Research and Previous Projects

Food Systems Projects & Research

Resilient Food Systems

The Food Systems team partnered with local organizations in five place-based communities to study the impact of climactic events and COVID-19. The locations include counties, regions, and territories across the United States. The intent of this research is to understand the level of resilience each community has within their food system. Each report details findings related to community values, interest in local and regional foods and purchasing practices, impacts from COVID and climactic events, and identified priorities for increasing resilience.

Following, each community will work toward a priority area, and our team will evaluate the impact of the project.

View each community's final report and research brief on

Resilient Food Systems

Scaling Up Processing

Scaling Specialty Crop Processing: Development of toolkit, business tools, and prototypes

A multi-disciplinary team at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has on-going work providing technical assistance to Iowans involved in the local foods system, providing support and networking to assist small local food producers providing local foods to consumers.  Typically, these producers lack the facility and funding to develop high impact processing of their product. This project revealed gaps and the potential for the ISU team to collaborate with Iowa local food producers to develop and implement technical assistance resources for those scaling specialty crop processing into their business operations. 

This project led to the understanding of:

  • Existing conditions and site categories
  • Understanding of common needs amongst food producers and businesses
  • Identification of basic processing equipment and interior needs as well as layout and logistics
  • Desire for business skills and scaling-up opportunities from financial perspectives
  • Identification of food safety considerations, regulations and licensing

The full toolkit (offered in English, Swahili, and Spanish) and more info can be found on

Scaling Up Processing Toolkit

Food Systems Core Competencies Project (2020)

Food Systems Core Competencies Project Summary (USDA AMS; PDF, 2 pp)

Food System Core Competency Project Report (CFS team; PDF, 142 pp)

Example Competency-Based Learning Objective Matrix (CFS team; Excel spreadsheet)

Food Systems Practitioner and Educational Resource Database

Food Systems Core Competency presentation | NACDEP 2020
(YouTube video, 1:11:29)

Fort Dodge Farmers Market Assessment (2022)

Linn County Food Rescue Project (2020)

Project & Research Archive

 Projects and research completed prior to 2020.

Lutheran Services in Iowa Global Greens Program (2019)

Incubator Farm Case Studies

Pleasant Hill (2016-2019)
Cass County (2015-2018)
Edible Landscape and Community Garden: Atlantic Public Gardens Food Recovery: Cass County Food Waste Survey and Event


Dubuque Eats Well (2015-2018)


Edible Landscape: Bee Branch Food Forest Incubator Farm: Sinsinawa Mound Collaborative Farm Food Access: Double Up Food Bucks


North Iowa Food Coalition (2015-2018)