Organic Farming
Stewards of the Land

About Us

A biodiversity island, surrounded by an ocean of Earth.

Our Story

Vilicus Institute (VI) was founded in 2015 by Anna Jones-Crabtree and Doug Crabtree to amplify the learnings of their stewardship led farming practices in North Central Montana. VI works in community with other agrarians, scientists, artists, and doers to grow a more resilient future for the agricultural industry.

In 2009 Anna and Doug founded Vilicus Farms, a dryland organic crop farm which now spans 12,508 acres in North Central Montana. As first generation agrarians, Anna and Doug started Vilicus Farms with a dream to create a farming system that would exist in harmony with the earth. They worked hard to develop practices that promote and celebrate diversity, and are free from chemical inputs. Vilicus Farms has long been celebrated for this approach to agriculture, but harsh economic and climate conditions have made this ecosystem approach to farming difficult to maintain. Anna and Doug founded Vilicus Institute with the goal of supporting apprenticeships for aspiring new agrarians at Vilicus Farms, but quickly realized that the interconnectivity they already valued in their farming practices and admired in earth's natural ecosystems would be required to make meaningful systemic change in the agricultural industry and securing a prosperous future for the Northern Great Plains.

In 2022 with the help of a new Director of Programs, Vilicus Institute rebranded and developed its four program areas to represent a more holistic approach to system wide change.

Organic Farm Work

Our Why

Farmers are on the front lines of climate change. Rapidly changing annual weather conditions mean that farmers must constantly adapt to the unpredictable. The economic and social conditions that surround agricultural operations in the Northern Great Plains discourage farmers from experimentation and development of new best practices and make it difficult for new agrarians with fresh ideas to break into the industry. These intertwined problems mean that we must develop holistic solutions that can work in tandem to create a more prosperous and resilient future for all. Vilicus Institute works to support, foster, and facilitate the learning that is required to see that future come to life.

Anybody can love the mountains, but it takes a soul to love the prairie.

Willa Cather

Our Program Areas

Vilicus Institute promotes agrarian livelihood through four program areas.