Today Iowa is harvesting the results of a conference that took place a decade ago. A group of Iowans shared a meal of locally grown food and explored how it would be possible for more Iowans to eat what their neighbors grew. Matt Russell, Lacona farmer and board chair of the Iowa Network for Community Agriculture see great promise in local food systems.
Today one of the fastest growing segments of Iowa agriculture is locally produced food. Family farmers credit a gathering ten years ago with planting the seeds of this new trend.
When the first local food conference was held in Iowa in 1995, there was very little food that Iowans could purchase from their neighbors. Matt Russell, who farms near Lacona andis board chair of the Iowa Network for Community Agriculture, says the trend benefits thewhole food chain.
"Local food really connects, it's a healthy food and creates healthy people out of that comes from healthy farms and a healthy environment. There is a lot of economic opportunities so we get healthy communities and a healthy economy."
The Iowa Network for Community Agriculture was born as a result of that first local food conference; since then they've been helping farmers and consumers connect throughout the state.
"We've seen a growth in farmers markets. We've seen a growth in direct sales from farms and restaurants are now putting it on their menu that a particular farm that they are buying their pork from or their eggs or poultry and their vegetables."
The network will meet up again in February, and their next conference on the health benefits of locally grown food. In addition, Russell says there will be workshops on cooking, how to find and store locally produced foods during the winter, marketing and production techniques for farmers.
The conference will be held February 3rd and 4th at Walnut Hills Methodist Church in Clive. For information on the conference go to http://www.growinca.org/ , contact Matt Russell at 515-689-8219.
or contact John Crabtree, firstname.lastname@example.org
Center for Rural Affairs
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