The first-ever Community Food Systems + Farm to School and Early Care Conference will be held June 15–17 in Waukee. With the theme “Growing a Culture of Celebration,” this collaborative conference will engage, support, and inspire individuals, organizations, and business in all areas related to food systems and farm-to-school and early-care education.
The conference is hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Food Systems team, which is comprised of the Community Food Systems Program and the Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition.
The event kicks off with a day focused on community food systems, with local and regional food-systems practitioners participating in plenaries, breakout sessions, and vendor exhibits. The second day will celebrate local food through various tours of local farms and food businesses in the Greater Des Moines Area, ending with a reception at a local organic produce farm. Jan Libbey, coordinator of the Iowa Food Systems Coalition, will speak about the Iowa Local Food Plan. The final day will highlight farm to school and early care and connect local partners through various sessions, interactive activities, and networking. On June 15 and 17, fruit and vegetable processing using a mobile cart will be demonstrated and a scaled model of a proposed processing truck trailer will be available for attendees to explore the potential types of larger-scale mobile processing (see an article about the mobile food-processing units).
While this is the first joint conference, each individual event has a rich history. The Community Food Systems Annual Event began in 2015 with the intent of lifting up best practices around the nation in all areas of community food systems. This annual gathering offered an opportunity for national and statewide partners to promote their work, network, and think collaboratively for creative projects and research. The Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Annual Conference began in 2018 with the goal of supporting and inspiring local partners or individuals interested in implementing farm to school and early care education in their communities and organizations throughout Iowa.
This conference is open to the public, with early-bird registration through April 30 and regular registration May 1–June 1. Registration is online (bit.ly/cfs-f2ec-register), along with details on scholarship, vendor, and sponsor opportunities (bit.ly/cfs-f2ec-conference). For more information, contact Bre Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.