Information, Inspiration, and Ideas for a Sustainable Rural Future

Promoting the Entrepreneurial Community Spirit

Baby carrot business grows up

If rural life gives you tons of lemons, you get creative or you don't survive!

When a water shortage stunted his carrot crop in 1995, Paul Wipf, head gardener for the Riverview Hutterite Colony south of Chester, Montana, came up with an incredible solution to a six ton "too short" carrots problem. Eight years later, the only problem, said Wipf, is that his booming baby carrot business has outgrown the colony's labor force.

To solve the labor shortage and to expand the potential for baby carrots in Montana, Wipf has teamed up with economic developers to propose a large-scale carrot-processing cooperative in northcentral Montana. The plant would create more than 40 jobs and return processing profits to farmers instead of shipping the raw carrots out of state. Read more.

This is an excellent example of how creatively approaching a potential economic disaster can produce an innovative economic opportunity. By keeping up with trends in trade publications, Wipf had the germ of the idea already planted when necessity demanded a creative solution to a devastating problem.

This case also underscores the rising importance of networks and ties in rural places. The Hutterite Colony alone could not meet the expanding demand of the baby carrot market. However, by collaborating with Bear Paw Development Corporation, and local farmers outside the Colony, the baby carrot business can truly take off in north central Montana.

The future for rural places will demand, more and more, that rural citizens keep abreast of emerging trends which can affect their livelihoods and that they put aside past boundaries and biases to develop new opportunities together.