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2019 AERO Expo: Seeding the Future

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Strand Union Building, Montana State University

751 W Grant St

Bozeman, MT 59717

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AERO Expo 2019

SEEDING THE FUTURE: Cultivating Community Resilience

Montana State University Campus, Bozeman
October 25-27, 2019

In 1984, AERO’s Ag Task Force hosted Montana’s first major sustainable agriculture conference in Bozeman on the Montana State University campus. Today, 35 years later, AERO is partnering with MSU and community members to host the 2019 Expo: “Seeding the Future.” Expo 2019 built 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 is 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.

KEYNOTE: Dr. Ricardo Salvador

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.



Expo 2019 features four tour options that showcase the amazing sustainability developments taking place in and around Bozeman. The four tour options are:

  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. Transportation and lunch provided by Western SARE.

  2. 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.

  3. Food Equity in Action Tour - The emergency food system has increased access to fresh and local foods. Come with us as we learn from the front runners at Livingston Food Resource Center & Gallatin Valley Food Bank who are working together to make healthy food available in Montana.

  4. Sustainable and Resilient Bozeman and Montana State University - See examples of how community and campus are working together to make Bozeman a more sustainable and resilient place. This tour will focus on zero waste efforts, alternative energy, and climate action in Bozeman. More details to come!


Potluck off-campus. Then join us back on MSU campus for
Seeding the Future: Youth, Wisdom & Food
PROGRAM: 7:30 Montana-inspired dessert buffet and cash bar.

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 Friday night potluck. Seeding the Future: Youth, Wisdom & Food is included in Expo registration and open to the public for a $10 registration here.



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?
  • Access & Affordability for All
  • Community-based Food Systems
  • Farm Resiliency

1:30 -- 3:00 PM

  • Community-Driven Food Sovereignty: Learning from the Successes in Indian Country (Working Title)
  • Food=Health
  • The Middle of the Value Chain: A Place-based Study of Aggregation and Distribution
  • Meeting the Need: Farmer Sustainability
  • Energy & Carbon On Farm

3:00 -- 5:00 PM

  • Moving Forward: Connecting Key Elements for a Values-based Food System in Your Community
  • Moving Forward: Food System Innovation for Resilient Communities
  • Moving Foward: Using Climate Actions Plans as Policy Instruments to Support Community Resiliency


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


  • AERO Annual Meeting
  • Closing Discussion with Co-EDs Jenn Battles & Lindsay Ganong
  • DIY Sessions
  • Continue 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.

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Strand Union Building, Montana State University

751 W Grant St

Bozeman, MT 59717

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