A farmer in Belgrade just found a new home for his family’s fast-growing farm.
You might not expect what it is that they are growing, "we’ve had thousands of people come through our facilities since we’ve opened," says James Rolin.
James Rolin and his wife, Kathy, have a mission that sounds simple. “Everything that we do is about feeding more people," Rolin said. “This is really an enormous growth for the company.”
So, it’s no surprise that he’s a farmer -- one that’s seeing a big boost in business. “This last year has been amazing," Rolin said. "We’re finally getting into retail. We’re really dialed in on what we’re doing.”
To find out the secret of their success, you just take a look inside one of Rolin’s many bins.
Yep, those are crickets, hence the name “Cowboy Cricket Farms," something you might be used to seeing being a pet lizard’s food, perhaps. And these insects just got a new home.
“We have a brand new space, 10,000 square feet in Bozeman that’s going to have 7,000 square feet of farm and 3,000 square feet of educational space," Rolin told MTN News.
“This is an enormous deal for us. Our current space is 1,800 square feet. We’re keeping this space as our commercial kitchen so all of the production will still be handled here but the new space being 10,000 square feet, I mean, that’s more than what we have right now,” he added.
In just a year, Rolin says business has nearly tripled, making it hard for folks to come here and check it out. With this new location, more people will be able to come in, take a look at the crickets and help spread the word of alternative proteins even faster.
“We had to stop our public tours earlier this year because I just can’t have 40 kindergartners running through a commercial kitchen," Rolin said.
“By the year 2050, we’re supposed to have over 9 billion people on the planet. We cannot support that with our current agricultural practices. Our crickets are extremely efficient to grow and have a huge amount of nutrition. Because of that, we can use fewer resources.”
It’s 1,800 feet to 10,000, that’s a big jump for the aptly named “Smokey Jumpers.”
“People are definitely starting to understand that we need to change the way that we eat," Rolin says. “I’ll eat a hamburger any day but if you change just one of your meals, just change some of your snacks over to insects, it makes an enormous difference in the world.”
The new location will be at the north end of Bozeman, across from Story Mill Park.
Rolin expects to see it open by early next year -- and in a land of growth like Gallatin County, he added it’s the perfect spot.
“Agri-tourism has really taken off here," Rolin says. "We’re just adding to that.”