Agriculture dominates Iowa's rural landscape, and now leaders in three Iowa cities are learning how to foster a different kind of agriculture in their urban landscapes.
At a day-long workshop January 9, 2015 in Ames, stakeholders from Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Cresco will discuss a process they've followed over the past year to identify activities that could grow the local food sector in their own communities. The workshop, which is free and open to the public, is hosted by the Iowa State University Community Design Lab (CDL) and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
The workshop introduces the Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit, a process to set common goals related to the local food system, and to create or connect existing activities such as school gardens, urban farms, food hubs, mobile markets and farmers markets, to accomplish those goals. Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Cresco were the first three pilot communities in Iowa to complete this process as part of a Leopold Center grant.
More people are interested in buying locally-produced food
"We've planned this workshop to connect pilot communities involved in this project as well as people in other communities who are interested in having more food produced and available locally," says Courtney Long, Design Fellow at CDL and the Leopold Center. "It is an opportunity to learn about the Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit process, how it has worked in the pilot communities, and share ideas with one another."
Long said the event will include a panel discussion with leaders from the pilot communities about their challenges and successes, and projects they have selected for development during the next two years. The CDL also will introduce a new manual that outlines best management practices for 17 agricultural urbanism tactics and how each tactic, such as a community garden or shared-use kitchen, fits into a local food system.
Local food system needs to have both rural and urban agriculture
"A local food system needs to include both rural and urban agriculture activities," Long explains. "The toolkit helps these activities work together to meet the needs of a broader community."
The CDL will partner with three new communities in 2015, she adds. The application process for being involved in the project will be discussed at the workshop. The workshop will be held at Design On Main, 203 Main Street, in Ames. A light breakfast and lunch will be served. Registration is requested by January 5 to provide an accurate meal count. The full agenda and a link to registration is available on the Leopold Center website.
Travel scholarships of up to $50 per vehicle also are available for workshop attendees. Funds are provided by the Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program administered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. For more information, contact Long at [email protected], (515) 294-2213.