Creating a vibrant food system in Iowa requires diverse voices and strong partnerships. The Local Food and Farm Program team in Iowa invites you to contribute to a lively discussion at this year's Iowa Local Food Summit which will be held on Tuesday, April 3 at Ames. The event will take place at the Scheman Building at Iowa State University from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A local foods dinner will follow at 6 p.m.
The Iowa Legislature created the Local Food and Farm Program in 2011 to implement recommendations outlined in the Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan, which was developed by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU. Craig Chase, an ISU Extension economist and coordinator of the Leopold Center's Marketing and Food Systems Initiative, leads the six-member team.
Chase says, "The information for the original report that initiated the Local Food and Farm Program was the result of several meetings made up of over 1,000 of Iowa agriculture's best and brightest minds. It's our hope to again bring together a diverse mix of people concerned about and interested in creating a vibrant, sustainable local food system."
What are next steps for success that the state of Iowa needs to take?
During the first six months of funding the team identified the challenges to implementing the plan's 29 recommendations. They need the help of producers, distributors, educators, policymakers, consumers and other members of the local food economy to determine the next steps for success.
Afternoon workshops will center on six focus areas: 1) business development and financial assistance, 2) food processing, 3) food safety, 4) beginning, transitioning and minority farmers, 5) assessing programs, and 6) local food incentives.
Chase says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has been invited to speak at the beginning of the day about the burgeoning local food economy. "Secretary Northey has been a strong proponent of farmers markets and Farm to School and we look forward to having him attend," Chase notes.
Register for this conference before March 30 and save some money
The keynote speaker, David Dahlquist, is a nationally recognized public artist and teacher. Since 1988 he has completed more than 50 large-scale public commissions across the country. He will speak about creating a local sense of place that embraces food, history and culture.
Register online, or download the mail-in registration form, at www.ucs.iastate.edu/mnet/localfood/home.html. The regular fee is $20 and the student fee is $15 if you register before March 30. There is an additional $25 charge to attend the local foods dinner.
The event sponsors include the Leopold Center, ISU Extension, ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship.