Speaker Info, Panelists, & Farm Tours!

The 2015 AERO Expo and Annual Meeting will include…


This Year’s Tours [are going to be GREAT!]

Directions will be emailed to those who have signed up for tours the week before the Expo. However, please feel free to contact Communications Director Corrie Williamson at [email protected] in advance for directions and more details!

Prairie Heritage Farm – with the Cowgills in Power, Montana

Tour will meet at 11 am

Info: Prairie Heritage Farm is a certified organic, diversified farm near Great Falls, Montana. They grow fresh vegetables, vegetable seed, and ancient and heritage grains (including Emmer and Einkorn). The farm is owned and operated by Jacob and Courtney Cowgill, two central Montanans returning to their roots. They believe that family farms nourish not only the people who work them, but the people they feed and communities in which they live. They believe organic agriculture, diversification and a robust local food system are good for the health of the farm, customers, community, and the environment.

The tour will likely consist of visiting the high tunnels and low tunnels, and discussing our season extension and winter growing experiments. We’ll talk about our heritage and ancient grain projects, and our vegetable seed work with the Triple Divide Organic Seed Cooperative. As most of the veggies will have been harvested from the fields, there may not be much to see, but we’ll still walk the vegetable fields to look at what’s remaining and talk about our growing systems and the national development in small-scale vegetable farming techniques and technologies.

Timeless Foods & The Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project – with David Oien, in Ulm, Montana

Tour will meet at 11 am

Created in 1987 by four organic farmers to market product from their own farms, Timeless Seeds now contracts and sources organic pulses and grains from organic farmers throughout Montana and the region. This certified organic facility cleans, processes, and packages pulses and grains for distribution throughout the United States and for export. The hallmark of Timeless Seeds has been the introduction of unique and highly  nutritious specialty grains like our Black Beluga® Lentils, Purple Prairie™ Barley, and Black Kabuli™ Chickpeas. Timeless Seeds is proud to provide its customers with GMO-free and certified organic products and strives to follow the three pillars of sustainability: people, planet, and profits.

Eighth Wonder, Inc. and The Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project are working directly with farmers to build a sustainable economic enterprise that is rooted in the indigenous knowledge of the people. The rare heirloom rice of the Cordillera has been hand-cultivated in the high-elevation terraces of the Philippines for generations. Within the indigenous cultures, the rice is considered a precious gift from their gods; a gift that nourishes both body and spirit. The sale of Eighth Wonder® Heirloom Rice supports cultural integrity, sustainable agriculture, the preservation of globally significant high-elevation terraces, and ensures that heritage foods remain in production.

Gardens from Garbage – with Mike Dalton in Great Falls, Montana

Tour will meet at 11 am at the Westside Orchard Garden, 400 16th Street SW, 59404 Great Falls

Gardens from Garbage grew out of a recognized need for sustainability – for the vitality of our environment and our communities. Our current food system relies heavily on transporting food grown in distant environments, which results in fuel consumption and reliance on an unsustainable system. Instead, we strive to learn and teach others how to grow food by nourishing what we have in our community and connecting with others who are doing the same.

Tour will explore the Westside Orchard Garden, a 2.2 acre plot where Gardens from Garbage grows, model and employs a variety of gardening methods, teaching classes for adults, mentoring kids raising their own vegetables, experimenting with new and innovative methods for growing, and hosting seminars for groups. They produce their own garden soil with bokashi composting and develop lasagna-composted gardening beds.

Kamut Organic – with Bob Quinn in Big Sandy, Montana

Tour will begin at 10 am

The tour will explore the Quinn Ranch’s experimental orchard & vegetable garden, viewing the nine-year rotation demonstration, and the vegetable oil threshing facilities, where oil from Montana Horizons Organic Snackfood production is cleaned up and repurposed for use in the farm’s tractors.

The tour will then move on to Big Sandy for a bowl of soup at the deli and a tour of the newly opened Montana Horizons Organic Snacks processing facility. A family owned business, they are dedicated to producing nutritious and tasty organic snacks made from Kamut® brand ancient wheat. Today, Kracklin’ Kamut® is produced in the town’s previously operated log cabin bakery.

Keep in mind that this is the longest drive from Arrowpeak or Great Falls, and plan accordingly!

