Registration Open for Community Food Systems and Farm to School and Early Care Conference

Unique opportunity to discuss food systems and farm to school and early care

April 17, 2023, 8:57 am | Breanna Miller

WAUKEE, Iowa – The Community Food Systems Program and the Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, is hosting the first-ever Community Food Systems + Farm to School and Early Care Conference, June 15-17, in Waukee. This collaborative, three-day event will engage, support and inspire individuals, organizations and business in all areas of the food system, and will emphasize the importance of community food systems, especially in schools and early care.

Community food systems conference graphic.The conference is open to the public. Participants can attend the full three-day conference or may select individual days to attend. Early bird registration is open through April 30, and regular rates will begin May 1 and close June 1. Register at

“This conference is a great opportunity for those working in or interested in food systems or farm to school to come together and celebrate all the amazing work happening throughout the state and the nation,” said Katie Hohenshell, Food Systems Program Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The conference theme is Growing a Culture of Celebration, and celebrates local foods, learning and collaboration. Topics will include:

  • Community Food Systems, Thursday, June 15.
  • Local farms, local food businesses and local food, Friday, June 16.
  • Farm to School and Early Care, Saturday, June 17.

The first day, June 15, will focus on Community Food Systems. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from local and regional food systems practitioners through plenaries, breakout sessions and vendor exhibits. Multiple networking opportunities will occur throughout the day to further connect attendees, sponsors and speakers.

Thursday will also feature a keynote panel of food practitioners from three local organizations: Aubrey Alvarez, executive director of ­­Eat Greater Des Moines; Giselle Bruskewitz, program director, Iowa Valley Resource Conservation & Development; and Jan Libbey, Iowa Food System Coalition coordinator.

“This panel will provide insight into what is going on in food systems throughout the state, and how folks can get involved and bring home ideas and resources for their own community,” said Megan Kemp, education specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

The second day, June 16, will celebrate local food and consist of several tours of local farms and food businesses in the Greater Des Moines Area. The day will end at Grade A Gardens, a local organic produce farm in Earlham, to connect over local food and drink at an evening reception. Attendees will hear from a local food champion, Jan Libbey, on the Iowa Local Food Plan.

The final day, June 17, will focus on Farm to School and Early Care, and connecting with local partners through keynotes, breakout sessions, interactive activities and networking space.

Keynote speakers include Barb Fogarty, Oelwein Community Schools counselor, who will discuss Farm to School and Early Care, with a focus on social emotional learning.

Scholarships will be available to provide opportunities for all community members to attend and offset the cost of registration and lodging. Applications can be submitted through Monday, May 1, at

Vendor and sponsor opportunities are also available. One-day and two-day vendor options allow promotion of your organization or business during conference exhibitions. Sponsor options range from Level 1 to Level 4 with varying benefits, including registration access, vending space and promotion throughout the three-day conference. Interested organizations and businesses can register as a vendor or sponsor through registration at

For more details, visit To ask questions, contact Bre Miller at

Shareable photo: Graphic for the upcoming Community Food Systems + Farm to School and Early Care Conference.

About the Authors: