Timeless was given birth in 1987 when four organic farmers from central Montana – Bud Barta, Jim Barngrover, Tom Hastings, and David Oien – came together to grow a self-reseeding leguminous cover crop called George Black Medic, which had been developed at Montana State University by Dr. Jim Sims, and named for his father.
The dream was to introduce this new crop to farmers in the Northern Great Plains as an alternative to cultivated fallow fields and thereby reduce erosion, build organic matter, save soil moisture, and provide natural nitrogen fertilizer for following crops. We were going to change agriculture on millions of dryland acres!
The reality was that while the medic cropping system had decades of success in Australia and showed great promise both in research trials and the field, it was too far “out of the box” for most farmers, who were accustomed to buying synthetic fertilizer, suspicious of any crop that reseeded itself, and dependent on federal farm subsidies, which penalized farmers for growing cover crops on fallow ground. Black Medic was a great idea, but it turned out not to be a viable business for the “four guys enterprise.”
Undaunted, the Timeless boys, who were among the first organic farmers in Montana, remained committed to crop rotations, natural fertilizer, and alternative agriculture. Knowing that they and other organic farmers needed viable cropping and market alternatives, they turned their focus to “pulse crops,” edible annual legumes like peas and lentils. Coincidentally, the natural food industry was growing steadily by the early 1990s, and with it the demand for organic grains and seeds of all kinds.