For Iowa’s food hubs, networking leads to solutions

by Kayla Koether
Food Systems Specialist


More and more, locally grown food graces the grocery lists of Iowans looking to support their local economy and purchase fresh, source-verified products. While local food is becoming accessible in more venues, most consumers don’t realize that many small food businesses are working very hard behind the scenes (and doing so in partnership with non-profits and extension) to bring those products to the marketplace. Their goal: to support more farmers and make local food accessible to a wider range of consumers. Continue reading

Choosing to Stay

One of the challenges of investing in youth living in a rural area is that youth often move away, commonly called the “Brain Drain.” This drain contributes to an overall decline in population, a decrease in the number of families raising children in rural places (thus contributing to declining school enrollments), and a decrease in the number of new young farmers ready to take over operations from the older generation. It also means that efforts to invest in youth may benefit the cities they move to rather than the small towns they come from.


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Laying the Groundwork

AKayla Koether_headshotfter some time abroad and working in other community organizations, I’m happy to be back on this blog and supporting the Food and Farm Coalition and the Food and Fitness Initiative. Time has truly flown since I started as Food System Specialist on March 21st! I’ve been busy settling into my role, getting to know stakeholders, and attending a variety of trainings. Some trainings have helped educate me about goals of Iowa State Extension and services that we offer, others have helped me develop specific skill sets and knowledge that I’ll use in my work with local farmers. Continue reading

Fun at the [Wellness] Fair

Health Fair17

Stephanie Jones and students demonstrate Zumba, an afterschool activity that Stephanie offers to the whole middle school

When I first heard the term “Wellness Fair,” it seemed like those two words didn’t fit together. What did balloons, excitement, and junk-food have to do with Wellness? Before I started my term as an AmeriCorps volunteer, “Wellness” always reminded me of charts, science textbooks, exam rooms, and plastic skeletons.  “Fair” makes me think of rides, food on a stick, and my days as a 4-Her including the grueling, impassioned hours I spent on fair projects and the fun I had working alongside friends to learn new skills. Continue reading