Local Foods Resources - Dubuque County


Free Online Training Course to Help Kids Understand Food Safety
This site includes some quizzes and other resources to ensure that kids are staying safe while eating the produce they grow. It also has some health & nutrition info.  
New Resource Helps Farmers and Farmers Markets Accept SNAP Benefits 
Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced MarketLink, a website that provides farmers’ markets and direct-marketing farmers with a new, streamlined process for becoming authorized Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) vendors and information about obtaining the equipment needed to accept SNAP benefits.  Up to $4 million in grants for equipment will be available through September 30, 2014 for those who qualify.
As a one-stop-shop, MarketLink provides farmers and markets with information about wireless EBT equipment providers, wireless plans, USDA-approved payment processors and their rates and terms, along with relevant links to become an authorized SNAP retailer and to determine eligibility for free EBT equipment.
A result of a partnership between USDA FNS and the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP), MarketLink is an effort to enhance the participation of farmers and farmers markets in SNAP, which helps prevent hunger for millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families in the U.S. and provides farmers with access to an expanded customer base.  USDA states that MarketLink will help ensure that families and individuals in need, “have access to even more fresh fruits and vegetables by upgrading the infrastructure at America’s farmers markets to accept SNAP benefits.”
Farmers markets and SNAP redemption at farmers markets has experienced tremendous growth in recent years.  Farmers markets have gone from about 5,000 in number in 2008 to over 8,000 as of August 2013.  Of the over 8,000 farmers markets listed in the USDA National Farmers Market Directory, over 4,000 farmers’ markets and direct marketing farmers are authorized to accept SNAP nationwide.  Meanwhile, between 2011 and 2013, SNAP redemption rates at farmers markets have nearly doubled, increasing from $11.7 million in 2011 to $20.4 million in 2013.  Since 2004, when SNAP benefits shifted a paperless, debit-card style benefit (known as an EBT or Electronic Benefit Transfer card), the value of SNAP redemptions at farmers markets increased by 400 percent.
USDA encourages farmers and markets to check out MarketLink and begin the authorization process right away in order to receive SNAP authorization and wireless equipment in time for the Spring 2014 start of the market season.
Limestone Bluffs RC&D can work with producers through its own "Rural Business Enterprise Revolving Loan Fund" in conjunction with a USDA program.

Limestone Bluffs RC&D’s loan program offers small, low-interest loans to small businesses within the six-county region: Dubuque, Delaware, Jackson, Jones, Cedar, & Clinton counties. The application process has been described by former recipients as a “low stress process” that they were glad to have available. 

Loans from this program could be used in conjunction with the USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program which is a grant program for agricultural producers in which funds can be used to start a new producer-owned business or to develop an existing (also producer-owned) businesses.
For the purpose of this program “agricultural producer” can be defined as farmer, rancher, logger, agricultural harvester, or fisherman who produces or harvest an agricultural commodity. The projects funded through these grants can range from increasing farm income or creating new jobs to contributions to the community or rural economic development. It can also include methods to enhance food choices for consumers. 
Grants may be used to fund one of the following two activities:
• Develop business plans and feasibility studies (including marketing plans or other planning activities) needed to establish viable marketing opportunities for value-added products; or
• Acquire working capital to operate a value-added business venture or alliance. Working capital applications generally must be supported by an independent feasibility study as well as a business plan.
Grant funds may not be used for repair, acquisition, or construction of a building or facility or to purchase, rent or install fixed equipment. Cash and/or in-kind matching funds are required, must be at least equal to the amount of Federal funds awarded, and must be expended in advance, such that for each grant dollar advanced, an equal amount of match shall have been expended first.
The grant program is administered by the Cooperative Division of USDA’s Rural Business Cooperative Service and grant applications are first screened through each state’s USDA Rural Development Office. Assistance with preparing a grant application is available through Limestone Bluffs RC&D. And the loan program is administered by Limestone Bluffs RC&D, Inc. 
For more information regarding the loan program, please contact us:
Limestone Bluffs RC&D
PO Box 825
Maquoketa, Iowa 52060-0825
Phone: (563) 652-5104
For more information regarding the USDA Rural Development Value Added Producer Grants, please visit: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/bcp_vapg_grants.html 
New Manual Shows Growers How to Share Machinery, Cut Costs
Labor is a key challenge for fruit and vegetable growers looking to meet increased demand, but sharing machinery is a possible solution. A new manual from  Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture can help.  http://www.extension.iastate.edu/article/new-manual-shows-growers-how-share-machinery-cut-costs