Straw Bale Houses – with Heather and Kevin Hadley, and Dan Ryan, in Great Falls, Montana

Tour will begin at 11 am

Hadley Straw Bale House Build: Transplants from Juneau, Alaska, Heather and Kevin moved to Montana to be close to Heather’s parents in their golden years. We have chosen to build a post-and-beam, straw bale infill home on the property Heather’s parents have called home for 20 years. We broke ground in July and are currently working on our foundation with our large stack of 400 organic straw bales on site, looming over us. We will talk about how we started with a much larger design, but having become enamored by the small building movement, have scaled down the size of our home to 690sf. As well, having lived in a travel trailer for over two years with a 70 lb. husky, and one more winter to go, we’ve learned that we can be very comfortable in a smaller space. We follow the straw bale construction philosophy of Andrew Morrison of Strawbale.com and will discuss that philosophy and construction details as learned from him.

6 miles down the road, Dan Ryan will offer a tour of his two straw bale houses, one complete and lived in, and one in progress, with foundation in place.

If you participate in both straw bale home tours, you will see how diverse straw bale construction can be – and it’s all good!



Keynote speakers Sarah Calhoun of Red Ants Pants

Photo courtesy of Red Ants Pants Music Festival

Photo courtesy of Red Ants Pants Music Festival & RedAntsPants.com

Sarah Calhoun is the founder of Red Ants Pants, functional and flattering workwear for women, in White Sulphur Springs, MT. Calhoun has been called a “revolutionary figure in rural business today” and a “powerhouse of inspiration for women in business” and is known for her dedication to supporting rural communities. In 2011, she was invited by President Obama to attend a White House forum on jobs and economic development after serving as a US Delegate to the APEC Women in Business Summit, and in 2012 she was the National Women in Business Champion for the Small Business Administration. Closer to home, Governor Schweitzer named her the 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year for the State of Montana. Calhoun and her company have been featured in many national publications including Entrepreneur, National Geographic, Delta Sky, Country Woman, Sunset, and Airstream Life. More here.

& Liz Carlisle, author of Lentil Underground

Photo & bio courtesy of lentilunderground.com

Photo & bio courtesy of lentilunderground.com

A journalist and Montana native, Liz Carlisle is also a fellow at the Center for Diversified Farming Systems at the University of California, Berkeley.  She holds a Ph.D. in Geography, also from Berkeley, and a B.A. from Harvard University.  A native of Missoula, Montana, Carlisle is a former Legislative Aide to United States Senator Jon Tester. Her book, Lentil Underground, tells the 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. Unearthing the deep roots of this movement, Lentil Underground introduces readers to a memorable cast of characters, from gun-toting libertarians and Christian homesteaders to peace-sign-waving environmental activists. Her eye-opening and richly reported narrative that will be welcomed by readers of food and farm memoirs, as well as everyone concerned with the future of American agriculture and natural food in an increasingly uncertain world. More here.


Speaker Laura Lengnick

Photo and bio courtesy of New Society Publishers

Author of Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate, Laura Lengnick is a researcher, policymaker, activist, educator and farmer whose work explores the community-enhancing potential of sustainable agriculture and food systems. Laura contributed to the 3rd National Climate Assessment as a lead author of the USDA report Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation. After leading the academic program in sustainable agriculture at Warren Wilson College  for more than a decade, Laura is now an affiliated researcher with the Local Food Research Center and a climate resilience planning consultant with Fernleaf Solutions, both located in Asheville, NC. More here.

Panels and Panelists

Lentil CookingClaudia’s Mesa 

Cottage Food and You: What the New Bill Means – Nancy Matheson & Ed Evanson, DPHHS Food & Consumer Safety

Financing Food and Energy Projects – Kathi Montgomery, Department of Environmental Quality, Revolving Loan Fund; Annie Heuscher, Community Food & Agriculture Coalition; Cindy Palmer, Office of State Auditor

Local Birding and Plant Walk – Jean Duncan

Developing Regional Food Networks: Success and New Directions – Patti Armbrister, Ag Ed, Hinsdale; Shay FarmerFarm to Institution Program Manager for Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center; Bruce Smith, MSU Extension Agent, Dawson County; Aubree Roth, Montana Farm to School Coordinator

Energy Policy at State Level – Diego Rivas, NW Energy Coalition; Ben Brouwer, Montana Renewable Energy Association; Alicia Pettys, Northern Plains Resource Council

Everyday Real Solutions – Jeff Pernell; Paul House; Jim Baerg

Innovative IdeasLed by Members — bring your ideas and discuss how to change the world!

Regional Roundtables – Attendees develop goals for their region

Other Activities Include: 

Morning yoga ~ music and dancing with Local Yokel ~ Live and silent auctions ~ Beginning/Young Farmer Mixer (hosted by CFAC) ~ Energy and Agriculture Task Force Meetings ~ LOTS of great food! ~ Games ~ Annual AERO Cake-Off! ~ Annual Meeting with Program and Financial Update and Board Elections ~ & more!

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