This is cool. Interested in sustainable food or getting your product into the hands of local chefs? Then this should be a fun event for you to attend.

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Farmers and ranchers get to make the first date with chefs and restaurateurs at a series of events in April. “Speed-dating” is the signature portion of Western Sustainability Exchange’s (WSE) Local Foods Commerce Days.

Ten minute “dates” between local farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs selling goods to chefs and other food businesses results in fast, efficient commerce. And that is what’s happening in Bozeman on April 15th.

WSE is bringing Local Foods Commerce Days to Bozeman on April 15th at 8:30 am at the Hilton Garden Inn and to Billings on April 22nd.

“Although more and more food is being produced locally, buyers still have problems making all the connections with the farmers and ranchers,” says Conley. “These events help facilitate those connections.”

The events also highlight the bounty of Montana-grown foods with a networking lunch that has gained a reputation as the highlight of the day. “This was the best lunch I’ve ever had and I go to a lot of business lunches,” Jim Edwards of Pattee Creek Market said of the Missoula April 1st lunch. The chef at each venue takes the opportunity to showcase his talents and the quality of local, sustainably-raised foods.

Each event has a unique agenda of workshops and presentations of interest to everyone in the local food system, and they are open to the public. The morning speed-dating session is open to all buyers and only WSE-Certified local food producers. Information on how to get certified is available at or by calling 222-0730.

At 2:30 p.m., Rick Woienski of Montana Wagyu Beef will join Justin Fisher of Ranchland Packing to share techniques for “Merchandising Your Value Added Cuts - Maximizing Your Profits by Maximizing Your Carcass.” This workshop will be of interest to beef producers, chefs, and anyone that eats beef!

At 3:00 p.m., Elisa Prescott, Lewis & Clark County’s Sustainability Coordinator, will present on “The Profitability of Sustainability,” which will critically address whether suggested practices such as motion sensor lights, LED lighting, recycling, and composting really translate into savings.

And for those confused by the hype surrounding genetically modified (GM) foods, Shon Wedde, sustainable food advocate and Institute for Responsible Technology Tipping Point member, will share with you the challenges we face regarding GMOs with his informative, “OMG, WTF are GMOs?” presentation at 3:40pm.

All workshops and presentations require registration to attend and are open to the public. Each event is at the Hilton Garden Inn in the respective towns.