In June 2015, the Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition decided to plan an event focused on local food systems in the state. That initial idea has grown into the 2016 Governor’s Food and Agriculture Summit. Grow Montana and its partners continue planning the event, which will be held on October 28-29 in Bozeman on the Montana State University campus. The Summit will provide an opportunity for Montanans who care about the state’s food economy to come together, share information, and strategize about the next 10 years of work in the state.

The Summit’s website launched recently, which also signaled the beginning of registration for the event. There keynotespeakers
is an early-bird discount for folks registering before August 31. In addition to individuals signing up for the Summit at the website, businesses and other entities can find information about sponsoring the event. There are numerous sponsorship opportunities available, and more details can be found here.

The website also contains descriptions of the five topical tracks that form the basis for the Summit.  Attendees will choose one topic and remain in that track during the event to help identify challenges that exist and brainstorm ways to address them. The tracks will be a mixture of panel presentations, small group discussions, and attendees prioritizing next steps. All of the tracks will report out their top recommendations at the Summit’s conclusion.

One feature of the website helps link the upcoming Summit to the one convened nine years ago by former Governor Brian Schweitzer. A video produced after the 2007 event examines the need for and challenges of creating vibrant local food systems in Montana at that time. The 2016 Summit will reflect on the progress made since 2007, while also determining what work still needs to be done.

The Summit website will continue to be updated with the latest information, so keep an eye on it at https://foodsummit.ncat.org/. For more background regarding the Summit, please see this article.