being made herein or in any state where such offer or sale is not permitted under the blue sky or state securities laws thereof. No offer to sell securities or solicitation of an offer to buy securities is being made in the following states: AL, AR, and OK.
As a corporate guideline,  we do not look for specific farmland to purchase or finance. We develop relationships with farmers who want to grow their businesses. We move forward when we have a ready, willing and able farmer. 
Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT | Public Benefit Corporation  
 Certified  B Corporation | Est. 2007