Energy, farmer training, getting local foods online and adoption of a new conservation practice are part of the latest round of completed projects in our grants program. As a condition of receiving a Leopold Center grant, investigators submit final reports after projects are finished. We glean those reports and summarize the findings in an easy-to-read format and post on our website. Find 5 new projects at www.leopold.iastate.edu/news/results:
·         Investigating opportunities for enhancing farmer adoption of a strategically targeted prairie strips
·         Iowa Farm Energy Working Group
·         Micro-Farming: Reducing rural and urban food deserts through job training
·         Research and development of an online local foods buying club cooperative
·         The University of Iowa Biomass Partnership Project
The statewide Farm Energy Working Group has two fascinating programs in November. At noon on November 12, they host a free webinar to hear about vertical energy-efficient LED lights used in an aquaponics system in Minnesota. On November 13 the group will tour a new energy-efficient robotic milking facility at the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation. Both programs are open to the public but registration is requested.
Once again the Iowa Organic Conference will convene at the University of Iowa Memorial Union on November 17-18. The conference begins on Sunday evening with a reception and movie showing, and a full day of workshops on November 18. Keynote speaker is Bob Quinn, a Montana farmer with 4,000 certified acres producing organic grains, alfalfa hay, vegetables and fruits. An all-organic lunch featuring regional foods will be served on Monday.
The Leopold Center is supporting a new organization, the Farmer Veteran Coalition of Iowa that will host its first annual conference December 14 in Des Moines. Designed for veterans who want to farm, the event offers workshops on business development, talking with lenders, and various assistance programs. See our calendar:
The Leopold Center and the Iowa Water Center are working together on what’s been called the challenge of this century: climate change. The Leopold Center is supporting the Iowa Water Center’s current Institute Research Grants program that will fund research related to climate variability and how we manage water resources. Proposals are due November 18. Directors of both centers signed the recent Iowa Climate Statement.
Speaking of water, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Department of Natural Resources have launched a new website that they hope will improve the state’s water quality. The site is related to the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy that outlines numerous farming practices that can improve water quality, many of them supported by Leopold Center research.
If you’ve ever visited with our Distinguished Fellow Fred Kirschenmann, you know exactly what a group of Ames High School students meant when they coined this term to explain what they learned from him about sustainability. Washington, D.C. metro riders will see the work of this group, which is also featured on the Lexicon of Sustainability website. The students explored several topics (“Freducation” among them) and developed multi-media presentations. They also visited the nation’s capital to share their experiences.
Northey: Funds Available for Water Quality Practices

Cost share assistance available for cover crops, no-till/strip till or nitrification inhibitor
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced today that cost share funds are available to help farmers install nutrient reduction practices.  The initial practices that are prioritized for funding this fall are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fertilizer.
The cost share rate for farmers planting cover crops is $25 per acre and for farmers trying no-till or strip till is $10 per acre.  Farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer can receive $3 per acre.
Any farmer not already utilizing these practices can apply for assistance.  Farmers are only eligible for cost share on up to 160 acres.
Farmers can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to apply.
FieldWatch Upgrades DriftWatch Specialty Crops Registry for National Expansion
FieldWatch™ Inc. has successfully transitioned to its national version of the online DriftWatchTM  specialty crop site registry for high-value, specialty crops and apiaries to a new technology platform.   The DriftWatch registry allows crop producers to identify and map the location of their sensitive crops such as tomatoes, fruit trees, grapes, vegetables and organic crops, providing a stewardship resource for applicators to consult before spraying.   Producers and applicators from states currently in the system who are interested in joining the registry can easily complete the registration process through the DriftWatch registry at www.driftwatch.org.  To learn more about FieldWatch and to gain access to the DriftWatch registry, please visit the new company website at www.fieldwatch.com.
Transplant production decision tool for vegetable producers
The Transplant Production Decision Tool seeks to provide information and options to organic and conventional market farms in the Upper Midwest about the options available as they scale up to meet the increasing demand for local and organic produce. In the pages of this section, we profile the transplant production methods of several small- and large-scale growers. We also look at the options available in several phases of the transplant production process – seeding, germination, benches, irrigation, and putting plants out in the field. Find Out More
Leopold Letter Spring 2013
This issue focuses on promising alternative enterprises: game-bird preserves for land unsuitable for row-crops, aquaponics for operators looking for off-season earnings, and agroforestry opportunities we hadn’t yet considered. Director Mark Rasmussen talks about the need to find balance in our farming operations, and Distinguished Fellow Fred Kirschenmann discusses the real purpose of education.   Read Now

