Food Systems

Our Food Systems Team works within both Agriculture and Natural Resources and Community and Economic Development Extension. We support the development of thriving local food systems statewide, in partnership with county extension staff and many other collaborators. 

Our clients: Community coalitions, educators, non-profits, county extension staff, farm and food businesses

Our goals:  

  • Elevate equity in the food system through practice and dialogue 
  • Support the growth of viable farm and food businesses 
  • Increase access to nutritious and culturally relevant foods 
  • Support food systems communities of practice and leadership opportunities   

We value:

  • Equity by working to maintain truthful and transparent communication and interpretation with partners and communities about who we are and our work, including acknowledgement of historical systems of oppression in agriculture and education. 
  • Systems Thinking by seeking connections between intersecting food system sectors, community assets and resources to enhance our food system.   
  • Collective Action by centering opportunities for collaborative work in projects and partnerships, with the intention of long-term systems change. 
  • Responsive Education by supporting educational opportunities that prioritize culturally relevant, community-owned information, in response to unique contexts and community needs.  
  • Relationships + Networking by building authentic, respectful relationships with partners for shared understanding and trust. 

Our services:

  1. Community Food Systems Program (formerly Ag Urbanism)
  • Coalition development: We provide review and compilation of a business feasibility study for startups, new product development, or businesses wanting to diversify into another product or marketplace.
  • Community food system assessment: Our team evaluates the existing conditions of the community-based food system sectors and how those aspects relate to community food system program values.
  • Public input sessions: We host a meeting to hear from residents about what food system changes they would like to see in their community. Our creative session includes visual aids and several survey questions.
  • Technical assistance: Communities may have already decided on projects that fit with their coalition’s values and needs. In partnership with the Iowa State University Community Design Lab, the Community Food Systems Program offers design and technical assistance for projects ranging from market and brand promotion to landscape or building assessment and schematic design.

2. Certification Courses

We offer three certification programs, currently offered entirely in a virtual format. Find more detailed descriptions of each program on this page, under the Certifications tab. Learn more in the video at right.

  • Local Food Leader provides individual skill development for engagement in food systems.
  • Community Food Systems teaches a strategic process for design and development of food systems.
  • Mapping 101 teaches how to create maps for decision making and building new skills in QGIS for data and map development.

3. Farm to School/Farm to Institution

  • Local food procurement: Our team assists early childhood and K-12 food service directors in identifying and sourcing locally grown food for their meal programs. Support includes training in food safety, meal planning, and more.
  • School gardens and classroom activities: In partnership with FoodCorps Iowa and the National Farm to School Network, we work with early childhood and K-12 educators across the state to develop classroom and gardening activities to encourage students to develop healthy eating habits.
  • Iowa CSA Directory and Iowa Food Hub Directory: Our staff maintains the only statewide directory of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and a directory of food hubs operating in Iowa.

CFS two-page flyer

courtney long

Our Food Systems Team is led by Courtney Long, (515) 460-3227.

Other team members include: Kaley Hohenshell and Bre Miller (community food systems); Teresa Wiemerslage; Chelsea Krist; and Krista Smith (farm to school/farm to institution); Lisa Bates (Iowa Retail Initiative, interior design strategies); and Shannon Coleman (food safety, value-added).