Farmer Feature:Matt and Sonja Johnson

matt-sonjaTenacious describes the people who know what they want and go for it. The Johnson farm celebrates 110 years in 2021 and here is the story of the tenacity that has kept this farm alive.

LIke many farmers in the area, during the Great Depression Matt’s Great Grandfather lost the family farm that he had worked so hard to acquire. His grandfather took a job building the Fort Peck Reservoir (a part of Roosevelt's New Deal) to pay the taxes and get the farm back. For two years during World War II, he worked for Boeing in Seattle, building airplanes and came back to plant and harvest just to keep things afloat.

Things settled and time moved on. Grandfather and Dad worked the farm and had high hopes that Matt would go off to college, move off the farm, and create a life for himself and his growing family.

The same determined blood ran through Matt’s veins as his forefathers. After two semesters of trying out a path that didn’t feel like it quite fit, Matt bought a mobile home, hauled it up to the farm in 1995, and squeezed in a place for himself at his family's farming operation.

In 2004, with some experience under their belts, they began to transition to organic after a naturopath diagnosed their son with several different food allergies. They cleaned all processed food out of the pantry and started taking the same stock of their farming practices.

With the help and inspiration of local organic growers, they grew their first 80 acres of organic flax and within 18 months transitioned 2000+ acres from grass to crops. The vigor of youth sustained these two growers; the only piece of advice from their mentors that they did not follow was, “don’t do too much at once!” Thankfully, it worked out in the end and they have never looked back.

Matt and Sonja approach farming their land with minimal inputs, careful planning, and minimal tillage. They adamantly thank God for all of the success and even the learning experiences along the way that have made them better growers.

Folks, the moral of the story is tenacity wins.

Thanks, Matt and Sonja, for all you do.