AERO’s Specialty Crops Conference Covers a Range of Farmers’ Issues

Conference participants talk about issues of scale in specialty crop production, the pros and cons of mechanization, and the perennial challenge of finding farm labor.

Last month, farmers and other stakeholders from across Montana braved winter weather to participate in AERO’s Specialty Crops Conference in Great Falls.  Speaker Judith Redmond shared insights gleaned over the years through the story of Full Belly Farm in California, and Helen Atthowe offered perspectives on scaling up fruit and vegetable production to feed more Montanans. Breakout sessions covered a range of current issues, such as entrepreneurs sharing lessons learned developing value-added food products, beginning farmers reflecting on their experiences accessing land, as well as sessions on state food safety regulations and challenges in the organic seed industry. Of course, conference participants also had a chance to dive into the specifics of soil management and season extending techniques, as well as issues of production scale and diversified marketing. Thank you to those who participated in the Specialty Crops Conference, as this event provided especially pointed direction for the future of AERO’s Sustainable Food & Agriculture Program. We will be following up on some of the ideas proposed at the conference through a series of Ag Task Force Meetings, look for one near your community and come help AERO better serve the needs of Montana’s sustainable farmers and ranchers.



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