LOCAL FOOD HAS IMPACTS: A new Leopold Center report shows that institutional purchases of local food added nearly $9 million to the Iowa economy in 2012, with plenty of room for growth. The findings are part of an evaluation of the Regional Food Systems Working Group, or RFSWG, that supports local food systems in 90 of Iowa's 99 counties. This was the first statewide effort to measure impacts associated with local food, from sales by farmers and purchases by grocery stores, restaurants and dining services to job creation in the local food sector. Says Leopold Center communications director, Laura Miller: "We've posted an 18-page report, summary of the findings and profiles of local food champions throughout the state on our website.".
CALLING ALL GRAZIERS: Grassland and cow/calf owners are invited to offer their opinions about allowing cattle to graze grasslands currently in government-contracted program and/or used for recreational purposes. The survey is associated with Jim Russell's mob grazing research at the ISU McNay Farm.
NEW STRIPS VIDEO: The STRIPS research team (Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairies) has a new video that shows what prairie conservation strips look like on the landscape and how landowners can get involved in testing this new practice. Team members also have been visiting farms to see how STRIPS can be implemented. Check the Leopold Center's Facebook page for photos from those visits.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
FARM ENERGY WEBINARS: The Farm Energy Working Group is hosting two webinars in December. A December 11 program explained Iowa's Alternative Energy Revolving Loan Program, or AERLP, managed by the Iowa Energy Center to support solar, biomass, small hydro and wind turbine projects. A December 18 program will focus on solar power in Iowa. Registration is free, details are on the group's website.
AQUAPONICS: Extension specialist Allen Pattillo, who used a Leopold Center special grant to set up an aquaponics system at Iowa State University, recently participated in a national webinar and contributed to a report. Get a link to the archived presentation and find out more about his experiment at the Leopold Center website.
EDUCATIONAL GRANTS: The Leopold Center will help co-sponsor one-time events, programs, workshops, conferences or displays that are educational in nature and support the mission of the center. Find out more about the Competitive Educational Support Program (CESP) at the Leopold Center website.
GOOD PRACTICES: ISU Extension economist Mike Duffy summarizes various conservation practices, ranging from operational changes such as cover cropping or crop rotation, to permanent changes like constructing riparian buffer strips or terraces. The document was prepared with support of the Leopold Center Policy Initiative. Read it here.
HOLIDAY CROP: Ajay Nair offers tips for growing (and a recipe for eating) sweet potatoes, a crop that has much potential in Iowa. The Leopold Center has supported his Sustainable Vegetable Production Lab at ISU. Details here.
CONGRATULATIONS: Rural Advantage is 10 years old. It's a Minnesota-based nonprofit that has explored a variety of solutions to water quality problems including addition of a third crop, local food production and ecopayments. To learn more about this, please visit the Rural Advantage website.