Community Food Systems Conference to Feature Educational and Networking Opportunities

Nine breakout sessions and two pre-conference events all part of the 2020 agenda

December 12, 2019, 1:59 pm | Courtney Long

community food systems conference.AMES, Iowa – Iowans and those from other states who want to learn the latest in community food systems should consider attending the annual Community Food Systems Conference Jan. 9-10 in West Des Moines.

This year’s theme is “Food Entrepreneurship and Inclusive Partnerships.” The conference is a joint program of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Farm, Food and Enterprise Development Program and Community and Economic Development Program.

The agenda includes nine breakout sessions on topics related to specialty crop and garden production, business development, farm to school, food systems and United States Department of Agriculture programming.

Pre-conference workshops

Two pre-conference workshops will be held Jan. 9: Local Food Leader and Business Model Canvas.

Local Food Leader is an individual skill development program for beginning local food practitioners and local food supporters. Following the workshop, attendees can participate in a four-module online course to receive a certification. County extension staff should find the Local Food Leader workshop helpful in any local food, farm to school, or similar work they do.

The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management tool created to give entrepreneurs a visual, open-source look at the nine major parameters of their business plan.

Keynote presentations

Keynote presentations will be held Jan. 10, with a morning discussion on farm to school, presented by Chelsea Krist, Farm, Food and Enterprise Development coordinator with ISU Extension and Outreach. At lunch, a representative from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service will give an overview of available ag marketing services and updates on a recent cooperative agreement to identify needed core competencies for practitioners working in food systems.

Courtney Long, food systems program coordinator with FFED at ISU Extension and Outreach, said there will be multiple networking opportunities, including an evening social on Jan. 9 from 5-7 p.m., poster session presentations and exhibitor displays.

“With all of the networking and partnership related to this year’s theme, we’re trying to share about the connections between food production, food business and partnership,” she said.

Registration details

Registration is $75 for the Jan. 10 event, and $30 for the Local Food Leader workshop. There is no fee for the Business Model Canvas workshop. A limited number of scholarships are available to help offset the cost of registration. Contact Courtney Long at to apply. Learn more about presentations and register on the event webpage.

Hotel rooms at a discounted rate are available at the West Des Moines Marriott through December 18. There is still time to sponsor. Exhibit space is available through Dec. 20 on a first-come, first-served basis.


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