2020 brought into sharp focus and relief the gaps and barriers to Montana’s ability to feed its citizens sustainably. That is the gift of a disruptive event: data. Throughout 2020 and 2021 we watched AERO’s community of sustainability enthusiasts respond to the disruption’s impact by leaning in to solutions across all sectors: food, energy, housing, and health.
We’ve chosen to focus on sustainable food systems for AERO’s Expo this year because, without food, we really can’t do all the rest. And sustainable means sustainable across the board—growing practices, energy choices, distribution, sale, recovery means and access. Truly sustainable systems are resilient. They are able to adapt and respond to unexpected events that disrupt the status quo. For food systems, it is people who evaluate the data and make new choices designed to adapt and respond. People working together, invested in sustainable and resilient systems tend to get the best long-term results. Hence our theme this year—Community: the Heart of Resilient Food Systems. We look forward to gathering with you in November.
Each day has been assigned a topic area core to AERO’s mission. Individual sessions on each of the daily topics range from 60-90 minutes, with three sessions per day.
WED, Nov 10: Enhancing Small Farm Success
THURS, Nov 11: Ensuring Food for All Montanans
FRI, Nov 12: Community Focused Solutions
SAT, Nov 13: Food Systems & Sustainability
SUN, Nov 14: Resilient Communities & Regenerative Landscapes
Back by popular demand! These 45-minute community conversations with invited guests are designed to promote opportunities for visiting, connection, and information sharing.
Grab your favorite evening beverage, put your feet up, and join the conversation.
The event is FREE
There’s no registration for Expo 2021. Instead, just register for the sessions you want to attend, and you’ll get a Zoom link to the event via email.
We’ll be using the Zoom platform. If you are new to Zoom and want support on navigating its features, we’re offering a practice session Monday Nov 8 & Tuesday Nov 9 at 9-9:30am. Register to join these sessions here:
Nov 08: 9-9:30a | REGISTER HERE
Nov 09: 9-9:30a | REGISTER HERE
You can also check out this easy guide to Zoom | ZOOM GUIDE
We’re looking for scribes for the Topic Sessions. Fill out this short form
to volunteer or take notes.
We feel extremely grateful to be able to offer this event for free, allowing it to be accessible to a wider audience.
If you are able, we welcome financial contributions of any size to help defray event costs. You can also make the donation in the name of your business and we’ll add your logo to our digital Expo event promotions.
9-10:30am: New Markets Through Collaboration | REGISTER HERE
Panel discussion on new efforts around the state designed to build local markets for Montana’s food and value-added producers.
1-2pm: On Farm Food Safety Planning and Practices for Resilient Businesses | REGISTER HERE
Jan Tusick, Director of the Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center, presents opportunities and best practices for success.
3-4:30pm: Decoding the MT Food Freedom Act: An Opportunity for Producers | REGISTER HERE
Farm Commons, the leading national education resource for farmers and ranchers on key legal vulnerabilities, reviews the risks and opportunities that the recently passed “Food Freedom Act” offers Montana producers, food manufacturers, cottage food operators and farmers’ market managers. This is Part 2 of a 2-part workshop series on food product liability. Part 1 (Nov 3, 3-4pm), reviews the general legal concepts of food liability.
5:30-6:15pm: Virtual Happy Hour—Urban/Suburban Agriculture | REGISTER HERE
Join guests Sam Mascari (Montana Roots) and Marisela Chavez for a conversation on high density/integrated growing operations and urban bee keeping.
9-10:30am: Grow Montana – 2021 in Review and Vision for the Future (Part 1) | REGISTER HERE
Part 1 of a two-part session. Join Grow MT coalition members in a review of 2021 and future focus for the coalition and Montana.
1-2:30pm: Grow Montana – 2021 in Review and Vision for the Future (Part 2) | REGISTER HERE
Part 2 of a two-part session. Join Grow MT coalition members in a review of 2021 and future focus for the coalition and Montana.
3-4:30pm: Building Resilient Energy Systems in Rural Communities Today – what’s working, what’s not | REGISTER HERE
Panel discussion on making sustainable energy work in Montana today.
5:30-6:15pm: Virtual Happy Hour—Adventures in Soil Building | REGISTER HERE
Join a conversation with Steve Charter, long-time AERO member sharing his adventures in soil building in Eastern MT.
9-10:30am: Stories and Next Steps from AERO’s MT Food Economy Initiative | REGISTER HERE
AERO’s MFEI program sponsored close to 20 community-led projects designed to build on-farm resiliency and cross-sector engagement across community food systems. Come hear what we learned and where MFEI is headed next.
1-2:30pm: Creative Cooperatives Building Food Security | REGISTER HERE
Panel discussion of cooperative models aimed at strengthening community food access.
3-4:30pm: Making Food Recovery Work | REGISTER HERE
Panel discussion on collaborative models around the state aimed at making food recovery work in urban and rural settings.
5:30-6:15pm: Virtual Happy Hour—Thinking Outside the Box | REGISTER HERE
Join AERO members sharing examples of Montanans thinking outside the box to solve food system blocks.
9-10:30am: KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Ken Meter— “Strengthening Community Food Webs” | REGISTER HERE
Ken Meter, author of “Building Community Food Webs” and one of the most experienced food system analysts in the United States, has been a long-time participant in Montana’s community food system movement. He offers a unique perspective on the state of community food systems today and opportunities moving forward.
11am-12:30pm: MT Drought & Climate Project—Vision and Findings | REGISTER HERE
Kyle Bocinsky of University of MT’s Climate Office shares about the Montana Climate and Drought Project and producer resources.
3-4:30pm: Abundant Montana—Montana’s Megaphone for Local Food | REGISTER HERE
The Abundant Montana directory is expanding its platform to become a dynamic marketing and media hub for local food with regional resources around the state. Come learn about our new services for educating consumers and helping food and farming enterprises succeed.
5:30-6:15pm: Virtual Happy Hour—Seeding the Next Generation of Legacy Enterprises | REGISTER HERE
Join a conversation with Montana legacy farming and food business founders.
9-10:30am: Water Retaining Landscapes | REGISTER HERE
Zach Weiss shares designs for building water retaining landscapes using synergies of natural elements
11am-12:30pm: Community Sustained Businesses—Models for Continuity | REGISTER HERE
Panel discussion on models for supporting business continuity across generations
1-2:30pm: AERO ANNUAL MEETING | REGISTER HERE
Everyone is welcome.
3-4:30pm: Growing Deeper Roots—Rebuilding MT Soils Through Community Initiatives | REGISTER HERE
Updates on MT’s first Savory demonstration ranch in Chico, NCAT’s Water for Soil Project, the MT Soil Outreach Project, and an envisioned Soil Corps are featured.