Food And Farm Program Seeks Local Food Project Ideas

Food And Farm Program Seeks Local Food Project Ideas

Iowa nonprofit organizations, farm groups and educational institutions are encouraged to submit proposals for potential funding by new program.

Iowa's Local Food and Farm Program is looking for a few good ideas that will help put more Iowa-grown products on dinner plates and more money in the pockets of Iowa farmers. The purpose of the program, established by the Iowa Legislature in 2011, is to increase the production, processing, distribution, marketing and consumption of local food in Iowa. The program also outlines the need to increase profitability and the number of jobs all along the local food chain.

IOWA GROWN: Iowa is experiencing an increasing demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables. If you're interested in producing and selling fruits and vegetables, you can learn more by attending a free planning meeting and farm tour Nov. 26 at Grinnell. Also, Iowa has a new program to help fund local food marketing groups, to help increase production, processing, distribution and consumption of locally-produced food in Iowa.

"We would really like to see projects that help establish a new local food business, such as food hubs or collaborative marketing networks, or projects working with beginning, minority or transitioning farmers," says Craig Chase, who coordinates the statewide program for ISU Extension and oversees related projects at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. "Projects that help us better understand what leads to successful farm-to-school, farm-to-institution or school gardens also would be considered."

Project proposals for potential funding by this program are due November 29

Chase encourages Iowa nonprofit organizations, agricultural groups and educational institutions to submit proposals for potential funding by the program. Projects must be for one year, beginning in January 2013, and limited funds are available.

Exactly what should be included in the proposal is outlined in Local Food and Farm Program's Request for Proposals (RFP). Deadline is November 29, 2012. For more information about the program, and a copy of the RFP, visit the Leopold Center website.

Chase works with a team of six educators throughout Iowa on the Program. A six-member Local Food and Farm Program Council, appointed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, advises the team on program directions. The program is following a set of recommendations from the Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan, prepared by the Leopold Center for the Iowa Legislature in January 2011.

Are you interested in growing fruits and vegetables in Iowa? Are you already a grower who sells produce?

In other news about horticulture in Iowa, Practical Farmers of Iowa recently sent out a press release asking these questions: Are you a fruit or vegetable grower in Iowa? Would you like to share your goals and challenges, or voice your thoughts on how horticultural programming at Practical Farmers of Iowa can best serve your needs?~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

If so, consider participating in a horticulture planning meeting hosted by Practical Farmers of Iowa on Monday, Nov. 26, from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Drake Community Library in Grinnell. Attendance is free, includes lunch and all fruit and vegetable growers are welcome. Also, PFI members Andrew and Melissa Dunham, owners of Grinnell Heritage Farm, will discuss their season extension marketing, production and storage practices before leading attendees on a tour of the season extension structure on their farm. RSVP by Wednesday, Nov. 21, to PFI office assistant Lauren Zastrow at [email protected] or (515) 232-5661.

There is a surge in demand in Iowa for locally-grown fruits and vegetables

The purpose of the meeting is twofold: to ensure fruit and vegetable farmers know about current horticultural programs at Practical Farmers of Iowa, and to gather input on the future direction of horticulture initiatives at PFI and the top priorities of Iowa's fruit and vegetable farmers. "With the surge in demand for Iowa-grown fruits and vegetables, Practical Farmers of Iowa has stepped up its horticulture programming," says Teresa Opheim, Practical Farmers of Iowa executive director. "We want to make sure it is as helpful as possible for Iowa fruit and vegetable businesses."

The Dunhams, who grow vegetables on 15 acres and tend a small herd of beef cows raised on pasture, have an unheated high tunnel, large cooler and recently built a bigger packing shed, all of which will be highlighted on the tour. The Dunhams will also discuss how they managed to secure a loan for cold storage through USDA's Farm Services Agency.

If you can't attend meeting, you're still welcome to join the group for the farm tour

Those people who are unable to attend the meeting are still welcome to attend the Dunhams' season extension talk and tour. The talk will start about 2 p.m. at the Drake Community Library, and attendees will depart for Grinnell Heritage Farm at 3 p.m. Please bring warm gear for the farm portion of the event.

Directions: The Drake Community Library is located at 930 Park St., in Grinnell. To reach the library from Interstate 80, take exit 182 for IA-146 towards Grinnell / New Sharon. Head north on route 146 for 3.3 miles, then turn right on 4th Avenue. Take the third left onto Park Street; the library will be on the right.

Grinnell Heritage Farm is located at 1933 Penrose St., 1.8 miles northeast of the library. To get there from the library, head north on Park Street two blocks and turn right on 6th Avenue / U.S. Route 6. Go eight-tenths of a mile, turn left (north) on Penrose Street and drive about 1 mile. The farm will be on the left. For questions about the meeting and tour, contact Sally Worley, Practical Farmers of Iowa deputy director at (515) 232-5661 or [email protected].

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