Ah, spring in the Bitterroot! We in western Montana know what tough is. Mother nature loves to send us little surprises to keep us on our toes. Why would anyone want to try and grow anything in these crazy conditions you might ask? Well my friends, let me show you what miracles are happening underneath the cold layers of snow!

The miracle of spring can seem so slow in coming. We are weary from the dark and cold, and our hearts long for warmth and light. People for centuries have celebrated this awakening to new life. It is a symbol of our faith and a renewing of our spirits. The spring equinox brings rejuvenation to our lands, to our bodies, and to our very souls.

We all know what darkness is, and share a common thread of grief, suffering, and sickness. I have been going through my own darkness; a time of feeling weighed down by sorrow. As I have struggled, however, I have found that I am not alone. I am surrounded by people like you who understand and help pull me out of the darkness. This morning I walked the rows of my orchard, covered in a blanket of snow and rustled by cold winds, feeling much like my soul. Revealed before my eyes in the frigid cleanness of the air, were blossoms; beautiful yellow blossoms blanketing stark honeyberry branches. Life fighting through and bursting forth in beautiful colors. Tender leaves of raspberries gracefully curled out of seemingly dead canes. Bright green strawberry leaves peaked out from under their soft white blanket.

My spirit has been renewed today by the evidence before me of new life and an outward testament to the goodness of God and the wonder of creation. Every day we are made new. What new life is bursting out of your gardens and souls today? What healing of hearts is waiting to be found in the blooming of spring?

I love sharing with you all the passion I feel for growing things and feeling like a am part of something so much bigger than myself. We are in this together; all planted and flourishing where together we make a garden. Happy Spring and Happy Easter my fellow lovers of life and our home we call Earth. May you be blessed with hope and healing through this coming year.


Melissa Allred

Owner/Farmgirl/Crazy Berry Lady

Our farm could not exist without the overwhelming support of our community. Over the last few years many hands have come together to bring the farm where it is today. As the story of the farm continues to unfold, take a look back with us at where we started....

Updated: Mar 10

Welcome friends! I'm Melissa and I would like to share with you is a little glimpse into my story and the story of Aspen Grove Farm.

Like everyone, I have a past, but, unlike most, I grew up in a polygamous cult. Some memories are happy and some are not. As a child, I didn’t understand why we were different or what we were. I ran happy and free through the hills behind our home in the small community of members where I grew up. It was a community made up largely of my dad’s parents and brothers and sisters. My friends were my cousins. But as we grew, we became more attuned to things around us. Teachings became stronger and built up in the young minds of the children. I knew nothing of others from the outside world other than that they were dangerous, and we were not to mingle. And so, I became what I was groomed to be.

Fast forward many years, and my life journey brought me to Montana through my polygamous marriage to a man who lived here. We appeared to be the perfect family within the cult, but things are not always as they seem from the outside. Pain and loneliness were buried deep, abuse was not spoken of. These things must be justified in order to survive. My sanctuary, my church, was always in my garden. There was healing and peace in the early morning hours with my hands in the soil and the birds and bees awakening around me. I would dream of being a real farm girl and hosting people at my farm and selling at farmers markets.

As the years went by, my eyes began to open to the lies and manipulation of the corrupt men in the system I was a part of. I began to turn my back on their teachings and the shunning from the community and abuse from my spouse intensified. During this time, my husband miraculously decided to give me permission to be a farmer. He saw it as a means for me to bring more money in for him, but I finally saw my door to freedom. I had a way to escape and realize my dream.

My first markets consisted of a few zucchinis, a couple baskets of strawberries, and a few jars of jam that I frantically made the night before so my table wouldn’t look so empty! Now, in 2022, I am blown away by how fast my business has grown. I have a beautiful 6-acre berry farm and process my gourmet jams and syrups in quantities by the 1,000’s. Our products can be found in locations all across Montana, and we are heading into our first year of full production on the farm.

As I came to know folks in the farming community here in our valley, they began to reach out to me. I have found friends who are passionate about the land just as I am, and I have also been surrounded by a large faith community who have helped me and my children become free from the tyranny and abuse of the cult. I work hard at my dream because I have the right to! There are days when the work is too hard and the memories of my past are too great, but God surrounds me in these moments with friends and the bounty of the harvest to lift me up and give me purpose. Nothing brings me more joy than to be able to share what I grow with others. I love meeting you at the markets and having you come to my farm. I love seeing the next generation of children bury themselves in the raspberry patch and come out with berries stuck on the ends of their fingers like olives, or stuffing strawberries into their mouths that are as big as their palms. I love the delight on your faces when you taste the unique sweetness of a honeyberry for the first time.

The story of Aspen Grove Farm is a story of freedom, of faith, of community, and of the American dream. I hope that my story will be an inspiration to other women coming from abuse and a call to action for all of us to reach out a hand of hope to those in need around us. Please come visit it us when you are in the Bitterroot. New faces are always welcome.

God Bless,

Melissa Allred

Owner/Farm Girl/Crazy Berry Lady