Iowans who visit farmers markets in seven cities this summer will see the connection between local food and local energy when they meet Steve Fugate and his biodiesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta.
Fugate is president of the Yoderville Biodiesel Collective and education director for the Iowa Renewable Energy Association. He hopes his visits to farmers markets in Iowa City, Grinnell, Davenport, Ames, Fairfield, Washington and Cedar Rapids will lead to greater production of local energy. His farmers market tour from July 28 to August 14 is sponsored by the National Center for Appropriate Technology and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University.
The first stop will be at the Farmers Market in downtown Iowa City on July 28; the last visit will be August 14 in Cedar Rapids (see full schedule below). His goal is to persuade people that the "Buy Local" movement should extend to locally produced forms of energy, too, from biodiesel and biogas to wind and solar.
"Buy local" applies to fuel too, not just locally-produced food
Just as with food, energy produced locally carries many benefits, Fugate says. Biodiesel, for instance, reduces reliance on foreign oil and is better for the environment. It can also be made on the farm, using vegetable oil thrown away by local restaurants, or from oilseed crops grown locally. Wind and solar are growing Iowa industries that provide jobs in many Iowa communities as well as making use of resources Iowa has in abundance.
"In Iowa we are fortunate to have the expertise and financial assistance available to build sustainable, local food and fuel production systems," he adds. "Farmers may not be aware that there are many opportunities for grants and funds to do on-farm energy projects and there are low-cost DIY solutions that can be done for very little investment."
Fugate also is leading a biodiesel workshop September 11 in Kalona. For more information, contact him at (319) 331-4831, [email protected].
Farmers market stops:
* Iowa City--Wednesday, July 28
* Grinnell--Thursday, July 29
* Davenport--Saturday, July 31
* Ames--Thursday, August 5 (Downtown market)
* Fairfield--Wednesday, August 11
* Washington--Thursday, August 12
* Cedar Rapids--Saturday, August 14