April 11, 2012
Luther College, in collaboration with the Northeast Iowa Food and Farm Coalition, Resource Conservation and Development, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, is administering a survey throughout the area that will bridge the consumer-producer gap in the local food system and provide an orientation for future growing opportunities.
Luther encourages area producers and consumers in Winneshiek, Allamakee, Howard, Clayton, Chickasaw and Fayette counties to complete the survey at: https://www.luther.edu/sustainability/food/surveys
Producers and buyers can expect to receive a paper version in the mail sometime this spring and are encouraged to complete the short survey and return it in the enclosed envelope.
The producer and consumer inventory work is made possible by a statewide grant through the Rural Communities Development Initiative of Iowa. Purposes of the grant include building a capacity around local food in the region, facilitating stakeholder meetings, establishing email distribution networks, developing a regional local food system expansion plan and creating a fund-raising plan to support expansion.
Ten regions in Iowa have local foods coordinators working together to carry out the work of the grant. Five of these regions began working in 2010 and the other five started in 2011. The work they are doing will impact half of the state of Iowa. The Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development Office is one of 10 statewide recipients of the Rural Community Development Initiative grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.
Maren Stumme-Diers, sustainable food educator at Luther, is serving as the local foods coordinator for the grant and is taking the lead in collecting information from buyers and producers.
Luther has a strong commitment to local food. In Luther's 2008 strategic plan the college made the commitment to purchase 35 percent of its food from local sources. This commitment has been reaffirmed and the college hopes to achieve this goal by May 2013. Increasingly, the college is being recognized nationally for its innovative work with sustainable programs.
The purpose of the grant aligns with Luther's goals as the college works to help build a strong regional food economy.