by Lori Currie
It is estimated that meals in the U.S. travel about 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate, a long-distance, large-scale operation that consumes large quantities of fossil fuels. The farm-to-table movement arose years ago as a rallying cry to consumers to reject these industrial food systems in support of their communities. To put it simply, to buy local.
“If we want to make sure that there’s local food, we have to start a movement,” says Karoline Rose Bohannan, co-owner of The Rancher’s Daughter, located at 274 Sixth Avenue W N, in Kalispell, Montana. Rose Bohannan, along with her partner-in-crime, Grayson Cottrell, joined forces in 2022 to launch The Rancher’s Daughter, their farm-to-table retail store, working with local agriculture producers to bring safe, diverse, and sustainable products to the Flathead Valley. They work directly with consignors, and everything at The Rancher’s Daughter is proudly Montana-made: fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, kombucha, cookies, goat cheese, huckleberry popsicles, salsa, and gifts like chocolate, lavender, paper goods, and jewelry.
“If we want to make sure that there’s local food, we have to start a movement.”
-Karoline Rose Bohannan, Co-Owner, The Rancher’s Daughter
But The Rancher’s Daughter is mostly known for its high-quality and mouth-watering meat selection. From grass-finished to grain-finished beef, pork, chicken, and lamb, and holiday specials like turkey and prime rib, the store is the go-to place to purchase local meat. Regular customers sing their praises, with one shopper saying, “Their meat is a 10 in quality, and I have tasted real quality. They have an awesome product; I recommend them to everyone. You can be the greatest chef in the world, but without quality meat, you will never be great.”
For Rose Bohannan and Cottrell, production agriculture runs deep in their blood. Both women have an animal science degree. Rose Bohannan is a third-generation rancher and grew up on a ranch outside of Townsend; the grain-finished beef in The Rancher’s Daughter is sourced from her family’s operation. In addition to running the store, Rose Bohannan owns a full-time agriculture marketing company, KRose Company, also based in Townsend. Cottrell met Rose Bohannan when she started working for KRose Company as the Head of Operations. It didn’t take long for the two women to realize they had a shared mission.
“I have always had a desire to increase consumption of local food and connect the ranchers with the consumer,” says Rose Bohannan. And Cottrell, who had spent two years delivering beef, learned first-hand the community’s desire for a store like The Rancher’s Daughter. “I feel we were called to establish a location where relationships between producers and consumers can grow,” she says.
For the duo, the farm-to-table movement is important for two reasons. “From the producer’s perspective, it’s becoming more difficult to make a living as a family ranch or farm,” says Cottrell. “We believe in giving as much profit back to the producer as possible, which is why we buy direct and give them the extra 15 percent that would normally go to the distributor. That margin can make or break a family operation.”
When you last entered your home, did you think it needed refreshing beyond a quick coat of paint, a rearranging of furniture, or a few new plants to give it a proper update? Of course, you can easily upgrade your living room with new textiles like throw pillows or rugs, or freshen up your bedroom look with new linens or draperies, or take on a decluttering and reorganizing of your entire home that would make Maria Kondo blush. Yet those boosts to a space often only last several months before you’re contemplating what’s next. When you want to change the entire energy of a room to reflect your personality and style, look at your walls.
“Their meat is a 10 in quality, and I have tasted real quality. They have an awesome product; I recommend them to everyone. You can be the greatest chef in the world, but without quality meat, you will never be great.”
-The Rancher’s Daughter Shopper
“For the consumer, the market is very volatile right now. While all food in the grocery stores is safe, it’s not always available. By creating a farm-to-table relationship, we can get food from local ranchers directly to consumers in the area with no supply chain issues.”
-Grayson Cottrel, Co-Owner, The Rancher’s Daughter
“For the consumer, the market is very volatile right now,” continues Cottrell. “While all food in the grocery stores is safe, it’s not always available. By creating a farm-to-table relationship, we can get food from local ranchers directly to consumers in the area with no supply chain issues.”
Rose Bohannan and Cottrell also know that it’s important to foster a place for conversations about the product, how it was produced, and how to use it, which isn’t an option in large grocery stores. This is facilitated by farmers markets in the summer, but they wanted to create a permanent, year-round location for producers and local consumers to interact as well.
It’s these conversations around building and supporting regional food systems that excite them most. Rose Bohannan and Cottrell hope people start to think differently about agriculture and know that they can come to them with questions. “When you come to our store, we hope that you will ask us about our partners who are providing you with safe and quality products. We will be able to tell you their stories and backgrounds; you can get a sense of who they are and why they are choosing to carry products at The Rancher’s Daughter,” says Rose Bohannan.
Fans of The Rancher’s Daughter can get products mailed directly to them when they subscribe to the Ranch Club. This VIP option allows members to choose their preferences, and each month, they are sent a custom box filled with meat, pantry items, and local goodies. “It’s a great way to get store items at a discounted price, try new foods and recipes, and we deliver!” says Rose. Their top seller is definitely beef, with New York and ribeye steaks being extremely popular.
In the next year, Rose Bohannan and Cottrell hope to launch their online store so they can start shipping their specialty products. This will allow customers to send a bit of Montana to family and friends across the country. They also have several events planned this summer such as a tasting night, food trucks, and long-table, family-style dinners. Longer-term plans include opening a deli counter or packaging ready-to-go meals to serve the food they have available in the store.
But the ethos of The Rancher’s Daughter can be found at the source of all these sustainable products. When customers walk through the door, they are not just buying a package of ground beef or a carton of fresh eggs. They’re supporting local farmers and ranchers who pride themselves on raising nutrient-rich, healthy food. “We want to support rural business because, if there’s no rural business, the next generation of farmers and ranchers don’t come back,” says Rose Bohannan. With The Rancher’s Daughter behind them, these Montana farmers and ranchers have a like-minded ally in the farm-to-table revolution.