Expo 2019

AERO Expo 2019
SEEDING THE FUTURE: Cultivating Community Resilience
Montana State University Campus, Bozeman
October 25-27, 2019
KEYNOTE: Dr. Ricardo Salvador




Click here for the attendee packet with updated agenda!

In 1984, AERO’s Ag Task Force hosted Montana’s first major sustainable agriculture conference in Bozeman on the Montana State University campus. 35 years later, AERO is partnering with MSU and community members to host the 2019 Expo: “Seeding the Future.” To be held October 25-27, 2019 on MSU campus, this conference seeks to build from 45 years of visionary work by AERO and partners, and to empower new generations of students and entrepreneurs.

In 2019, agricultural endeavors have the largest impact on Montana economies, resources, landscapes, and energy use. AERO’s focus moving forward will be on community building for the purpose of nurturing and promoting robust and resilient regional food system development across the state. Since sustainable, robust regional food systems naturally include sustainable energy means throughout the system, resilient regional foods systems by definition include resource stewardship and renewable energy. This will be the focus of the 2019 Expo.

Join us to explore new perspectives and advance efforts to build sustainable, healthful, equitable food systems across our region. We are excited about our strong planning partnership with MSU faculty, staff and students, AERO members and the Open to Local Coalition of Bozeman.

NOTE: AERO is currently recruiting business partners to sponsor the 2019 EXPO.  We value Montana businesses that uphold our shared investment in sustainable practices, and as a collaborator in working towards a better future for our state. As a premiere sustainability event spanning an entire weekend, EXPO provides your business with the opportunity to receive high visibility among those who care deeply about the practices you employ to help protect human and natural resources. Hundreds of attendees and hundreds more AERO members engage with Expo as a way to identify and connect with businesses that share their values. Becoming an AERO Business Partner signifies a relationship with AERO that demonstrates a commitment on behalf of your business to support a sustainable future for Montana, and acknowledgement by AERO that your business plays a vital role in helping all of us achieve that future. AERO will work enthusiastically to highlight your work, and encourage our membership to patron your business.

If you have questions about becoming a business sponsor for EXPO, please email [email protected] To learn more about the details of sponsoring EXPO, follow this link: https://aeromt.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-Business-Partnership-Options-EXPO.pdf


Keynote Speaker: 

Dr. Ricardo Salvador

Director, Food & Environment Program: Union of Concerned Scientists

As the senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Dr. Ricardo Salvador works with citizens, scientists, economists, and politicians to transition our current food system into one that grows healthy foods while employing sustainable and socially equitable practices. Dr. Salvador is an internationally renowned agronomist with more than 20 years of experience working to build a healthier food system and we look forward to him bringing his expertise to Montana.

Conference Agenda: 


Tour Details:

On Friday, Expo 2019 will feature four tour options that showcase the amazing sustainability developments taking place in and around Bozeman. 

Registered attendees will receive an email with tour meeting place instructions and specific tour details. Attendees may check in as early as 8 AM on Friday.

The four tour options will be:

  1. Montana State University: Farm To Campus Tour – This tour will explore an institution’s success in diversifying its view of agriculture through a variety of local food lenses. MSU was founded in 1893 as the Agricultural College of the State of Montana, and today has become a campus with a vibrant and exciting local food economy. MSU’s Food to Campus program will provide background and set the stage for what will be showcased on the rest of the tour. Other presenters will include: Friends of Local Food, Towne’s Harvest Garden Student Farm, and MSU Culinary Services. Meet with your tour guide and group at MSU SUB (Strand Union Building), outside of Ballroom A at the Expo Registration & Check-in Table at 8:45 AM. This is a walking tour. Lunch will be sponsored by MontanaSARE. The tour will complete at 3 PM.


  1. Tour d’ System: Gallatin Valley Local Food System Tour – Growers are the heart, soul & substance of local food, but thriving local food economies require a network of tenacious entrepreneurs to thrive. After visiting one or two of Gallatin Valley’s most influential farms, we’ll stop by Root Cellar Foods, a key player in farm-to-market and farm-to-institution markets. Details in the works, but this tour will also offer insight into the key roles played by Quality Foods Distributing, the recently consolidated and expanded Community Food Co-op, and other local businesses and community partners. While touring each site, we’ll discuss the nitty gritty details and big-picture challenges faced by each “node” in this local regional food system. Transportation and lunch sponsored by Western SARE.  Meet at 8:30 AM at MSU SUB (Strand Union Building) outside of Ballroom A, at the Expo Registration & Check-in table. Vans, sponsored by a MontanaSARE grant will provide transportation to the tour sites. Lunch will be provided, sponsored by MontanaSARE. This packed tour aims to return to the MSU SUB by 4:30 PM.


  1. Food Equity in Action Tour – The emergency food system has made great progress in connecting folks in need directly with farms and increasing access to fresh and local foods. Come with us as we learn from the front runners who are working together to make healthy food available to all.  Meet your tour guide and group at the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, 602 Bond St. Bozeman, MT 59715, at 9 AM. Lunch is included in the cost of Expo registration. Attendees provide their own transportation for this tour. Carpooling is encouraged. Attendees may check in at the MSU SUB, Ballroom A, Expo Registraiton & Check-in Table as early as 8 AM on Friday. Printed tour details will be available there. An email of the tour schedule & locations will be emailed to registered attendees. Attendees may also check in for Expo after the tour. This tour is scheduled to complete at the Livingston Food Resource Center at 3 PM, when tour attendees can begin the trip back to Bozeman for evening events.


  1. Montana State University Energy & Sustainability Tour – This tour will focus on alternative energy, building plans, edible landscape, and include a tour of the tunnels at MSU. Meeting after lunch, the tour will run from 1-3:30pm. Meet your tour guide and group at the MSU SUB (Strand Union Building) Expo registration & check in tables outside Ballroom A at 1 PM. This is a walking tour which travels through the MSU tunnels. Wear closed-toed shoes and dress for the weather. Come early to check in and take a look at the Harvest Market!

Friday Evening: 

Seeding the Future: Youth, Wisdom & Food
PROGRAM: 7:30 Montana-inspired dessert buffet and cash bar.

This event is open to the public for $10 registration fee. If registering for the full Expo, this event is already included in your fee.

Friday Night Event

Short Pecha Kucha-style talks from keynote speaker Dr. Ricardo Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists, our own Jenn Battles & Robin Kelson, and a range of powerful speakers who approach the reality of food – and the complexity of food systems – from entirely different perspectives.

This year we are experimenting with taking a break from the pie or cake auction and honoring the lead taken by the local Bozeman team to prepare a wonderful Friday night event with Montana-inspired desserts prepared by MSU Culinary Services and a cash bar after the Friday night potluck. Seeding the Future: Youth, Wisdom & Food is included in Expo registration and open to the public for a $10 registration.


  • Zach Brown, One Montana: “Gratitude: You Can’t Change Systems (or Minds) Without First Saying ‘Thank You’
  • Jenn Battles & Robin Kelson, AERO: title to be announced
  • Vanessa Williamson, Farmented: “Ugly Vegetable Certified
  • Liz Carlisle, author Lentil Underground & co-author Grain by Grain: “Supporting the Next Generation of Ecological Farmers
  • Jacy Rothschiller and her son Zachary, Gallatin Valley Botanical at Rocky Creek Farm: “A View of the Farm from a Farmer and Her Son”
  • Danielle Antelope, FAST Blackfeet & MSU Sustainable Food & BioEnergy Systems: title to be announced
  • Dr. Ricardo Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists: title to be announced


  • Jeff Batton, HomeStake Venture Partners: Venture vs Collaborative Capital: How & Why Local Ownership Can (and should!) be Accomplished


7:30-8:30 – Breakfast

8:30 AM – Keynote speaker – Dr. Ricardo Salvador


COMMUNICATING VALUES in community-based food systems: If you eat you’re in Moving the needle: expanding Montanans’ understanding, perspective and motivation driving community-based food systems. Sessions include a review of current marketing campaigns and their gaps, a model for prioritizing & sharing values from Indian Country, and ending with a capstone session on how to cultivate a values-based food systems in your community.

FOOD FOR ALL: The role of food equity in resilient systems This track unpacks the functionality of current food equity efforts in communities around the state. Session 1: Why it matters, what are the barriers and gaps, and where, how and why are we succeeding? Session 2: How communities are making connections between human health and food, and the positive impact on community food systems.

FOOD SYSTEM DYNAMICS: What makes a functional system? This track dives into the state of community-based food systems in Montana, identifying successes & gaps over all; diving into producer and distribution vulnerabilities; and exploring entrepreneurship opportunities with model innovators cultivating resilience through processing & recovery businesses.

Resilience in a CHANGING CLIMATE: Energy & regenerative agriculture Sustainable systems are driven by locally accessible renewable inputs. This track explores how Montanans are cultivating renewable inputs through regenerative ag and on-farm renewable energy and are developing resiliency policies in your community.


