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“If you Build It, They Will Come” A Candid Chat on Community Building with Jessica Garza



Photo Credit to Maria Cazares

In a candid exchange on the Trailblazher podcast, Jessica Garza, a rural entrepreneur and owner of Moose Valley Ranch, unveils the heart and hustle behind creating vibrant rural communities through entrepreneurship. With a background as a law enforcement officer and growing up on her family’s ranch, Jessica’s journey to building community is marked by resilience, innovation, and a steadfast commitment to bringing value to rural living.

The Essence of Community in Rural Entrepreneurship

In rural landscapes, where vast distances and a sparse population can impede business growth and personal connections, community becomes a lifeline. Jessica Garza understands this deeply, as evident by her ventures at Moose Valley Ranch. 

She emphasizes that community is “not convenient, but it’s necessary.” 

This sentiment resonates with rural entrepreneurs who often juggle multiple roles and responsibilities while facing unique geographic and economic barriers. Garza boldly took on the challenge of transforming her family’s traditional ranch into a multifaceted business by leveraging the principles of community-building, resilience, and resourcefulness.

Community in rural settings acts as an incubator for innovation and entrepreneurship. Garza shows that it’s possible to create thriving businesses and events that draw people from far and wide, defying the presumption of limited opportunities in remote areas. From hosting weddings to organizing large western-style markets, she demonstrates that rural entrepreneurs can carve out their niche and cultivate a loyal customer base. Even more so, Garza’s insistence on pushing boundaries and questioning traditional norms proves that rural women entrepreneurs can rewrite the narrative in their own communities.

The Unconventional Path to Building a Thriving Community

The shift from a private, closed-off ranch to a communal space bustling with events, shopping, and glamping, showcases how powerful building a community can really be. The foundation of what Jessica was able to create at Moose Valley Ranch started with opening up the ranch to local photographers who wanted a different backdrop for their photo sessions. This quickly led to hosting weddings at the ranch, then to Jessica’s first community event, Gather. 

Gather was a unique event for local, female entrepreneurs to come together, network, and learn more about female-owned businesses in the area. Through this event, Jessica learned there was a huge desire for a market style event where locals could shop from nearby vendors, so Market in the Mountains was born. 

Photo Credit to Maria Cazares

Market in the Mountains stemmed from community demand and is testimony to what rural innovation can achieve. Despite skepticism from her father and others, her perseverance and vision led to an event that spurred not just local interest but impressive financial results, cementing the market as a keystone event in the region.

This diversification is not just about business expansion; it entails developing a symbiotic relationship between the business and the community, meaning that as the business prospers, so does the community. 

Interweaving Online Engagement and Real-life Connections

Garza’s narrative underscores the dual importance of online engagement alongside physical presence in community building. While platforms like Instagram have played a vital role in her business growth, allowing her to connect with like-minded individuals and market her events, she recognizes the indispensability of real-life connections. Garza recounts the palpable strength of her community when faced with challenges, whether it’s rallying to plant a garden for a bereaved member of the community or gathering volunteers for event logistics.

Her conscious choice to focus on her local community shines a light on the reality that the most significant call to action often lies within one’s immediate geographic scope. The online world provides tools for outreach and networking, but the tangible impact comes from showing up and being physically present for one another. This amplifies the invaluable role that face-to-face interactions play in enhancing the resilience of rural businesses and communities.

Jessica Garza’s tale is a quintessential example of rural vigor, where community stands as both the foundation and the fuel for personal and collective growth. Her entrepreneurial spirit, married with her commitment to community engagement, provides a blueprint for others in similar circumstances. By bridging the dichotomy between the physical and digital realms of community building, Garza’s story is a call to nurture the roots where one stands, be it in the sprawling fields of a ranch or the virtual fields of social media.

Make sure to check out the full episode with Jessica Garza below and if you liked this conversation, make sure to snag a copy of the 2024 Spring Issue of Trailblazher Magazine to see Jessica’s full article feature.

We hope you liked today’s episode and if you did, we’d love it if you left us a review on your favorite listening platform! 

Connect with Jessica Garza & Moose Valley Ranch Online

February 22, 2024

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