The story of AERO’s founding is deeply entwined with the story of the characters in these books. Get inspired by the modern frontrunners of organic agriculture in Montana.
Click on the book covers to visit Amazon Smile, then search the titles. When you purchase with Amazon Smile for AERO, Amazon will donate 0.5% of each purchase you make through Smile directly to AERO.
The story of the Lentil Underground begins on a 280-acre homestead rooted in America’s Great Plains: the Oien family farm. Forty years ago, corporate agribusiness told small farmers like the Oiens to “get big or get out.” But twenty-seven-year-old David Oien decided to take a stand, becoming the first in his conservative Montana county to plant a radically different crop: organic lentils. Unlike the chemically dependent grains American farmers had been told to grow, lentils make their own fertilizer and tolerate variable climate conditions, so their farmers aren’t beholden to industrial methods. Today, Oien leads an underground network of organic farmers who work with heirloom seeds and biologically diverse farm systems. Under the brand Timeless Natural Food, their unique business-cum-movement has grown into a million dollar enterprise that sells to Whole Foods, hundreds of independent natural foods stores, and a host of renowned restaurants.
From the heart of Big Sky Country comes this inspiring story of a handful of colorful pioneers who have successfully bucked the chemically-based food chain and the entrenched power of agribusiness’s one percent, by stubbornly banding together. Journalist and native Montanan Liz Carlisle weaves an eye-opening and richly reported narrative that will be welcomed by everyone concerned with the future of American agriculture and natural food in an increasingly uncertain world.
When Bob Quinn was a kid, a stranger at a county fair gave him a few kernels of an unusual grain. Little did he know, that grain would change his life. Years later, after finishing a PhD in plant biochemistry and returning to his family’s farm in Montana, Bob started experimenting with organic wheat. In the beginning, his concern wasn’t health or the environment; he just wanted to make a decent living and some chance encounters led him to organics.
But as demand for organics grew, so too did Bob’s experiments. He discovered that through time-tested practices like cover cropping and crop rotation, he could produce successful yields—without pesticides. Regenerative organic farming allowed him to grow fruits and vegetables in cold, dry Montana, providing a source of local produce to families in his hometown. He even started producing his own renewable energy. And he learned that the grain he first tasted at the fair was actually a type of ancient wheat, one that was proven to lower inflammation rather than worsening it, as modern wheat does.
Ultimately, Bob’s forays with organics turned into a multimillion dollar heirloom grain company, Kamut International. In Grain by Grain, Quinn and cowriter Liz Carlisle, author of Lentil Underground, show how his story can become the story of American agriculture. We don’t have to accept stagnating rural communities, degraded soil, or poor health. By following Bob’s example, we can grow a healthy future, grain by grain.