Small-scale farmers are pushing the limits of how food is produced and distributed to local markets.
This week, Homegrown Stories features three young farmers making local food available to urban markets, changing the way food goes from their farms to your table, and making local food accessible to people living in some of the most urban markets in WORC’s network of states.
Even cities surrounded by rich farmland, like Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Boise, Idaho; and Billings, Montana, often deal with a lack of fresh, local food due to modern agricultural infrastructure dominated by large-scale farming and lack of processing facilities. These forward-thinking producers are working hard to buck this trend that leads to food deserts, even in the agricultural heart of the US. They’re hoping to get fresh vegetables to markets traditionally served only by bulk suppliers, including hospitals and restaurants (even in the middle of the winter).
Ian Caselli: Market Gardener and Beginning Farmer
Depending on the time of the year, Ian Caselli has two very different jobs. From September through May, Ian works as a Community Facilitator for the Sioux Falls School District. During the growing season, Ian is what he calls “a market gardener,” a small scale, micro producer.
“I think that local food is important,” said Ian, “Aside from the fact that I love gardening and growing food, I think that the local movement is important in promoting South Dakota’s progress.”
Stephanie Rael: Organic Farmhand
“I was raised on a lot of processed food. Canned goods, Hamburger Helper, frozen entrees, that sort of thing. I’ve always loved to eat but it wasn’t until I volunteered on an organic farm in Germany that I found my passion for good, nourishing food and organic farming. Before working on the farm in Germany I had never participated in the growing and harvesting of the food I consumed. It was the first time I was able to follow food on its journey from seed to plate. It was so satisfying to pick tomatoes in the morning and then chop them up into a salad for lunch in the afternoon. I was able to connect with my food in a way I never had before. Everything just tasted so much better. It made a huge impact on how I wanted to live my life,” said farmhand Stephanie Rael.
Brittany Moreland – Yellowstone Valley Food Hub
“I’m a native Montanan and have always had an interest in agriculture,” said farmer Brittany Moreland in Luther, Montana.
Brittany grew up in central Montana with summers spent helping on the family grain farm. Despite Brittany’s exposure to agriculture, she went on to study at the University of Montana. “I wanted to be a lawyer and change the world so I got a degree in philosophy,” said Brittany. “But I couldn’t stop thinking about this theme of what makes for a good life and what I wanted to look back on and be proud of…”