Local Food Challenge: Western Sustainability Exchange

August 23, 2017

Categories: Agriculture, Food, Plains Speaking, Uncategorized

In this blog post, we are excited to feature a post from Western Sustainability Exchange and their support of local foods. We are lucky to have their support for this year’s Local Foods Challenge!

Preserving What’s Best about the West for Future Generations – Open Space, Wildlife Habitat, and Farming & Ranching Heritage – While Strengthening Rural Economies

Western Sustainability Exchange (WSE) was founded in 1994 to conserve the abundance of the Northern Rockies including its open spaces; wildlife habitats; soil, air, and water resources; rural communities; and agricultural land and heritage. Today, WSE continues to successfully bring together concerned parties who are committed to the future of the region. The organization has aided nearly 1,000 farmers and ranchers in designing and implementing innovative and sustainable production strategies, developed value-added markets for these producers, educated thousands of consumers about the long-term benefits of sustainable purchasing, and increased access to sustainably produced local foods for citizens of the region.

 

Rooted in this region and connected to the world

WSE consists of local, regional, national, and international partners working cooperatively to resolve problems facing the rural West. Our members are farmers and ranchers, small business owners, conservationists, sportsmen, retirees, teachers, and more – encompassing the full spectrum of people living in the region. Additionally, WSE collaborates with government partners, as well as companies genuinely committed to sustainability.

WSE embraces the principles of “sustainability” which recognize our responsibility to future generations and the relationship between human well-being and the health of the natural world. It is a journey comprised of individual choices and does not demand perfection in the beginning. These choices collectively lead to healthy natural and social systems–systems which can be sustained long into the future. Environmental stewardship, economic prosperity and community well-being are pursued as inseparable goals.

 

Thinking outside the box

W

SE focuses exclusively on voluntary, incentive-based strategies and financially reward landowners for exemplary stewardship by marketing their products to lucrative niche markets. We celebrate local food and showcase sustainable goods and services while also providing educational workshops for ranchers in sustainable ranch management and chefs in sustainable cuisine. We help new residents learn ways to protect the West’s landscape and culture, and offer information, options, inspiration, and hope.

WSE collectively problem solves and consistently seeks solutions “outside the box.” In the face of polarizing issues, WSE remains non-political and committed to seeking nonpartisan solutions. We neither lobby nor litigate. WSE is committed to the well-being of the West’s future generations and to the preserva

 

tion of its landscape and culture. We strongly believe its people are fully up to the task of sustaining its unique character.

Bringing people together

WSE focuses energy on engaging the people who make their living off the land and the many small businesses in our food system to create an alternative economic structure based on sustainable practices. We work with farmers and ranchers to identify and implement stewardship practices that protect resources and habitat.

We reward this stewardship by building relationships between these producers and customers who value the products. WSE brings together farmers, ranchers, processors, distributors, and market buyers to share their needs and together find ways to build a food system that is healthy, humane, environmentally responsible, and locally based.

We help chefs afford to pay reasonable premium prices for locally produced goods by linking them to resources that save money by conserving energy and water and reducing waste. Lastly, we mentor sustainable entrepreneurship among children so that our next generation of business leaders understands the importance of giving back to their community and the responsibility of being good stewards of the world in which they live.

To learn more about becoming part of our Local Food program click here or contact Local Food Program Coordinator Madeline Kelly: mkelly@wsestaff.org 406.222.0730 ext. 6

NORTHERN PLAINS RESOURCE COUNCIL
220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 248-1154
info@northernplains.org