GAP Cost-share Grants Available for Iowa Growers

Iowa fruit and vegetable farmers can apply for a cost-share grant to assist with the costs of independent food safety certification of an operation’s good agricultural practices (GAPs).   The program is available to any Iowa grower. 
To be eligible, growers must have a third-party audit from an approved government agency or company that verifies GAP or GHP efforts, the audit must be conducted in 2013 or 2014 and the grower must submit an application to participate in the program prior to the audit. The audit can be for farm review, field harvest and field packing activities, packing house facility, storage and transportation, and traceback. Qualified applicants may receive up to a maximum of $450 per year to cover the costs of one successful audit. 
The cost share program is designed to help defray some of the costs related to a successful audit.  USDA audits for Iowa produce farms have ranged in price from $525 to $1200 per year.   For more information about on-farm food safety or GAP certification, contact Teresa Wiemerslage at wiemer@iastate.edu or 563-794-0599.  Visit www.iowafreshfood.com for application materials.

New Report: Local Food Prospectus for the Tri-State Region
A new report is available from the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. Although the report is to cover a tri-state area, there is a great deal of information on fruit and vegetable production in the US. If you are interested in fruit and vegetable production, I encourage you to review this report - especially if you are a producer looking to scale-up or provide technical assistance to producers. It is a great compilation of data and graphs. The *Local Food Prospectus for the Tri-State Region* is a great resource for people interested in agriculture, local foods, and economic development.  Read the Report
New Microloan Program

Producers can apply for a maximum of $35,000 to pay for initial start-up expenses such as hoop houses to extend the growing season, essential tools, irrigation, delivery vehicles, and annual expenses such as seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, marketing, and distribution expenses. Expanding access to credit, USDA's microloan will provide a simple and flexible loan process for small operations.  Producers interested in applying for a microloan may contact their local Farm Service Agency office.

Aquaponic Agriculture Holds Promise for Local Foods
An aquaponics experiment in Iowa is demonstrating that fresh greens and tasty fish can be produced almost anywhere in an economically and ecologically viable form of agriculture.  Read More
Passing Along Farm Knowledge
A mentor-intern handbook for dairy and livestock farmers is a resource for both mentors and interns. This handbook helps them identify ways to work together to meet shared goals. It provides examples and activities to help mentors and interns get the most out of the internship.  Read Handbook
Pastured Heifers Grow Well
Dairy heifers that were raised on pasture in the ongoing Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial (WICST) performed as well as or better than similar heifers that were raised in confinement.  Read Full Article
2013 Garden Calendar Available
Gardeners, both novice and experienced, will be inspired to preserve their garden bounty with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s 2013 garden calendar. The full-color, 12-month calendar is filled with stunning photography and information.  More Info
Healthy & Homemade: 2013 Nutrition and Fitness Calendar
Use this 12-month calendar to track your nutrition and fitness plans and to create simple, healthy meals. Each month's featured recipe also comes with a menu plan and fitness tips.  More Info
Iowa Farmers Feed Us
While Iowa farmers are currently focused on harvesting their fields and caring for their livestock, they also understand the need to open their doors to consumers interested in seeing how their food is grown and raised today.  Starting now through noon on October 31, you can meet eight Iowa farmers and learn more about how your food is grown and raised. MEET IOWA FARMERS
Farm Energy Resources
The Iowa Farm Energy Working Group has created a One Stop Shop for resources on how to reduce fossil fuel use on farms, energy conservation, renewable energy, utility rebate programs and energy audits. Learn more about this group and get a link to their new resource page. Learn More   
New Guide Offers Overview of Iowa Food Marketing Rules
“Iowa Food Marketing Regulations: A Guide for Small-Scale Producers” offers an overview of various licenses required for selling food in Iowa and state regulations that govern those sales.LEARN MORE
Rural Business Enterprise Revolving Loan Program        
The Limestone Bluffs Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Area, Inc. is administering a Rural Business Enterprise Revolving Loan (RBERL) program targeted towards new or expanding small businesses.  The loan program is designed to assist the six eastern Iowa counties included in the Limestone Bluffs area overcome gaps in local capital markets that inhibit emerging small businesses from obtaining suitable credit and impede economic growth and stability.  Loan Selection Process: Loan Application forms are available upon request from the Limestone Bluffs RC&D office.  Applicants may also request assistance from Limestone Bluffs RC&D in completing application forms by calling 563-652-5104.    More details

