Food Systems Certifications

Nationally recognized certification programs that teach foundational competencies and skills critical for successful community food systems development for individual practitioners and groups.


Food Systems encompass an array of complex practices, businesses, and organizations. Individuals involved in connecting the various pieces support numerous efforts related to local and regional food systems across the country. We developed our community food systems process in 2013 through a Leopold Center Grant. In 2017, we received a grant to launch the program into national certification opportunity. Our food systems certifications provide individual skill development and community processes for professional development to support in these efforts.   

The Local Food Leader (LFL) Certification was developed in Iowa in 2016 as a professional development opportunity for local food coordinators across the state. In 2017, LFL was launched nationally. The Community Food Systems (CFS) Certification was launched nationally in 2017 as a strategic planning process for food systems development based on the Community Food Systems program that was developed in 2013. 

Certifications and Courses

Learn more about each of our certification and course offerings, including format, fees, and curriculum, below.

Local Food Leader (LFL) Certification teaches foundational competencies critical for successful food systems development. This certification is intended for practitioners that are beginning their work in food systems and individuals that are wanting to be more engaged in their local food system. Participants will build skills related to common language, equity in the food system, facilitating, creating plans of work, and evaluation of programs and projects.

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Resilient Food Systems

Resilient Food Systems (RFS) Certification teaches a facilitated process to increase capacity for food systems practitioners developing resilience in their community food system. This certification is intended for educators, researchers, and practitioners facilitating coalitions interested in using this process as a community development tool. Participants will build skills for integrating strategic planning strategies to develop vision, mission, and values; assess existing conditions; determine priority projects; and work toward implementing programs. 

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Our food systems short courses focus on individual skill-building and learning. We offer the following courses:

  • Mapping 101
  • Intro to Feasibility Studies
  • Intro to Economic Development
  • Intro to Design Thinking

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Intercultural Development Inventory® (IDI®) assesses individuals' and groups’ mindset towards cultural differences and similarities. IDI is offered alone, or in tandem, as an option, with Local Food Leader and Resilient Food Systems certifications. The IDI training provides a snapshot of individuals' or groups’ approach to cultural differences and commonalities, and includes an individual assessment, profile report, and one-on-one debrief to develop an individual development plan.

In addition to individual participation in IDI, groups can also participate together and receive an aggregated report and action planning session to further develop their intercultural competence into group work.

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For more information and pricing for individuals and groups, contact:

Current Cohorts

Learn more and register for our current certifications cohorts.

Virtual Local Food Leader begins June 5. Register by May 29. 

Not Sure Where to Start?

Coming Soon!

Not sure which certification or short course is right for you? This brief self-assessment tool will help you identify the best certification or short course, and format. 

If you're not satisfied with your result, we're here to help! Just reach out to Kaley Hohenshell for more info and recommendations.


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