Our Host Organization
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is a national nonprofit that champions small-scale, local and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities and protect natural resources. NCAT HQ has been an active member of the Butte community for many years, making its Resource Center available to the public and offering demonstrations of renewable energy and sustainable building technologies.
Why Serve In Montana?
Montanans pride ourselves on our agricultural heritage and strong rural communities, yet our contemporary rural food producers and low-income food consumers face a mutually-devastating disconnect. In 1950, 70 percent of the food Montanans ate was grown and processed in Montana. Today that number is 10 percent. Meanwhile, raw Montana-grown agricultural commodities ship to distant markets, providing little return for the state’s rural producers and communities. The result is that by 2007, seven of the nation’s ten poorest counties were in Montana. All were agricultural.
As once-thriving Montana agricultural communities struggle, food insecurity rises. Farmers leaving communities take with them the revenue needed to keep local businesses vibrant. Once these businesses (such as grocery stores) disappear, even those who might otherwise be able to afford food must add the costs of an hour or longer drive each way to access fresh fruits and vegetables, effectively putting good nutrition out of reach. This lack of access to healthy food leads to both food insecurity, and high rates of obesity and diet-related disease.