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Western Sustainability Exchange and the Livingston Farmers Market

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The Livingston Farmers Market is now in its ninth
year under the direction of Western Sustainability
Exchange. The market has grown into a significant
community and economic development force.

This market has a relaxed, festival feel to it, according
to Annie Conley, Program Director for WSE. “Located
in Sacajawea Park at the bandshell, it is framed by the
Absaroka Mountains and bordered by the Yellowstone
River,” Conley said. Families and friends enjoy
prepared food and live music while shopping for fresh
local produce, meat and art.

When WSE took over the Livingston Farmers Market,
the record high for vendor participation was around
30. On busier days they consistently see 70 vendors or
more. That has led to an increase in shoppers. Last year
the market generated $174,000 for vendors, Conley

“WSE focuses primarily on agriculture and sustainable
management as a way of conserving our unique landscapes
and resources—economically, environmentally,
and socially,” said Conley, “Two-thirds of Montana’s
land base is in the care of agricultural producers. Sustainable
practices on those lands will protect what is so
special about this region.”

In the Young Entrepreneurs Stewardship program,
WSE jointly holds a camp with Links for Learning,
Junior Achievement and 4-H Biz Kids. WSE teaches
sustainable business practices and helps kids come up
with ideas for the Livingston Farmers Market “Youth
Booths.” The kids fill out their own registration form,
pay their weekly $2.50 vendor fee and take charge of
promoting and selling at their booths. The vendor fees
from “Youth Booths” are collected at the end of the
year; the kids choose a local non-profit and then present
the organization with those fees at WSE’s Holiday
Farmers Market on the first Saturday in December.

WSE works on the infrastructure of the local food system
through not only the Livingston Farmers Market,
but also with programs such as the Market Connection
Program, The Montana Farm to Restaurant Connection
and Local Foods Commerce Days – training, connecting,
and promoting buyers, sellers, processors and
distributors. This 17-year old non-profit also helped
the Bozeman Winter Farmers Market get off its feet.
“We bring together players in the local food system
and help them hash out their problems,” Conley said.


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