10 Ways to Start Eating Local

We've all heard the benefits of buying local, but sometimes it's difficult to make changes in buying and cooking habits.  Below are easy tips to get started!
1.  Know What's in Season.  
Knowing what's in season in your region will help you know what to expect at farmers markets and farm stands.  Check out the Northeast Iowa Seasonal Produce Guide
2.  Shop at a Farmers Markets.
Shopping at your local farmers market is a fun and easy way to increase the amount of local foods you eat and purchase!  Try planning your weekly menu AFTER shopping at the market and let your fresh, local produce guide to your recipes.  More and more local produce is offered year-round, due to winter farmers' markets and the hard work of farmers who utilize season extension and storage techniques.
3.  Join a Community Supported Agriculture Farm.
CSA farms connect participants to their farm buy having consumers purchase a "share" of the farm and, in exchange, you receive weekly or biweekly share of the harvest.  You receive the best produce the farm has to offer, and the farm has a set of guaranteed sales and income up-front for seasonal expenses.  If you'd like to find an area CSA farm to join, please e-mail bbethel@iastate.edu and I'll be happy to find you a good fit!
4.  Plant a Garden.
Growing your own food is the ultimate way to eat local!  From a simple indoor herb garden to prolific raised beds to feed your family, there are LOTS of ways to grow your own food!  See Planting a Home Vegetable Garden 
5.  Visit U-Picks & Farm Stands.
Take advantage of our Midwest soil by visiting U-Picks and Farm Stands throughout the year!   Whether it's stocking up on strawberries during early summer or picking apples during the fall, u-picks are a great source for large quantities of super-fresh produce, and they provide a hands-on farm experience!
6.  Find a good Seasonal Recipe Book!
Buying local produce becomes wasteful if we don't know how to cook and use it!  Search out some good seasonal cookbooks, which makes it easier to plan recipes with the season!  Some of my favorites include From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce and Simply in Season.
7.  Find Time to Cook at Home
Making time to cook at home is becoming increasing hard, which makes ready-to-eat dinners and fast food more and more popular!  Find ways to cook at home that work for your and your schedule.  For example: I shop at the farmers market on Saturday, plan my week's recipes and pick up the rest of my ingredients on Sunday, and then spend about 2-3 hours cooking all of our meals for the week (lunch and dinner!).  The kitchen becomes truly a disaster zone but my family has home-cooked, seasonal meals throughout the week and I don't have to spend an hour cooking every night!  Win-Win!  Helpful Menu Planning Tools
8. Stock your pantry!
Choosing to eat locally often means cooking from scratch.  While this can be a fun, creative and healthy activity, there are tips to making this task easier!  Having items on hand that you use on a weekly basis makes spur of the moment changes to recipes much easier!  For example: I try to keep beans (cannellini, black, kidney and garbanzo), rice (brown, wild, and arborio), spices (too many to name!), oils (olive, canola, sesame), canned tomatoes (diced, paste, sauce), onions and garlic on hand at all times!  With these basic staples I have a lot more power and flexibility in the kitchen!
9.  Choose Restaurants the Source Locally.
Frequent restaurants that buy from local and regional growers and continue your support of local farmers even when you eat out!  If your favorite restaurant isn't sourcing local, ask your waiter if any ingredients are local!  Once restaurant owners know their customers are beginning to request such items, change becomes much easier!
10.  Frequent Locally-Owned Food Producers.
One of the benefits of buying local food is keeping your dollar in the local economy, and the same reasoning goes for supporting locally-owned producers such as bakeries, butchers, and coffee roasters for foods you don't produce at home or which aren't grown locally.

Resources for Consumers

Organically Speaking - Figure out what labels really mean!
Why Buy Local?
Buy Fresh Buy Local - Riverbend (Cedar, Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque, Jackson, and Jones Counties)
Buy Fresh Buy Local Directory 2012

Recipe of the Month: Mini Buy Fresh Buy Local Quiches

This recipe was developed by Hy-Vee chef Patrick Hanniford and was tested at our first Seasonal Cooking workshop in March!  This recipe received great feedback and I must admit I've made it several times since the workshop!  A very versatile and easy recipe!

