#179 It Takes a Scientist - Daniel Stewart, High Country Fungus

As the Meaningful Marketplace Podcast Show continues its mission connecting food entrepreneurs with resources for success, we explore the six-state Regional Food Business Center one state at a time. Having spent the first two months of this year with Oregon foodpreneurs, we begin learning from Wyoming’s best by joining with co-co host Melissa Hemken from Central Wyoming College. Melissa is the community food systems specialist at the college. Her role is to support market infrastructure and sales channels, boosting food companies from their current level to their next level. Wyoming has a state law that is a big help to entrepreneurs by allowing their cottage industry to flourish. Sounding similar to the Tennessee law discussed in episode #177, entrepreneurs can sell directly from their kitchen to the end consumer without licensing or inspection. The entrepreneur also can sell on consignment through a retailer, expanding their reach far past traditional farmers market sales. Melissa’s program also has put on well-attended multi-day workshops touching on all aspects of the food industry from farming to production to consumer acceptance. Today, the trio is interviewing Daniel Stewart, founder of High Country Fungus offering functional mushroom products for everyday living. They are a small, family-owned and operated business in Riverton, Wyoming and their goal is to offer the highest quality mushroom infused products plus fun merchandise. A physics major in college, Daniel was taking a botany class in 2012 at Washington State University. On an outdoor hike with a group of friends and family in Idaho one of the party came running up with their hat full of morel mushrooms, talking excitedly about all sorts of recipes and what they planned to do with them that week. Daniel had never seen a mushroom before and was fascinated. That moment was Daniel’s "ah-hah!" moment and sparked his continued love and curiosity for mushrooms. Shop their products on their website: https://highcountryfungus.com/, Follow them on IG @high_country_fungus and FB@highcountryfungus. Our hosts: Twitter - @sarahmasoni and @spicymarshall, Instagram - @masoniandmarshall.

#180 No Gluten? No Problem - Sara Woods, Wyoming Heritage Grains

Today, we welcome a fifth generation farmer, Sara Woods of Wyoming Heritage Grains. The family farm had started a malting company a few years ago and sold to beverage brewers quite successfully. The pandemic put a hold on that business, but the farm began milling flour as the lockdown put a huge demand on that commodity. Sara left the farm at adulthood, but after having a corporate life and kids, she desired a slower lifestyle. So Sara quit her corporate job and returned as the mill had become a thriving business. It turned out to be a very steep learning curve for Sara as producing flour is not the simple process it appears to be from the outside. The company now offers five to six different grains from their mill and their equipment has been upgraded as the company expands and becomes more efficient. Sara also has gone down the proverbial entrepreneur rabbit holes, experimenting with heirloom vegetables, varieties of animals and other commodities that in the end were not good business ventures. Sara points to our changing diet as a driver for their choices of grains. After World War II, wheat was hybridized in order to feed a growing population. That phenomenon has created a very large population of people who are now sensitive to gluten, so that has served to take wheat out of the mix of grains that can be raised and processed for Wyoming Heritage Grains. Now the older varieties of grains are more tolerable, but of course the yield per acre is smaller than the hybridized wheat, so it becomes a price/quantity/quality puzzle for Sara and the family. The big breakthrough has been finding customers who could not eat grains previously and can now eat Wyoming Heritage Grains every day.  You can find their products in farmers markets in Cody and others around Wyoming. They also are about to be stocked in Bayard Grocery stores. Be forgiving when buying online from their website, as it is being re-built and all the recipes were deleted in the process: https://www.wyomingheritagegrains.com/. Follow them on IG, FB and TikTok: wyomingheritagegrains. Our hosts: Twitter - @sarahmasoni and @spicymarshall, Instagram - @masoniandmarshall.

#181 Fit for a Cowboy - Tyler McCann, Wyoming Cowboy Cuts

It’s the middle of calving season for ranchers, and if you don’t know what that means, you’re not alone. Tyler and Angela McCann fifth generation ranchers and owners of Wyoming Cowboy Cuts can tell you. It’s when the cows are giving birth to their baby calves and as Tyler says, averages about three a day. That’s intense work and Tyler admits he’s rather tired as he gives his interview. The idea of “finishing beef” started about 12 years ago when Tyler and Angela married. Finishing is a process of essentially fattening up the cattle with the corn and grain feed instead of selling off the cattle after only grazing them in the pasture. Deciding that they would be losing money on the grazed cattle by selling them at auction, they chose to keep and finish the cattle and found the taste after processing was incredibly good. That led to the path of selling their choice beef direct to the public and eventually added pork and lamb to the product line. Business must be good, as a look at their website shows they are sold out of almost every offering. The company has found that the grasses in their pastures produce a unique flavor and have been experimenting with the combination of grasses and cross-breeding to offer multiple flavors of their products. When products are available, buy online at: https://www.wyomingcowboycuts.com/. Follow them on IG: @wyomingcowboycuts, FB: @wyomingcowboycuts Our hosts: Twitter - @sarahmasoni and @spicymarsh

#182 Nothing "Goaty" Here - Lindsey Washkoviak & Ben Elzay, Medicine Bow Creamery

It began 12 years ago when Lindsey and Ben fell in love over food. Lindsey is a Wisconsin native, so cheese is part of her heritage. Ben is a Wyoming native and hunting, fishing, gardening and the processing of food is his background, so their union was destiny. A year after meeting, they began making goat cheese leasing part of a friend’s farm to feed and milk their goats. But when the Wyoming Food Freedom Act passed and they could make value-added products in their unlicensed kitchen, they started Slow Goat Farm. Volume grew to the point in 2017 they needed to grow past their own home. Then in 2019, Brush Creek Ranch contacted them because the Ranch had put in an infrastructure to have a food-to-table program, including craft goat cheeses. The Ranch initially wanted Slow Goat Farm to supply them milk, but Slow Goat could not legally sell them milk, so the conversation turned to cheese and creamery production. Brush Creek wanted to start such a program and since Lindsey and Ben already had the business dialed in, it was a natural to have the couple start up the business inside Brush Creek. The timing was excellent as the couple helped finish the design of the creamery and cheese facilities then fell right into production. COVID lockdown slowed things temporarily but the license came through in 2021 for their new company, Medicine Bow Creamery at Brush Creek Ranch. Every business has startup pangs and Medicine Bow has had theirs

Selected Works

RootednessInteractive StoryMap

Wyoming, Let's GrowInteractive StoryMap

Thunder Feathers: Greater Sage Grouse Strut the PlainsArts & Sciences Educational Programs and Exhibition

Book: Cover PhotoCover Photo

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