AERO/MT is a grassroots organization based in Helena, MT with an impact in Missoula. Founded by "imaginative pragmatists, AERO is a community of social entrepreneurs dedicated to building the world in which we want to live. We have a producer-centric focus, helping communities build place-based, values-driven community food systems/webs with climate-smart solutions. We believe in partnerships and networks, and know that community is the future of sustainability."
Originally meaning 'Alternative Energy Resources Organization,' AERO has evolved to be more of a farm-to-table group while maintaining their initial focus:
"Montana powered with clean, renewable energy, empowered by a collaborative network of resilient communities, and where all Montanans are nourished by locally produced, sustainably grown healthy food."
"Grassroots and statewide, AERO cultivates sustainability by engaging community stakeholders and weaving networks that build lasting partnerships in the climate smart, sustainable agriculture and local food system sphere, creating spaces where leaders and inspired community models flourish."
Amongst the things they do, AERO/MT supports the Montana Food Economy Initiative
AERO’s Montana Food Economy Initiative (MFEI) strengthens the network of Montana values-based community food systems to ensure producer sustainability and resilience, and support community economic, environmental, social, and human health. MFEI emphasizes coordinating cross-sector engagement across all parts of the food system (producer, processor, distributor, consumer, recovery) to support critical producer sustainability.
AERO also is a major proponent of Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition
AERO is a member of the Steering Committee for Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition. Together with the Steering Committee: National Center for Appropriate Technology, Community Food and Agriculture Coalition, Lake County Community Development Corporation; partners, allies, and sponsors, we are giving community food systems a voice at the state legislative level to help ensure that Montana producers can get healthy food to Montana consumers.
Abundant Montana educates consumers about the value of local food, and support food and farming entrepreneurs building successful, well-connected, and thoughtful businesses. Abundant Montana began as a print directory in 1995, linking Montanans with local food across the state. Today, Abundant Montana lists over 600 farmers, ranchers, farmers’ markets, institutional and retail local food buyers, food pantries and community meals, and local food and agriculture organizations. By 2022 they anticipated having 1000+ listings, and aim to double that by 2023.
"AERO’s Value-Added Producer Success program offers educational workshops, training and resources with the goal of helping producers reduce their risks and maximize sustainable business success with home-based value-added products. They work to increase producers’ understanding of current Montana legislation regarding food licensing, registration and inspection (including new changes under SB199), and provide risk management strategies to minimize liability, maximize profitability and longevity for food enterprises, and increase consumer confidence in local food products."
Montana Food Providers Project MOA (Montana Organic Association) and AERO (Alternative Energy ResourcesOrganization) are spearheading a partnership to raise funds, supplies and awareness for addressing a dual reality underscored by the current COVID-19 crisis.
The Montana Food Providers Project Many people in Montana need food now, which Montana producers across the state could provide. They are starting with specific short-term distribution goals that address the immediate crisis by getting Montana food products in the hands of the Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN) for distribution across the state.