1 tsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
4 oz Mushrooms, sliced**
4 oz leeks, diced**
4 oz spinach, thinly sliced
4 oz red pepper
1/4 cup scallions, sliced
1/4 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup Morel & Leek Jack Cheese, shredded (Richfield, WI)
1/4 cup Havarti Cheese, shredded (Roth kase - Monroe, WI)
1/4 cupe Parmesan cheese, shredded (BelGioioso - Denmark, WI)
1 Tb each fresh Mariposa Herbs (Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Rosemary)
5 Eggs
3 Egg Whites
1 cup Milk 
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 325F.  Coat a nonstick muffin tin with cooking spray.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil to the pan.  Add mushrooms, leeks, red pepper, spinach and cook, stirring often for 5-7 minutes.  Transfer to the bowl and let cool for 5 minutes.  Stir in scallions, cheese, garlic and herbs.  
3.  Whisk eggs, egg whites and milk in a medium bowl.  Divide the egg mixture evenly among the prepared muffin cups.  Sprinkl a heaping tablespoon of the mixture into each cup.  Top wiht cheese and bake.
4.  Bake until the tops are just beginning to brown, ~25 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Place a rack on top of the pan, flip it over and turn the quiches out onto the rack.  Turn upright and let cool completely.  
Dubuque County has a vibrant community of farmers, consumers, institutions and agencies dedicated to promoting the use of local foods.  From restaurants featuring locally-produced foods to Iowa's oldest farmers' market, we have many resources for people interested in the nutritional, environmental and economic benefits of using more food produced right here in our region.  We promote resources, partners and programs that will support the further growth of our local foods community.  Please contact us if you would like to connect us with other programs or resources.

For more information about local foods in the Dubuque region, please contact Regional Foods Coordinator Brittany Bethel:  bbethel@iastate.edu or 563-583-6496.

Farmers Markets and Local Food Stores

Dubuque Farmers' Market (May - October)
Dubuque Winter Farmers' Market (November - April)
Dyersville Area Farmers' Market
Manchester Farmers' Market
Maquoketa Farmers' Market
Platteville WI Farmers' Market (May - October)
Dubuque Food Co-op
Dubuque Food Store
Driftless Market

Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities:  Connecting Local Food Producers with Institutions in Dubuque

Throughout the 2011-2012 academic year, students from the University of Iowa’s School of Urban and Regional Planning partnered with the City of Dubuque to undertake a variety of planning projects that would help the city become more sustainable as a part of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities. One of these projects dealt with local foods in the region and students partnered with the Iowa State University Dubuque County Outreach and Extension Office to determine the opportunities and challenges for local collegiate institutions to begin providing locally produced products in their dining services.
This Local Food Team (LFT) performed background research and conducted expert interviews with individuals knowledgeable in the local food systems as well as those from other universities that had successfully developed a local food program. “Best practices” research from other successful local food programs was then used to develop a survey distributed to local producers around the Dubuque area to determine overall interest in selling to institutions and what barriers and challenges they saw in successfully partnering with the institutions. The Best Practices research also determined that the most successful collegiate local food programs began with building strong relationships between dining services coordinators and the producer providing the local product. This led to the organization of a networking event in which dining services coordinators and chefs from each of Dubuque’s three colleges and universities would have the opportunity to start developing positive relationships with local producer’s interest in selling their products to them.
Overall, the product deliverables included an action plan that provides a step-by-step guide for local institutions interested in creating a local food program as well as to producers interesting in selling more of their products to institutions. This plan also includes a guide to local food handling and safety regulations as well as information on educational resources and funding opportunities for all stakeholders. This plan also provides recommendations on how county and city governments, the local extension office and the general public can continue to promote and increase the consumption of locally produced products.
Other deliverables include marketing material to help raise awareness for local foods in the community and a local food resource map which includes the locations of food advocacy groups, producer cooperatives, and organization that support sustainable agriculture. All of these items were delivered to both the City of Dubuque and the Dubuque County Extension office for future use. These materials are not only available to institutions of higher education but can be used by any larger institution interested in developing a local food program.
Institutional Local Food Program Action Plan and Guide
Local Foods resource map
Read full report

Farmers' Market Vendor Conference materials

Click here to download the PowerPoint slides used by our presenters at the Farmers' Market Vendor Conference on Saturday, February 25, 2012:
Vendor Marketing & Merchandising by Andy Larson
Serving and Selling: Food Safety First! by Dr. Angela Laury
You will need Adobe Reader to view these presentations.  The files are fairly large, so please be patient as they download.
Presenter contact information:
Andy Larson

(515) 294-5875
Dr. Angela Laury

(515) 294-0868
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