How an Organic Farm Launched MaryJane Butters’ Million-Dollar Business

MaryJane Butters organic food - Victoria Magazine

Combining a pioneer spirit with a deep love for pretty, timeworn treasures and a passion for the outdoors, MaryJane Butters embodies the ultimate dream of running away to live off the land.

Text by Brittany Williams
Photography by Kate Sears

The stark palette of intense blue sky and fields of golden wheat as far as the eye can see inspires silence and contemplation—two pastimes known well to MaryJane Butters. Trained as a backcountry ranger, she spent eight years in the wilds of the West. Working alone in the woods left plenty of time for imagining. In 1986, MaryJane transformed those daydreams into the reality of a small farm in northwestern Idaho.

Organic produce on MaryJane Butters's farm - Victoria Magazine
The tangible peacefulness of the surroundings is remarkable, considering all that goes on at MaryJanesFarm. Daily life is a humming hive of constant activity. Friends and staff members contribute their individual talents and skills to various parts of the business. From graphic design to bulk packaging to sewing of aprons, canning, weeding of vegetable gardens, baking, laundry, and kitchen cleanup tasks, lending a hand is the order of the day here.

A single mother with two young children, she had a strong desire to live off the land. This determination, coupled with an inherent can-do entrepreneurial spirit, quickly led to the development of a modest farm-based business: an organic backpacking food line. The simplicity and goodness of the baking mixes, as well as the sparkling spirit of the woman behind them, soon propelled MaryJane from farmer to CEO.

Through her tireless energy and talents, she has established a small empire at the end of a dirt road—a million-dollar business aptly named MaryJanesFarm tucked amid amber waves of grain. At the core, MaryJane is the proud owner of a sweet organic farm employing her husband, son, daughter, and son-in-law, but her reach extends far beyond her immediate family. Remaining true to her ideals, she continues to hire local workers and has built a facility that blends seamlessly into the surrounding rural landscape, while quietly housing the entire operation behind walls of shining corrugated steel.

MaryJane’s original black-and-white food catalog has slowly evolved into a glossy photo-filled magazine and a series of how-to books. “The role of author was never on my life agenda,” she says. “But the opportunity to sell a new root crop—the stories of rural rootedness—came my way, and I put aside my hoe and started tapping my fingers on a keyboard.”

Organic food from MaryJane Butters - Victoria Magazine
MaryJane Butters sets a stunning table with cherished vintage linens and collected tableware. A farmer through and through, MaryJane’s humanitarian research efforts resulted in her determination to make a difference in the lives of others within her profession. Deeply concerned about the plight of farmers in India, whose fields are severely affected by modern-day chemical company practices, she designed a line of vintage-inspired organic bedding that celebrates the beauty of the land.
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4 Comments

  • Mary Jane embodies the very essence of my soul…a true southern girl, once removed from the country life of visiting grandparents , only to return to the daunting life on concrete…. to dream once more of the fireflies that light up the night sky, owls that have no thoughts of keeping quiet and breezes so thick with southern drawl, that the dewy mist of the nights humidity upon ones skin, is merely heaven on earth!

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