10:30 AM — Noon

    • Marketing the Message: Is ‘Buy Local” Working?
        1. Susan Joy, Department of Commerce, Made in Montana & Grown in Montana, Taste Our Place labels
        2. Becca Kurnick, Sustainability Director, Montana Ale Works will share her perspectives on why GV folks choose local, perspective on the convergence of factors needed for these type of campaigns to work.
        3. Zach Brown, One Montana, Reach beyond the bubble. How we can talk to people about local food systems? How words & assumptions undermine marketing campaign’s long-term impact
        4. Brooke Bohannon, Wicked Good Produce & Distribution on the effectiveness and pursuit of values-based (instead of location-based) marketing.
    • Access & Affordability for All
        1. Aubree Roth, Montana Team Nutrition, Farm to School is the equalizer that aims to provide fresh, local food to all Montana children in school meals.
        2. Dylan Fishman & Emma Burke, Townes’ Harvest Garden, MSU Student farm. How does TH distribute fresh affordable local food to limited access areas? Stories from over the years & lessons learned from market managers past and present: student shares, mobile market @ senior low-income housing.

How are community and tribal organizations supporting community food security?

        1. Kati Burton, MS, RDN, Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, Community Health Dietitian. An overview of innovations in federal programs (SNAP, WIC, FDPIR, Senior Commodity, THIP), and research projects with the MSU Food & Health Lab to improve food quality for all.
        2. Megkian Doyle, EdD, Crow Reservation Raising Places in Lodge Grass.
        3. Brenna Sellars, Outreach Coordinator, FarmHandsNourish in the Flathead Valley.
        4. Scott Brant, Food Access and Sustainability Team (FAST) on the Blackfeet Nation in Browning.
  • Community-based Food Systems
        • Panelists will share what is happening across the state to develop community-based food systems (aka: local food systems, regional food economies, cross-sector food systems collaboration, etc.) Hear what AERO has been up to with support from Western Sustainability and Research Education funding, working with partners in the Flathead, Helena, & Hi-Line. Regional leaders from Community Food & Agriculture Coalition (Missoula & western Montana), Open & Local Coalition (greater Gallatin area), and Yellowstone Valley Food Hub (greater Billings area) will share about the momentum in their regions. Session attendees will participate in discussion about the role for AERO in community-based food systems development moving forward.
  • Farm Resiliency
        • Assessing Your Farm’s Resilience & examples assessments from Bruce Maxwell, Institute on Ecosystems; Tommy Bass on Resilience Assessment including local food system resilience, Hannah Duff on using a modified Altieri method, Paul Hegedys on large-scale conventional farm, Sasha Loewen on small-scale farm resilience, and thoughts about resilience assessment from Julia Haggerty, Liz Carlisle and Ricardo Salvador.

1:30 — 3:00 PM

  • Community-Driven Food Sovereignty: Learning from the Successes in Indian Country (Working Title)
        • Loren BirdRattler, Program Manager, Blackfeet Tribe’s Agriculture Resource Management Plan (ARMP) & Will Seeley, Food Policy Planner, share the Blackfeet ARMP, a roadmap to food sovereignty for Blackfeet country. The plan is based on Blackfeet values, Blackfeet ways of knowing, being and planning. From 4-H Clubs to support the next generation of farmers & ranchers, to bison processing, and local food access, this plan is a holistic approach to conservation addressing biodiversity, clean water, commercial food production, and community leadership. AERO members, supporters and Expo attendees will hear from Loren & Will how Blackfeet values support a holistic vision of a community-based food system that strengthens food sovereignty, climate adaptation, and local food economy.
  • Food=Health
        • What are the best connections between food & health today? What connections can health providers, public health, and farmers draw between local/values-based food systems & health? How are we working to ensure that all Montanans have access to a healthy diet? Facilitator, Mary Stein, Program Leader for MSU Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems program will draw on panelists to help answer these questions. Panelists include: Co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Carmen Byker Shanks (MSU Food & Health Lab) who investigates food quality and access in rural Montana food emergency food sources such as pantries with the UnProcessed Pantry Project (UP^3), a student team: medical (WWAMI, UW School of Medicine: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho program) and dietetic student (Montana Dietetic Internship) who teach ‘culinary medicine’, MSU student, Angela Bear Claw, will share a perspective on food as medicine, and farmer Bob Quinn and Grain by Grain:A Quest to Revive Ancient Wheat, Rural Jobs, and Healthy Food co-author from Big Sandy, MT.
  • Deep-Dive: The Middle of the Value Chain: Processing, Aggregation and Distribution in Montana
        • What work has been done to build regional capacity for processing, aggregation and distribution for Montana farmers? Why have these approaches been taken? What’s working? What are the gaps? How can we move forward to fill the gaps? Facilitator, Michael McCormick, of the Livingston Food Resource Center, will drawn on panelists to help answer these questions. Panelists include: Casey Campbell, Operations Manager Western Montana Growers’ Coop (WMGC); Kaly Hess, Co-Owner Harlequin Produce & WMGC Board Member; Randy Lindberg, Co-Founder of Quality Foods Distributing; Tommy Bass, PhD candidate and Animal and Range Sciences Extension Agent, studying time-space capacity questions in Montana’s meat processing and distribution systems, and Brittany Sechler, Manager Yellowstone Valley Food Hub.
  • Meeting the Need: Farmer Sustainability
        • Farming in the US is a struggle. What’s the viability of farming with a triple bottom line? Farmers from Fresh Roots Farm (Karl Sutton, Polson, MT) and Lifeline Produce (Luci Brieger & Steve Elliot, Victor, MT) and a rancher will speak to real challenges & successes related to the human, social, and economic aspects of farming: planning for retirement, maintaining relationships, how do you do it?! Western Sustainable Agriculture, Research and Education, Regional Coordinator Fabian Menalled, will share how farmer lead research funds are spent to solve the social and economic issues that farmers face.
  • Energy & Carbon On Farm
        • Hear from farmers and ranchers, “How are you reducing carbon demand on the farm?” Facilitator, BOD Co-Chair Mark Jeudeman, will draw on panelists to discuss soil carbon sequestration, reducing energy demand on the farm with renewables and increased efficiency, and adaptive farming techniques to improve farm and ranch resiliency. Panelists include: AERO members Wilbur Wood and John Brown on carbon farming, Dr. Tony Hartshorn MSU soil scientist, and Dave Ryan energy efficiency consultant. Watch for more to come!

