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Iowa Local foods Conference set April 8

By Staff | Mar 20, 2014

AMES — The spotlight is on local food business expansion in this year’s Iowa Local Food Conference from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 8 at the Quality Inn, 2601 East 13th St., Ames.

Keynotes and panels will highlight the growing number of opportunities available to food producers in their local networks.

Conference attendees may participate in three tracks — food hubs, processing centers and marketing.

Registration is open at: www.leopold.iastate.edu/2014-iowa-local-food-conference. The cost is $50 per person until March 28 and $65 after that day.

Student registrations are $25 each before the deadline and $35 afterward. Registration includes lunch with locally sourced products. Limited scholarships are available for those in need.

Sponsored by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Local Food and Farm Initiative and the Iowa Food System Working Group with Iowa State University Extension, the one-day conference will include presentations from successful local food practitioners and advocates.

Keynote speaker Lucie Amundson is the marketing brainchild behind her family’s pasture-raised chicken business, Locally Laid. Her social media savvy led Locally Laid to the final four in a national competition for small businesses to earn a 30-second spot at the Super Bowl.

Bill Menner, state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development; and Kamyar Enshayan, director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at University of Northern Iowa; will offer talks.

Conference coordinator Lynn Heuss said many business opportunities right now focus on local foods.

“The one-day conference will look at issues that can impact the bottom line of local food producers,” Heuss said, “and those affiliated businesses, such as the sustainability of food hubs that aggregate supplies, the benefits of processing centers for value-added products, and cutting edge options for marketing.

“There is always plenty of time for networking, and we’ll provide a lunch featuring some locally sourced ingredients.”

In the conference track on food hubs, participants may learn about different kinds of food hubs and the resources needed to create and sustain them.

The processing centers track will cover shared kitchens and kitchen incubators, as well as integrating value-added products from dairy, fresh or frozen processing.

The marketing strategies track includes online and institutional opportunities, as well as community supported agriculture and cookery classes.

The conference is geared to general audiences, students and vendors, and will be of interest to small growers, business owners and food service personnel, as well as others who are interested in growing local food systems in Iowa.

Contact Lynn Heuss for details, including scholarship application questions, at leheuss@iastate.edu.

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