Early Bird Registration Now Open for the Community Food Systems + Farm to School and Early Care Conference

Improve your local foods knowledge and network with providers at annual conference

April 1, 2024, 2:37 pm | Breanna Miller

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Community Food Systems Program and the Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Farm, Food and Enterprise Development encourage food systems practitioners, K-12 school district staff, and early care and education providers to register for the Community Food Systems + Farm to School and Early Care Conference, June 13-14 in Iowa City.

This annual event celebrates local food, collaboration and cross-sector partnerships in all areas of the food system and farm to school and early care. The conference theme, "Rooted in Community: Growing Partnerships for Sustainable Food Systems," will engage and inspire individuals, organizations and businesses through interactive learning. Community dinner garden event.

The conference is open to the public. The planning committee encourages registering for the full, two-day conference, but also welcomes individuals to attend individual days or components. Early bird registration is open through April 15, and regular rates will begin April 16 and close May 31. For full details and fees and to register, visit the conference webpage.

The conference will begin on Thursday, June 13, at Johnson County Historic Poor Farm with a pre-conference day, beginning with Mary Swander, award-winning author of "Squatters on Red Earth," a drama about a peaceful encounter in the midst of the U.S. white settler land grab. This one-man play explores the positive relationship that the Amana Colonies have had with the Meskwaki Indigenous people. Swander will conclude the session with a guided discussion, connecting the main themes of the play to current agricultural and food systems. The day will continue with farm tours, including Camp Creek Organic Produce, a 40-acre organic farm that specializes in growing and distributing food all over the state of Iowa. The second tour will be at Johnson County Historic Poor Farm, where participants will connect with the land by learning about the local history of the farm and exploring existing programs.

The pre-conference day will conclude by celebrating local foods and partnerships over a community dinner, hosted at the Johnson County Historic Poor Farm. The evening program will feature the Iowa Food System Coalition that will share priorities of the Iowa Food System Plan, and highlight the recipients of the 2024 Golden Root Award, hosted by the Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition and the Iowa Department of Education. Individuals can register to attend the full pre-conference day or attend just the Community Dinner in the evening.

“This pre-conference day (Thursday) provides a unique opportunity for attendees to fully immerse themselves in the land, history and production practices in Iowa,” said Bre Miller, communications specialist with the ISU Extension and Outreach food systems team. "Participants will end the day feeling energized, with new connections and ideas for Iowa food systems.”

Friday, June 14, will be the main conference day, with sessions held at Graduate Iowa City, a boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown Iowa City. There will be two plenary sessions throughout the day; one will feature JayJay Goodvin, interim executive director of Historic Route 20-Iowa and chief explorer at The Iowa Gallivant. Goodvin is an Iowa native who has been cooking and traveling his way through the state. He shares his travels and experiences in The Iowa Gallivant, a blog dedicated to rediscovering the charm of local food and businesses throughout the Midwest and the country. 

Throughout the day, attendees will have the opportunity to select from 18 breakout sessions, led by practitioners and providers from across Iowa. Topics will include food systems, early care education, local food procurement, food system grant opportunities and community engagement. The day will conclude with Bite-Size (15-minute) sessions that will further highlight projects and research happening in food systems and farm to school and early care around the state.

A full agenda can be viewed on the conference webpage.

Sponsor opportunities are also available, ranging from Level 1 to Level 4 with varying benefits, including registration access, exhibitor space and promotion throughout the conference. All details and sponsor registration can be found by signing in at bit.ly/cfs-f2sec-sponsor. Organizations and businesses can register as an exhibitor separately. All exhibitors will be stationed on Friday, June 14, at the Graduate Hotel in Iowa City.

Conference sponsors include:

For full conference details, visit bit.ly/cfs-f2sec-conference or contact Bre Miller at millerb@iastate.edu with questions or inquiries.

Shareable photo: Community dinner garden event.

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