Bitterroot Catholic Worker Farm: near Missoula, Montana

Dates: March 22 - 30

Group Size: 2 student leaders, 8 participants

Cost: $600

Quick Facts:

  • Farm work in beautiful mountain air
  • Learn about the Catholic Worker Movement
  • Explore the mountains during freetime

Host Community:

The Bitterroot Catholic Worker is a 4 acre farm/orchard in Southwestern Montana - south of Missoula (location of the University of Montana) and the beautiful Bitterroot valley. They are an intentional community practicing simple, sustainable community living and exploring renewable energy and recycling. The community offers individual retreat space and manages an orchard and an expanding garden to produce food for the Catholic worker community and the excess to a homeless shelter in Missoula. Community members  also work with fragile children for the church's Newman Center and at the homeless shelter. The VISION team will learn about the Catholic Worker movement and get their hands dirty working on the farm.

Justice Issues:

The Catholic Worker movement was founded in 1933 during the Great Depression by Dorothy Day at the urging of Peter Maurin. It is best known for houses of hospitality located in run-down sections of many cities, though a number of Catholic Worker centers exist in rural areas. "Our rule is the works of mercy," said Dorothy Day. "It is the way of sacrifice, worship, a sense of reverence."

Beyond hospitality, Catholic Worker communities are known for activity in support of labor unions, human rights, cooperatives, and the development of a nonviolent culture. Those active in the Catholic Worker are often pacifists people seeking to live an unarmed, nonviolent life. During periods of military conscription, Catholic Workers have been conscientious objectors to military service. Many of those active in the Catholic Worker movement have been jailed for acts of protest against racism, unfair labor practices, social injustice and war.

A Sample Week:

Your week with The Bitterroot Catholic Worker farm will be amazing.  You’ll have the chance to experience the unbelievable  natural beauty of this area of Montana.  The farm is in view of the beautiful Sapphire Mountains and is home to the Bishop Family  and other Catholic Worker members who will be your hosts.   Your week will consist of a variety of projects on the farm.  Weather permitting, you will be building a chicken coop, pruning in their orchard and building raised beds for the upcoming planting season.  The Catholic Worker's unique service program includes much more than just the swinging of hammers. Through hard work, simple living, social analysis, and evening reflections students will be experiencing Catholic social teaching first hand. The Bitterroot Catholic Worker invites students to step out of their comfort zones, to break down stereotypes, and work to build community among the local people, as well as within the group. Alongside this work, there will also be time for rest and relaxation as you  hike and explore the beautiful surrounding area. 

Sample Daily Schedule

7:00am - 8:00am Wake up - Breakfast - Clean Up

8:00am - 12:00pm Work Projects (On and/or Off the Farms)

12:00pm - 1:00pm Lunch

1:00pm - 5:00pm Work Projects (On and/or Off the Farms)

5:00pm - 6:00pm  Wash Up / Cook Dinner / Free Time

6:00pm - 7:00pm Dinner / Clean-up

7:00pm - 9:00pm Evening Activity/Free Time

9:00pm - 10:30pm Evening Activity, Reflection

11:00pm LIGHTS OUT

Food, Lodging, and Travel:

The group will drive a 12-passenger van to the Bitterroot Valley and stay at the Catholic Worker Farm, where the group will  join in the life of the community.  Meals will be prepared and shared by all.

Cost:

The trip fee of $600 includes van rental, site transportation, lodging, work materials for the site, meals, and programmed group activities. Students should be prepared for additional expenses not included in the program fee, which include:  spending money (as determined by the group agreement), and food en route to site (~$30).