Where’s your beef … from?

We all like to imagine that the beef we eat came from a cow living a happy-go-lucky life, frolicking on lush green pastures until a gentle and painless end. Obviously the average American does NOT want to meet their dinner while he/she is still standing.

B-Bar Ranch organic grass-fed White Park cattle, Big Timber MT

However, the idea that you could, if you wanted, meet the farmer who raised your dinner, is not so far fetched. It’s just not so easy when you shop in any conventional big name supermarket. You’ll find miles of plastic-wrapped Styrofoam trays full of bright red steaks, roasts, and ground beef, but you’re not likely to see any labels identifying where it was born and raised.

Consideration for the animals and the consumers who eat them has been overtaken by the drive for profit. In response to the damaging impact of feedlot production, more and more farmers and ranchers are choosing to return to, and improve upon, traditional methods of raising cattle on grass.


It takes a community to raise healthy sheep!

Enclosed by surrounding mountain ranges, where black cattle and white sheep graze in sunshine filtered through a slight haze of wildfire smoke, a community comes together to concentrate on healthy animals, healthy soil, and healthy families.

In small conference rooms, living rooms, and farmers’ fields, there are ranchers teaching ranchers new techniques to manage – and reduce – parasite infestation in small ruminants. Dave Scott, NCAT Agriculture Specialist and owner of Montana Highland Lamb, led friends and neighbors through diagnostic systems to identify infected sheep and methods to help control parasites.


A Soil Crawl in Big Timber MT

On the left, Nichole Masters, the director of Integrity Soils, Auckland NZ, and on the right, Tony Hartshorn, Assistant Professor,
Land Resources and Environmental Science, MSU Bozeman.

When one of the world’s experts on soil health and land resilience (from Auckland, NZ, a 9,500 mile trek) is scheduled to lead a day-long workshop just 170 miles away, you – and 70+ other people – will do everything you can to be there!

Nichole Masters, the director of Integrity Soils, is a social ecologist, systems thinker, and adult educator., headquartered in Auckland NZ. Nichole is passionate about getting farmers and ranchers back into control of their soil health and nutrients, and crop and animal management. By adopting a “soils first” – ground up – approach, she teaches methods that have positive effects on both human and environmental health.

Learn more about measuring the BRIX of forage plants, how to improve biodiversity by feeding seed to cattle, how the soil breathes, and what on earth dung beetles are good for?


From Sex Worker to Farmer

His jaw dropped.

When 29-year-old China Dessale approached the Wain Hotel where she used to work as a commercial sex worker, carrying a basket teeming with cabbage, carrots, lettuce and eggs, the hotel owner couldn’t believe his eyes. He remembered China when she was 15 years old. In desperation, China had joined the same hotel to make a livelihood in Ethiopia’s risky commercial sex worker industry.

Today, China and 17 sex workers from Kombolcha work in a USAID Urban Gardens Program (USAID UGP) garden only a half kilometer from the hotel. The group originally started a poultry farm in 2006 through local implementing partner Nigat in the town of Kombolcha, in northeastern Ethiopia. Last year they diversified their portfolio and added vegetables to the thousands of eggs they were selling to various restaurants and cafés around town.

In 2010, the group graduated from the USAID UGP program and has been gardening nutritious vegetables since. In an odd play of events, their former care-taker has become one of their most valued customers. After graduation the group expanded its garden and with the 2010 savings purchased another 250 chickens.

(Repeat: This article was previously published on GoodFood World.
We thought you’d enjoy reading it again.)


Gulch Distillers: Beyond Bread and Beer

What happens when two friends start dreaming about opening a distillery and making whisky in central Montana?

Mix in shared childhood memories, inherited Helena red hair, and a love for single malt whisky, and you get Gulch Distillers.

Gulch Distillers has a hometown feel and offers hometown products. Tyrrell Hibbard and Steffen Rasile use Montana-grown grains in their grain-based spirits, and use locally grown herbs, fruits, and other products when possible on both sides of the business – botanicals in the factory and fruit and berries at the tasting bar.