open range for open space

Chase Lockhart confronts one of his bulls on a summer pasture in Buffalo Valley, as Mount Moran looms in the distance. Click to enlarge.

While working on a story recently for the new Jackson Hole food magazine, Dishing, I learned that agriculture is making a comeback in Teton Valley, Idaho. As the real estate market has imploded, landowners are turning to raising pigs, beef and even goats to help feed their families and earn a few extra bucks.

Groups such as Slow Food in the Tetons, which hosts its SlowToberFest beer and appetizer tasting tonight at Q Roadhouse, have nurtured this movement, which holds promise for any semblance of a “sustainable” lifestyle in these parts.

On his blog A Vivid Eye, photographer David Stubbs has posted a photo essay from a summer spent documenting brothers Chase and Cody Lockhart on their Jackson Hole Hereford Ranch. Once a stream monitor for the Forest Service, Stubbs re-evaluated some of his perceptions about ranching and its impact.

“Here was a small family business conserving open space and wildlife habitat by producing local food on some of the most valuable rural real estate on earth,” he writes, “a unique piece of Jackson history evolving from its roots with two fifth-generation ranching brothers — legitimate, local cowboys.”

Click here to read the full piece and view the slide show.

More and more, locally raised meat from outlets such as the Mead Ranch is turning up on menus or for sale. The Lockharts now are selling some of the fruits of their labor: grass-fed beef, available in full or half cows, that for a family or group of friends could be a sound investment.

Once viewed by greens as at worst an ecological nuisance or at best a trophy hobby, ranching is a critical piece of the locavore movement. For meat eaters, aside from hunting elk, buying from Wyoming ranches makes health, fiscal and environmental sense — while preserving the aesthetic value of open space.

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Posted under Economy, Environment, Food

3 Comments so far

  1. Less taxes = open space October 14, 2011 6:14 am

    The decision to keep ranches as AG land probably has as much to do with the property taxes and investment opportunities as with conservation & sustainability. http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_17553507

  2. joe October 14, 2011 7:07 pm

    jim stamford and david stubbs showing respect for wyoming ranchers. the times they are a changin. good job.

  3. js October 16, 2011 5:47 pm

    as usual, you’re a little off. I come from a long line of farmers.

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