Lentil Underground Character List David Oien Central character. Third generation farmer who dropped out of graduate school in 1976 to convert his family’s Conrad, Montana farm to organic agriculture. One of the four founding farmers of Timeless Natural Food, David is the company’s current CEO. Sharon Eisenberg Recently retired as Chief Financial Officer of Timeless Natural Food. Sharon is married to David Oien and gardens with him at their Conrad, Montana farm. Jim Barngrover Also a founding farmer of Timeless Natural Food, Jim Barngrover got interested in organic agriculture after watching his father die from exposure to the insecticide parathion. Jim works with the Timeless growers network and is also an active board member of Helena Community Gardens, in Helena, Montana. Bud Barta The third founding farmer of Timeless Natural Food, Bud Barta converted his family’s Lewistown, Montana farm to organic production. He now leases the land to other organic farmers and builds green homes through his business Barta Built. Tom Hastings Fourth founding farmer of Timeless Natural Food, and a distant relative of David Oien’s. Tom is now retired in Conrad, Montana. Russell Salisbury Lifelong organic farmer from Floweree, Montana, known for his enthusiasm for auction sales and used farm equipment. Russ didn’t have to convert his land to organic, because he never started using chemicals in the first place. The first member of the Timeless growers network, Russ was instrumental in helping the business get started. Elsie Tuss Raised on a Montana homestead, Elsie Tuss married Russell Salisbury after several decades of teaching school as a nun. She is a partner in Russ’s family farm and grows and preserves much of the couple’s food. Jim Sims Renegade researcher from Montana State University who worked with Montana’s early organic farming movement to develop and promote appropriate rotation crops. Jon Tester United States Senator from Montana and longtime member of the Timeless growers network. Clay (Tuna) McAlpine Longtime member of the Timeless growers network, who raises minor acreage of organic crops in Valier, Montana, where he has a grassfed cattle operation. Jerry Habets A lifelong neighbor of David Oien’s, Jerry converted his farm to organic and began growing for Timeless. Casey Bailey A young farmer from Fort Benton, Montana, who is gradually converting his family’s land to organic. Casey has an eclectic humanistic background, which includes education in music, religion, and urban studies, and he formerly managed a community garden. Doug Crabtree and Anna Jones-Crabtree Members of the Timeless growers network, Doug and Anna manage Vilicus Farms, 45 miles north of Havre, Montana. Anna holds a PhD and does sustainability work for the US Forest Service; Doug holds a master’s degree in agricultural economics and ran Montana’s organic inspection program before becoming a full-time farmer himself. The Crabtrees have also developed an apprenticeship program. Jody and Crystal Manuel Devout Christians who have homeschooled their six children, the Manuels converted their Havre, Montana farm to organic for ethical and health reasons. Members of the Timeless growers network, they also raise and direct market grassfed meat. Jacob and Courtney Cowgill Proprietors of Prairie Heritage Farm, which raises heritage grains and supplies organic vegetables to dozens of central Montana families, through a Community Supported Agriculture program. Jacob and Courtney got their start as tenants at David Oien’s farm, and they recently bought their own place in Power, Montana. Mariah and Brandon O’Halloran Two young farmers who are relatively recent additions to the Timeless grower’s network, Brandon and Mariah farm in Lewistown, Montana. Daryl and Linda Lassila Timeless growers who raise organic grain and legumes on Daryl’s family place, just outside of Great Falls, MT. Jerry and Kathy Sikorski Members of the Timeless growers network who raise no-till grain and legumes on Jerry’s family place, between Baker and Ekalaka, Montana. Leni Yeager, Jason Roberts, Loren Nicholls, Heather Hadley, Mike Ferrara, Mary Hensley Current and former staff at the Timeless plant Bruce Maxwell Professor and weed ecologist at Montana State University, who has frequently collaborated with organic farmers Al Slinkard (Dr. Lentil) Retired lentil breeder from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, who originally released Black Beluga lentils as a cover crop, then known as Indianhead lentils. Nancy Matheson Former staff member at the Alternative Energy Resources Organization, who directed the Farm Improvement Club program. Kye Cochran Founder of the Alternative Energy Resources Organization Blu Funk Chef at Showthyme in Bigfork, Montana, and one of the first to use Black Beluga lentils in a restaurant Ann Sinclair Founder of the now-shuttered business Fair Exchange, which purchased Timeless lentils for their “Shari’s Bistro” soups. Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO) Nonprofit “citizen’s renewable energy organization” founded in 1974 to promote alternatives to fossil fuel-based technologies, AERO was the meeting ground for the founders of Timeless. Headquartered in Helena, Montana.