Organizations and individuals who are developing local food systems in their community or region are invited to join others throughout Iowa who are doing the same thing at the winter meeting of the Regional Food Systems Working Group of Iowa. The meeting will take place on Friday, December 14 on the ISU campus at Ames.
The group, also known as RFSWG, gathers quarterly so its members can share and learn from one another. Membership represents 17 local food groups covering 88 counties in Iowa. The group was formed in 2003 by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Jessica Burt Fogarty, assistant RFSWG coordinator, said each group will provide highlights of activities during the past year. In the afternoon, managers of two of Iowa's largest produce auctions, in Cedar Valley and Drakesville, will discuss their operations and answer questions.
The meeting will be in the South Ballroom of the ISU Memorial Union in Ames. Activities are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is no fee to attend, but participants are asked to register ahead of time online.
For more information about participating organizations and where the local groups are doing their work, go to the RFSWG website.
It was also announced last week by ISU Extension that the Great Plains Growers Conference and Trade Show will be Jan. 10-12, 2013 at the Fulkerson Center on Missouri Western State University's campus in St. Joseph, Mo. The event is a five-state collaborative effort of growers associations and University Extension from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.
"Interesting and useful information will be presented on production and marketing of vegetables, cut flowers and fruit," says Ajay Nair, ISU Extension vegetable specialist. "Experienced commercial vegetable growers and those with a dream of starting to grow and sell produce will find value in the conference."
Six day-long workshops begin the conference on Thursday, January 10. Participants will select one topic from the following: high tunnel production, soils and irrigation, fruit production, honeybees and beekeeping, introduction to vegetable production for Spanish speakers, and farm to school program. More than 60 presentations covering organic and conventional crop production are planned for the second and third days of the conference, including opportunities to follow tracks on small fruit, tree fruit, cut flowers, beginner and advanced organic, marketing and beekeeping. Sessions on urban horticulture and community gardens have been added this year.
Conference registration: Registration for the January 10 workshop is $55 per person, except for the Introduction to Vegetable Production (Spanish) track, which is $35 per person due to grant funding. Early bird registration for the January 11 and January 12 sessions is $45 per day; after December 27, registration is $55 per day. Reduced registration for students is $25 per day. Registration includes meals and breaks.
The full program, registration information and updated details of the conference are available at the Great Plains Growers website. For more information about the program and a registration form, contact Mary Beth Alpers at [email protected] or phone 816-279-1691.