Iowa communities examine their strengths and challenges in building local food systems

As demand for locally grown foods continues to rise, more Iowans are taking a look at the factors that affect the creation of expansion of local food systems in their communities. As the name implies, a local food system encompasses many factors, including producers, markets, nutritional education, institutional buyers such as schools and hospitals, built infrastructure, processing, and much more. Continue reading

New Pulper Reduces Food Waste at Luther College


In a collaborative project between the Center for Sustainable Communities and Luther College Dining Services, a food waste pulper was installed in the Cafeteria dish room over Winter Break to help divert more food waste to the compost. All food scraps (including meat and dairy products) can go through the pulper; moisture is removed and the scraps are turned into pulverized bits that break down much faster in our compost pile. Continue reading

IFH Receives Funds to Study Veggie Snack Processing

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture has awarded grants for 21 new research and demonstration projects to begin this year. The grants will aid in the advancement of sustainable agriculture while protecting Iowa’s soil and water and help Iowa citizens increase the availability of locally grown foods. The new grants, totaling $1.4 million, are awarded through the Leopold Center’s four research initiatives: Ecology, Marketing and Food Systems, Policy, and Cross-Cutting. Continue reading

Farming the Web Builds Farm Business Capacity

Marketing is hard! And it can be even harder when you’re a full-time farmer running a local food business. Farmers will be the first to admit that they didn’t get into this line of work because they love creating brands, building websites or planning marketing strategies, but because they love growing good food for their neighbors. That’s why farmers are often short on this skill, and why folks in Region 4 identified it as a high-priority educational opportunity on NEIA Beginning Farmer Network surveys last fall. In response to their needs, we developed a full-day workshop entitled “Farming the Web; Managing the Gateway to Your Farm Business” with Ash Bruxvoort. Continue reading

Luther College Gardens growing a new legacy

The Luther College Gardens are a great place for students to learn about vegetable production while growing food for campus. During the 2016 season Luther students grew and sold 6,300 pounds of produce worth more than $11,000 to Luther’s Dining Services for use in the cafeteria, catering events and Oneota Market. At the same time, the Luther Gardens became the first liberal arts college garden in the country to be USDA Good Agricultural Practices certified for food safety practices. Continue reading

Results of USDA local food marketing survey

More than 167,000 U.S. farms locally produced and sold food through direct marketing practices, resulting in $8.7 billion in revenue in 2015, according to the results from the first Local Food Marketing Practices Survey released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The report results cover both fresh and value-added foods, such as meat and cheese. Continue reading