Lentil Underground Character List

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
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”
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.