3:00 — 5:00 PM

  • Moving Forward: Connecting Key Elements for a Values-based Food System in Your Community
        • Drawing from the day’s earlier sessions, consider, “How do we define a community based food system in Montana?” Stakeholders from all sectors of the food system will be represented in a conversation led by AERO Board Co-Chair, Robin Kelson, & Fundraising Chair, Janet Hess-Herbert. Discussion will begin with an overview of the history of community-based food systems work in Montana. Then together the room will address, “Where are the opportunities to move community-based food systems forward?” Participants in this session will help to determine AERO’s way forward in supporting community-based food system development.
  • Moving Forward: Food System Innovation for Resilient Communities
        • Throughout this track, we’ve heard from community-based food system builders & producers. This session explores innovative opportunities in processing & recovery to enhance local food systems. Facilitator, Trevor Huffmaster, MSU Blackstone Launchpad will draw on panelists to discuss why locally accessible, renewable inputs make a community food system more resilient. Panelists include: Vanessa Williamson & Vanessa Walsten Co-owners of Farmented (Bozeman, MT), Dr. Graham Austin, MSU Farm to Market DESL Lab; Ryan, Co-owner Happy Trash Can curbside compost (Bozeman, MT), Alissa LaChance, Dirt Rich compost (Whitefish, MT).
  • Moving Foward: Using Climate Actions Plans as Policy Instruments to Support Community Resiliency
        • Steve Thompson, National Center for Appropriate Technologies, Executive Director and Paul LaChapelle, MSU Extension Community Development Specialist will draw on panelists and the audience to answer:
            1. How can we include values-based food systems in climate action plans at the community level?
            2. What are the statewide approaches being suggested at the Governor’s Climate Solutions Council?
            3. What are other community-level solutions that audience members can use to advance community-based food systems at home?


Happy Hour, Student Poster Session, Silent Auction, Dinner & Live Music


7:30-9:30 – Breakfast

8:00-8:30 AM AERO Annual Meeting including BOD voting

8:30– 9:00 AM Closing Discussion with Co-EDs Jenn Battles & Lindsay Ganong



  • Design sprint activity: MT-made food product Mary Stein & Trevor Huffmaster with students Emma & Clancy
  • Plan Your Own Edible Backyard Kareen Erbe, Broken Ground Permaculture
  • Statewide Food Plan: Are we ready? Discussion AERO BOD member


  • Food Safety & Licensing for MT-made food products David Wise
  • WSARE grant writing workshop Fabian Menalled
  • Resilient Communities Activites Mark Juedeman


  • Growing & Storing Produce in a Changing Climate: Round table discussion Townes’ Harvest Garden students
  • Semi-subterranean Greenhouse:Discussion and Examples of Season Enhancement John Brown
  • DIY Solar
  • Farm to Institution share session

Continued discussion about the way forward for AERO members and Montana communities seeking to build strong community-based food systems.

***Please note: We record all Expo sessions as a service to our membership and for archiving purposes.

*We have not blocked rooms at any specific hotel. Please check out hotels and vacation rentals near campus.