Local Montana Food Info Resources

by Catherine Haug, January 11, 2013

It seems like things are really happening regarding local food sources in Montana and Western Montana. Here are just a few exciting projects:

If you are concerned about the future access to food, and food sustainability in our community, I urge you to become active in any/all of these projects. We may not always have Costco and Walmart.

Food Info Resources

The Farm Hands Map has a new url and an exciting new look! Check it out: Farm Hands Map. It’s even easier to use their icons to search for a particular local food.

The Montana Food Mapping Project, a joint effort of AERO-Montana and the Montana Department of Agriculture, needs our help identifying local food businesses & producers, especially those that  buy/sell locally produced foods. From their website (Montana Food Mapping Project):

“We need your help adding more businesses to the maps. By taking the time to identify the food businesses in your region that are missing from the maps, you will be helping to increase the visibility of the farms, processors, retailers, and food services that are buying and selling Montana food in your region. There are two ways you can help get those businesses on the map:

— If you know of businesses that are buying or selling local food, and you don’t see them on the map, please take a minute to fill out THIS FORM so we can get their information and add them to the database and maps. (We will then contact these businesses to obtain their permission to be added to the maps.)

Remember, these customizable maps are designed to help you identify the entities involved in your local food system, and think about what it will take to further grow this type of food system. If you have any feedback about the maps, please do not hesitate to email kmoore@aeromt.org.”

They also could use your help in identifying businesses that are not identified in the right location on the map (GIS/addressing problems).

I alerted them to the Farm Hands map, so they will be adding all those businesses to the Montana Food Mapping project.

 The Montana Coop is using data from the Montana Food Mapping project to connect consumers to producers.

Buy Fresh Buy Local Montana Chapter is aeroMT.org. See also their Local Food & Sustainable Agriculture page. As disturbing fact from their website:

“Although agriculture is Montana’s largest industry, the facts about our food system illustrate a frightening disconnect between what we produce, and what we eat. The vast majority of the crops raised on Montana’s sixty million acres of farm and rangeland are exported as bulk raw commodities, such as wheat, barley, and feeder calves. … over 86% of the food we [currently] eat must be imported.”

Lets all work together to change this, to make locally produced foods more accessible to Montanans! Here are some of AERO’s food projects, (in addition to their food mapping project) described above. From their website:

  • “Food Policy: AERO is a founding member of the statewide food policy coalition Grow Montana, which has conducted foundational food systems research, developed Montana’s institutional market for local foods, and helped support food and agricultural entrepreneurs around the state.
  • Montana FoodCorps: AERO is  supporting the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s (NCAT)  Montana FoodCorps, which is a  team of full time, trained volunteers working on local food projects in nine rural Montana communities. AERO’s role is to help network the FoodCorps team and provide them with the resources needed to continue their leadership in Montana’s local food movement. Visit theMontana FoodCorps blog to learn more about their exciting work.
  • Farmers Markets: AERO has developed a manual on how to start a new farmers market in Montana, and has helped expand the ability to utilize SNAP benefits at farmers markets across the state. We also maintain a list of Montana farmers markets and community supported agriculture projects in the state.
  • Clarifying Food Safety Regulations: AERO has helped Montana’s state agencies identify and address some of the challenges farmers and ranchers face in navigating laws and regulations that pertain to marketing products directly to consumers.
  • Expanding Opportunities for Poultry Producers: AERO has been a key partner with the Montana Poultry Growers Cooperative in the development of a mobile poultry processing unit. AERO also helped develop and publish the Montana Poultry Growers Cooperative’s Mobile Processing Unit Training & Use Manual, and supports training and outreach for the MPU.
  • Community Gardens: In partnership with WEEL (Working for Economic Equality and Liberation), AERO founded the Growing Community Project, which is building community gardens within walking distance of every neighborhood in Helena, Montana.”


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