Montana Food Economy Initiative Community Launch

November 12, 2020

You’re invited to the Montana Food Economy Initiative (MFEI) Community Launch.
Thursday, December 3rd, 5 – 6:30pm

This will be a time for local food leaders from across the state to select an MFEI project to initiate within their individual communities, and join the network of communities working towards better Montana food systems. Register in advance here to attend. 

What to expect at MFEI Community Launch:

  1. Introduction to the MFEI – From AERO staff
  2. Learn about the MEFI projects – from MFEI advisory board mentors
  3. Q&A
  4. Wrap Up

Why participate?

Community members, known as local food leaders, are invited to complete a project from Dec 2020- May 2021. MFEI projects bring together community members to collaborate across food system sectors, foster new relationships and partnerships, experience the benefits of diversity, and lead Montana communities to more equitable and resilient food systems.

Upon completion, each project team will create a 5-min video (digital story) to share their project with other communities. Through coalition-building you will develop more and better cross-sector food system relationships. Each team is part of the MFEI Network of local food leaders and project participants, who share experiences at the closing MFEI network meeting in May 2021. Ultimately, each project improves your community food system’s resilience.

Opt-into an MFEI Project

Choose a project with a developed framework:

  1. Community Food System Assessment – Complete a community food system assessment to determine priority projects that your community can pursue to improve food system sustainability and resilience.
  2. MT Food Connections project: Helping producers feed their communities. With support from advisory board members, collaborate across your community food system to create a pathway for local food from the farm, ranch, or community garden to the pantry, school, or senior center. Develop a local distribution system that pays producers fairly and feeds local folks. At the launch, learn about pilot projects that have already begun around the state to connect pantries with local food. 

Or, submit a project proposal to inquire about technical assistance for a more grassroots MFEI project:

  1. Generate fertility / renewable energy on farms, ranches, community gardens. Whether you are ready to assess energy efficiency at your farm or ranch, save seeds, or build a biochar kiln, the MFEI advisory board will consider your project request and pool our resources to help you make your food system foundation a little bit more local, renewable, or accessible (aka. sustainable). 
  2. MT food processing & marketing – With partnership from the MSU Food Product Development Lab, we can support market research, food product development, sensory testing and more to develop food products that support sustainable farming practices and healthy diets from local Montana foods. 
  3. Early Care Education site local food procurement & education – With partnership from NCAT’s Local Food System Specialist, we can provide support for local food procurement, scratch cooking education, family outreach, equipment, and more for early care and education (ECE) sites that want to expand farm to school / ECE programming.


Are you Ready to Lead your Community in a Montana Food Economy Initiative Project?

You can start right now. Tips for success: 

  • Begin building a coalition that includes a producer, a consumer, youth, elder, folks of a range of gender identities, and with identities across race and ethnicities. Building a coalition with diverse perspectives helps us to see the whole picture and allows us to draw strengths from assets across the community to make the most impact. 
  • Attend the MFEI Community Launch with a group of 1-3 core local food leaders or stakeholders from your community 
  • Accept the reality of  Zoom-collaboration in the context of the CV-19 pandemic.
  • Embrace opportunities to learn about group facilitation, digital storytelling, coalition building, and project management that MFEI provides.
  • After the launch, determine which project is right for your community.

Alternative Energy Resources Organization

Mailing address: PO Box 1558, Helena MT 59624-1558

Physical address: 32 S Ewing St #314, Helena MT 59601