Nestled between the towns of Bridger and Belfry, on the outskirts of Red Lodge, you will find Boja Farm. Spanning over 60 acres, the land was purchased in September 1995 by Bonnie Martinell and her husband, Jack. The Martinells built their home in 1996 and began planting the orchard in spring of 1997. The pair have transformed the original bare ground into a thriving farm with a unique mission: they are 100 percent chemical-free.
“I always wanted to have an orchard and planted the first orchard with strictly the idea of personal use,” Bonnie says. “We planted 200 fruit trees, 1,200 raspberry plants and 2,500 strawberry plants that first year.”
Growing up on a large cattle ranch in Whitehall, Montana, Bonnie had experience tending to a large garden. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science from Montana State University. Since the original orchard, they have planted two more.
For the Martinells, their mission to be totally chemical-free is what sets them apart from other farms.
“I don’t know of any other produce farm or orchard in the state that is totally chemical-free,” Bonnie says.
There are three main reasons behind her decision to eliminate chemicals. One, you are protecting the plants and the environment. Two, the overall flavor of the product is enhanced. Three, economics.
“It is very costly to use chemicals that actually deter the growth of the plant or tree,” she explains. “If you have a very healthy soil, you really don’t need to use any kind of chemical and manage to keep your orchard clean.”
Boja Farm is unique in other ways, as well.
“There is not another orchard like this within 500 miles that has apples, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries, plums and grapes,” Bonnie says.
She relishes the peaceful, quiet environment of their farm which allows them to produce such an abundance of quality foods.
For those eager to try Boja Farm’s produce, you have numerous options. Their goods can be found at the Beartooth Market in Red Lodge and Quality Foods in Bozeman. A number of local restaurants in Bozeman, Red Lodge, Billings and northern Wyoming utilize produce from Boja Farm. Patrons can also visit the farm to purchase produce directly. There is even a delivery service for large orders in towns that already receive deliveries.
Through dedication and decades of hard work, Bonnie and Jack Martinell have cultivated a haven for quality produce and earth-conscious farming. Whether you decide to make the trip to visit Boja or purchase their products from a local retailer, the food will speak for itself.
157 Hergenrider Road, Bridger, Montana, 406.664.3010