Area vegetable and fruit farmers gained a lesson in aggregation and distribution of local foods and products recently when food system consultant Rink DaVee was featured in a forum titled "Truckbeds and Beyond."
DaVee traveled from his farm in Mineral Point, Wis., to the Cherokee County Extension office to talk about the organization of his regional food distribution business and discuss some ideas for increasing sales and market opportunities for fresh local vegetables in Northwest Iowa.
"I love seeing truckbeds of vegetables and local products pulling into farmers markets in our region," Iowa State University (ISU) Extension Regional Foods Coordinator Laura Kuennen said. "But I wonder what we can do to see more local foods appear in restaurants and grocery stores in our local communities."
DaVee covered topics that helped to ease that wonder and left farmers with a full plate of new ideas. As he described the flow of food from seed to fork, he included stories from his experiences selling to stores, restaurants, and distributors. He explained that starting and running a local food distribution business encompasses a wide variety of duties, and farmers took away a better understanding of the level of organization that is needed to make these kinds of sales more successful.
The event was made possible by support from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and USDA Rural Development. It is part of Iowa State University Extension's new "Flavors of Northwest Iowa" campaign focused on promotion for local foods and education for farmers and consumers to support vibrant, community-based, economically sustainable and environmentally and socially responsible regional food enterprises.