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Ketchum: The World's Next EcoVillage? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dale Bates   
Tuesday, 18 September 2012 22:14

How can we live in a way that is sustainable for our planet and fulfils our life potential?  This may be the most significant question of our time and of our lives. In an age where green marketing is designed to help us live unsustainably for a little while longer, and the media message is that we can save the world by consuming “Green” or changing a light bulb, what choices can we make that are effective and improve our quality of life?

    In 2008, my wife, Peggy, and I felt we were living as green a lifestyle as anyone we knew. We were living in a solar-powered house situated on a small lot in town. We walked and rode our bikes everywhere we could, and we ate organic food.

    Then, in 2006 we took a trip to Findhorn on the northern coast of Scotland.  Findhorn has always had an allure to us.  A legendary place founded in the 60’s that grew cabbages in sand on the North Sea, has developed into an international conference center and spiritual community where people have been growing their own food and creating a vibrant, healthy, sustainable community for 50 years.  Findhorn opened our eyes to see  that our sustainable lifestyle was missing a key element: eating local, seasonal food. We understood this is the single best answer to our question of living both a sustainable and a fulfilling life.

    If they could do it there, could we do it here in the Wood River Valley? At first, we didn’t think we would be able to get the variety of foods necessary, and I was very uncertain I would have the willpower to change the way I eat. But the model of health, sustainability and community we witnessed at Findhorn really inspired us. Now, after four years on a primarily local and seasonal diet, we can answer yes. It is not only possible; it is immensely fulfilling and far easier than we thought. We are leaner, healthier, living with increased vitality, and are more connected to our food, the seasons, the local growers and our community. 

    Last year at the Ketchum Community Development Corporation’s public workshop a cross section of our community from across all age, income, and political demographics gathered to ask the question “What is our Common Vision for a Vibrant Sustainable Community?” One of the common ground statements agreed upon unanimously by the 64 participant was a commitment to develop a practical farm-to-table food distribution network in the valley.

    After some further research we were surprised to see the resources already in place. We have plenty of land with intact farms and local agriculture knowledge. There is access to good water and an ability to work with the high desert climate. There is a small but growing and committed group of farmers dedicated to planting and harvesting “real” food. There are well-established farmers’ markets in Ketchum and Hailey. Local food is available at grocery stores and specialty shops, and above all we have Idaho’s Bounty. This visionary co-op is a year-round virtual farmers market. Log on, order your food, and it is delivered to central locations in the valley every week. Idaho’s Bounty’s work in setting up this distribution network has enabled many growers to bring food to our tables 12 months of the year. It has been instrumental in educating, marketing and creating a viable food network in the Wood River Valley.

    So, the basic infrastructure exists, but to be sustainable, the capacity must be built and gaps must be filled. The single biggest challenge is to grow the demand for local food. To sustain the local food growers and allow this opportunity to thrive, more of us must vote with our forks and choose local. The farmers have the ability to increase production. The distribution systems works. But, as Tanya Cobb,  author of the book "The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food." and senior associate at The UVA Institute for Environmental Negotiation puts it, we need to turn consumers into “people seeking a way to create more meaningful and balanced relationships with our food and environment, our families and friends, our personal health, and with our communities.” 

   We need people to understand that a healthy local food economy is the basis for reviving the local economy, making it vital again. Changing the way you eat is the first step towards doing this. It is the first step on the path to a sustainable lifestyle.

            What are you waiting for? 


Dale Bates, co-founder of Community Rising

Local action for positive change

Community organizing

Personal & group transition consulting.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 September 2012 22:14
Harvest Thanks PDF Print E-mail

Letter to the Editor - Mountain Express, 17 Nov. 2008

The season is turning. The harvest is in.  It is time to give thanks.  It is no coincidence that we celebrate our gratitude with a feast of food.  Food is what brings us together.  Food is the ever-present reminder of our connection with the abundance and mystery of nature.   Knowingly or unknowingly we have been given a feast of knowledge and inspiration from a variety of local gardens in the last week.

The ERC set the table initiating a discussion group about sustainable food systems “Menu for the Future”. Community Rising served an appetizer event at the Community Library,  “The True Cost of Food” that introduced local producers and generated a discussion about the hidden price of factory agriculture.   The Sawtooth Botanical Garden served up Rosalind Creasy, the inventor of the term “Edible Garden”, for a lecture and series of cooking events based on her books.  Sun Valley Center for the arts followed with a main course of Michael Pollan.  Mr. Pollen helped us understand that by eating local, eating less and eating whole foods, we each are voting with our fork to reduce energy consumption, lower carbon footprint, increase health, and create community.  The dessert was a real feast of local foods and community at the Next Stage Theater, put on by Idaho’s Bounty a web based food co-op that connects local producers with markets in Blaine County and Boise.  Over 200 people gathered around great food and wine supplied by local chefs and restaurants.
As an astute official noted at this summers spike in food prices, civilization is only nine meals from anarchy.  We depend upon energy, transportation, and agricultural systems that are vulnerable, brittle and over extended.  Last week’s offerings should fuel our will to build a robust and economically sound food shed that brings more resilience, healthier food, and a more interdependent community year round.  We don’t know what the future brings, but we do know we will need to eat.
Dale Bates
Steering Committee
Community Rising

Sun Valley Online PDF Print E-mail

Video: Community Rising Launch

Sun Valley Online – Sunday, April 27, 2008
Play Video
            Watch Community Rising Video

Peak Oil and Global Warming were at the top of the agenda for the launch of a grassroots organization launched by Peggy & Dale Bates to make our community more resilient to the changes ahead.

In the video, they give background on their visit to Findhorn, Scotland, which may be the most sustainable community in the world. Peggy & Dale recapped their 7-day experience and laid out a roadmap how the community can get together to address the challenges facing the community. Their approach was both laying out a daunting challenge while being optimistic that our community has the human and financial capital to make a smooth transition.

[The video is approximately 1 hour long. You may want to hit play and then hit
the pause button so that it caches the video so you can skip ahead if you'd like.


Video (Online)

Community Rising discusses a better future by Gary Stivers


Articles (PDFs)

My Peak Oil Moment by Dale Bates
September 3, 2008 – Wood River Journal

Rise up for the future, by Dana DuGan
September 5, 2008, Mountain Express

Can you spare some of all that change, by Dale Bates
September 17, 2008 – Wood River Journal

The real cost of ‘free’ plastic bags, by Diana Fassino
September 24, 2008 – Wood River Journal

Farmers Markets connect people to their food
, by Peggy Bates
October 1, 2008 – Wood River Journal

Building Lifeboats is a titanic challenge, by Dale Bates
October 15, 2008 – Wood River Journal