Last fall at Expo 2019, Dr. Ricardo Salvador invited us to think creatively about how we envision sustainable food systems, in his keynote, ‘The Vision is Easy: Are ‘We’ Willing?’. The vision is of a food system that is better for all of us. To build resilient food systems that serve all of us, we must claim our collective identity— who ‘we’ are. AERO’s 2020 programming is an invitation for all Montanans to belong to this work of building community-based food systems.
Montana Food Economy Initiative
With funding from Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (W SARE), cross-sector collaborators who are working towards resilient food systems across the state have joined the Advisory Board for the Montana Food Economy Initiative. One of the largest challenges to building resilient community food systems is diverse and inclusive involvement. In order to cultivate diverse involvement, we are bringing together food producers, distributors, retailers, researchers, public health professionals and consumers to support cross sectoral change. Projects could include connecting producers with institutional markets, community gardens, season extension, value added product development, on farm energy production, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and more.
Due to the diversity in skillset and perspective of the advisory board, the MFEI will lean on them for guidance and direction to make the most impact. The advisory board will support G2S (‘Grassroots to Systems’) project development and advise the project teams to enable their communities to be more resilient. Community teams will opt in to projects in fall of 2020, have access to the Advisory Board for support throughout the project, and report on projects at an MFEI network meeting in Spring 2021. In the spirit of collaboration the G2S project materials will be housed in an online MFEI resource hub that can be widely accessed for future community teams to implement.
Racial Justice in Montana’s Food Systems
We all have an opportunity to come together for racial justice and equity in our community food systems. This Spring, AERO participated in the Food Solutions New England 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge. For 21 days, FSNE sent prompts for participants to reflect, learn and act to dismantle racism within ourselves, interpersonal relationships, institutions, and ultimately the systems that harm true partnership and collective action for resilient food systems.
AERO wants to continue the conversation about racial justice in Montana’s food system with you by offering this opportunity again, over 21 weeks this time. We invite you to learn about racial inequities in the food system in Montana, and how, together, by dedicating our collective thoughts, power, empathy, and actions, we can create new, more resilient systems that care for all Montanans. Stay tuned for more information.