Grow & Tell: From Pasture to Plate

Aug 24, 2023 | Grow & Tell - Stories, Local Food Guide

Ivan & Chia Thrane Awarded Jane Kile Memorial Scholarship In late February, Red Lodge, MT was under two feet of...

Ivan & Chia Thrane Awarded Jane Kile Memorial Scholarship

In late February, Red Lodge, MT was under two feet of snow and experiencing yet another wave of sub-zero temperatures. Chia and Ivan Thrane, the owners of Healthy Meadows, a family ranch in the hills above town, were busy ensuring their 200 breeding goats were staying warm and getting enough hay. “It feels somewhat like the Vikings when they settled in Greenland,” joked Ivan, warming up in front of a wood stove.

The Thranes manage a herd of Montana-hardy meat and milk goats they use for targeted grazing and weed management. As approved grazing contractors in Carbon County, Chia, Ivan, and their herd of goats offer weed management services for local landowners, practicing rotational grazing with the goal of having a positive impact on the land. Their goats not only help keep invasives in check without using herbicides, but they also help fertilize pastures, promoting microorganisms that contribute to improved soil health.

Healthy Meadows was the 2022 recipient of AERO’s Jane Kile Memorial Scholarship. Supported by an endowment made in honor of early AERO member Jane Kile, a conservationist and pioneer in Montana’s organic and community-supported agriculture movements, the scholarship awards funding for projects aimed at furthering sustainability efforts and resiliency in the state. The Thranes used the $600 award to purchase a meat grinder for their expanding butchering facility, which they use for processing their own meat and offering workshops on holistic butchering.

Anthony Pavkovich | Healthy Meadows | Red Lodge

“During a time of uncertain and unreliable meat processing facilities in our region and our country, we see the ability to process our own meat as a source of resiliency for not just ourselves,” says Chia. “Part of our vision is to have this space be a resource for neighbors and community members.”

Ivan and Chia host an annual two-day Holistic Goat Butchering Workshop, offering participants a chance to reclaim the tradition of home butchery. Through the course, participants learn best practices for processing small ruminants with minimal waste and spend time with the herd, exploring the animal in its context as a part of a healthy ecosystem. After processing the meat, the class prepares a meal together using in-season ingredients.

“Holistic butchering fills a need in our region to educate about regenerative agriculture, to empower people with the knowledge and skills involved in harvesting and butchering, and we hope it can also be part of growing a local culture that celebrates the caretaking of a place and eating well,” explains Chia.

The Thranes envision building a larger facility and growing their capacity to host more workshops. Knowledge-sharing and learning are core values of their business. Ivan and Chia invite visitors to deepen their connection with nature by participating in place-based workshops, children’s summer camps, and guided hikes. Through these offerings, and by engaging their neighbors in their weed management practices, Ivan and Chia are excited about fostering ‘ecological literacy’ in their community and sharing traditional agrarian skills that support reciprocal relationships between people, animals, and landscapes.

“Often [in the West] our land use doesn’t reflect the practices to optimize land health,” says Chia. “We love that our work promotes awareness in our community of natural land management, as well as encouragement to connect and engage with wildlife, livestock, and the natural world.”

Learn more about Healthy Meadows at

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