Local food is a simple, meaningful choice. In general, the fewer miles a bite of lettuce has to travel to your plate, the lower its carbon footprint will be. Eating seasonal crops helps shrink your carbon footprint too: products that ripen in the sun nearby have the smallest carbon footprint.
Buying local food is good for Bozeman’s economy, because your dollars stay here in town. Plus, you get the benefit of eating the freshest possible crops, some of which don’t transport very well. You can have confidence in the way your food was grown. Have concerns about the chemicals used on a crop, or the way a farmer treats his or her employees? Just stop by a booth at the Farmer’s Market and ask!
Grow and Harvest Your Own
Bozeman has three community gardens on city-owned land, at Langhor Park, Westlake Park, and behind City Hall. Plots function as a yearly rental space, which can be renewed year after year. There is currently a waiting list for plots at certain locations, but a few open plots do exist! To inquire about a plot, or get on the waiting list for a specific garden, call the City Shops Complex at 582.3200 ext 4.
Climate and Plant Hardiness
Plant Hardiness Zone Map, from the USDA. Revised in 2010, the zones are generally one 5-degree Fahrenheit half-zone warmer than the 1990 map throughout much of the United States. This shift in temperature highlights the practical need to stay informed about our changing climate.
There are many available resources to help you in your journey to growing your own food. From a volunteer group who will turn your sod into a veggie bed, to specific information from MSU on growing strawberries, asparagus and more, there is a local answer for every gardening problem in Bozeman.
Local Gardening Resources
Get free help building a garden plot:1,000 New Gardens
Great Bozeman gardening book, written by an MSU Professor: Rocky Mountain Vegetable Gardening
MSU Extension: resources on every conceivable gardening question Everything from growing garlic in Montana to creating fire-resistant landscapes.
Rocky Mountain Gardening:Great Magazine on Gardening in Montana
Collect Unwanted Fruit – Gleaning:1,000 New Gardens
Urban Chickens Urban chickens are happily clucking and scratching their way around Bozeman backyards right now. Chicken-owners can collect their eggs and know exactly what their birds have been eating and how they’ve been treated. The carbon footprint of these eggs is smaller than eggs from industrial-type production facilities. Urban chickens require a pet permit, which costs $25 for up to six chickens. See the city’s website to apply for a permit, see requirements regarding number of chickens, lot size, and neighbor notification requirements of the ordinance. Did we mention the many joys of chicken watching? Hunting and Fishing Montana is a spectacular place for hunting and fishing. For the carnivores among us, hunting and fishing can really reduce the carbon footprint of your food. Check with Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks for information regarding licenses, seasons, and regulations.
Buy Local Foods
Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs)
CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture, which basically functions as a local-food subscription service. A CSA lets farmers anticipate how many customers they can count on for the season, and gives them a chunk of capital with which to prepare for the growing season, effectively lowering the bar for entry into farming. In Bozeman, you can get CSAs for veggies, milk, cheese, fruit, flour, coffee (locally roasted), and more. See this list of local CSAs, and decide if one is right for you (scroll to the bottom of the page for the list).
Bozeman is the proud home to three farmer’s markets. Come and get some grub! Treating a farmer’s market as you would a grocery store is one of the best things you can do to ensure the survival of local farms, and continued existence of farmland in the Gallatin Valley. The core purpose of a farmer’s market is local food distribution, direct from farmer to cook.
Bogert Farmer’s Market
For 2012, this market runs from 5 to 8 pm on Tuesday nights, until September 25th.
A huge variety of produce, prepared food and craft products are available here. All vendors are required to display information regarding where their product was produced. This market has opted to increase variety of products and celebrate a larger farming community by allowing farm products grown out of state to be sold. If you’re looking to support local agriculture, just look at vendors’ signs, and buy local.
Rockin TJ Ranch Farmer’s Market
For 2012, this market runs from 5 to 8 pm on Monday nights, until September 24th.
At this market, you know that local means local. The organizers require that all veggies be 100 percent grown, produced or collected in Montana. All starts and plants are grown by the producers selling them, never resold at a markup from wholesalers. Processed foods (like pickles and jelly) must be produced in Montana, and meat products are labeled with the name and location of the ranch where the animal was raised. Crafts are all handmade predominantly of material grown or gathered by the vendor in Western Montana.
Gallatin Valley Farmer’s Market
In 2012, this market runs from 9 am to noon on Saturdays, until September 8th.
At this market, all items are required to be made or grown by the vendor. Sales are limited to produce, handmade crafts, flowers, herbs, houseplants, and baked goods. It was voted best market in Montana 2011 in voting held by the American Farmland Trust.
Online Farmer’s Market: Order for Pickup
If you can’t fit a flesh-and-blood farmer’s market into your schedule, consider buying farm-direct online. This site allows you to pick local products from a long list of Greater Yellowstone farms and ranches, from veggies to steak and fruit to flour. Choose a basket of what you want, and pick-up your order at one of many Bozeman-area locations.
Bozeman Winter Farmer’s Market
Local food, all four seasons. Get ready to be surprised with the bounty the winter can bring! Two Saturdays a month, the Bozeman Winter Farmers’ Market is in the Emerson Ballroom, from 9am to noon. It focuses on vendor-raised produce and farm products, preserved goods, and craft-products (like soap) made with a large proportion of local inputs, this market showcases the bounty of food products produced in our region all year long. All in all, it’s a great way to warm your belly and your heart on a cold winter’s day.
Bozeman Eats: Documentary
To get up to speed on Montana’s food system, check out Bozeman Eats, a documentary film survey on local food in the Gallatin Valley. The film is created by Montana State University students and features local farmers and food experts.