Title

Perspectives of the Western Montana Grower's Cooperative: A Supplementary Case Study of Food Producers in Western Montana

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

The Western Montana Growers Cooperative (WMGC) is a coalition of growers in Western Montana whose goal is to provide the region with fresh, quality products from farms. An original study was conducted by graduate students in the fall of 2012 to understand the role of WMGC producers, staff, and customers in the local and regional food system. In this study, students focusing on the producers only interviewed the top fifteen Co-op members by sales based on the desire to learn specifically about the Co-op’s best producer assets. Original producer interviews contained fourteen open ended questions which sought to understand individual and collective producer dynamics. In my follow up research, I conducted ten additional qualitative interviews with producer members who were not included in the original sample and gained a unique perspective from individuals who had received less research attention. Other than small changes to secondary probing questions, I used the original fourteen questions in my interviews so that results could be compared between the different groups. By comparing the results of the additional interviews with results from the Co-op as a whole, I sought to understand whether or not the perspectives of producers who sell less to the Co-op differ from perspectives of the top fifteen producers. My research reveals important theoretical and practical differences between the Co-op producer-members and will help the Co-op in the future as it continues to grow and adapt to the diverse needs of members and in an effort to fulfill its role in the local and regional food system.

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Apr 12th, 9:20 AM Apr 12th, 9:40 AM

Perspectives of the Western Montana Grower's Cooperative: A Supplementary Case Study of Food Producers in Western Montana

UC 330

The Western Montana Growers Cooperative (WMGC) is a coalition of growers in Western Montana whose goal is to provide the region with fresh, quality products from farms. An original study was conducted by graduate students in the fall of 2012 to understand the role of WMGC producers, staff, and customers in the local and regional food system. In this study, students focusing on the producers only interviewed the top fifteen Co-op members by sales based on the desire to learn specifically about the Co-op’s best producer assets. Original producer interviews contained fourteen open ended questions which sought to understand individual and collective producer dynamics. In my follow up research, I conducted ten additional qualitative interviews with producer members who were not included in the original sample and gained a unique perspective from individuals who had received less research attention. Other than small changes to secondary probing questions, I used the original fourteen questions in my interviews so that results could be compared between the different groups. By comparing the results of the additional interviews with results from the Co-op as a whole, I sought to understand whether or not the perspectives of producers who sell less to the Co-op differ from perspectives of the top fifteen producers. My research reveals important theoretical and practical differences between the Co-op producer-members and will help the Co-op in the future as it continues to grow and adapt to the diverse needs of members and in an effort to fulfill its role in the local and regional food system.