A Montana Family Lives off the Land

Heroes, Local Heroes
on October 1, 2009

Where does our food come from? That depends. Ask most children and they’d say, “From the supermarket.” But if you asked Oliver Berkey, he’d say, “From the garden and the forest.”

Oliver lives in Missoula, Mont., with his sister Emmeline and parents, Jim Berkey and Claire Emery. The family belongs to Grubshed, a group of local people who believe in eating food produced as close to home, and as organically, as possible. They know that local and organic means food that is safer, healthier and less demanding on the environment.

Most of the Grubshedders focus on vegetables provided by a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, which allows families to buy into the harvest in advance, thus sharing the risks and the abundance alike from the farm. But Oliver’s family carries the theme further, with Jim heading out into the forest every fall during hunting season to supply meat for his family. Jim had never hunted before his 1992 move to Montana, but now he hunts for deer and elk and loves the feeling of connection with nature, living in the moment and experiencing the wild that hunting provides. When he is successful, he feels grateful to the animal and says prayers for its spirit, much as humans have done for the countless thousands of years.

To learn more about how CSA farms work, check out the video below.

By Dorothy Patent, a food writer in Missoula, Mont.

Related: Venison Stew
Found in: Heroes, Local Heroes