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Graduation Date

Spring 5-2018

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

School or Department

Environmental Studies


As the alternative food movement gains traction in mainstream American society, it is essential to document how enterprises in the movement are building robust local economies. As Eric Holt-Giménez (2010: 1) points out, the movement “has successfully shone the spotlight on hunger and food access in the US, created a drive for more local food, and gotten better policy from the federal to the local level,” yet no assurance exists that our society’s interest in food issues is not a passing fad. Rather, we should ask: “how do we turn initial reforms into lasting food system transformation?” (Holt-Giménez 2010: 1). Understanding and sharing how enterprises are building resilient local economies is central to creating enduring food system transformation. This broadly guides the mission of this portfolio. Specifically, this portfolio synthesizes my graduate research and experience of four pollinator enterprises in western Montana’s food system that are applying Michael Shuman’s principles of sustainable economic development, as outlined in The Local Economy Solution (2015), to build a resilient local economy. The elements of this portfolio—a business plan for Mirthful Farm, a values-based business I aim to start in the next few years, two case studies of regional, agricultural producer cooperatives, and a program evaluation for a multi-year, regional food access program—are linked topically and in terms of process: each falls on a different position along the arc of an enterprise’s life cycle. As a whole, therefore, this portfolio documents the full-circle nature of enterprises—businesses, organizations, and partnerships—that are building resilient local economies, from design to reflection and back again.


local food, alternative food movement, local economy, pollinator, food systems, economic development, cooperatives, food access, evaluation, Mirthful Farm, organizational process, resilience

Subject Categories

Agricultural and Resource Economics | Civic and Community Engagement | Environmental Studies | Food Security | Food Studies | Place and Environment | Political Economy | Politics and Social Change | Rural Sociology | Work, Economy and Organizations

Full Circle: Building a Local Economy through Pollinator Enterprises in the Food System