Local Foods Connection Blog

Local foods, hunger relief, sustainable agriculture

Greetings from Seattle, WA! May 31, 2008

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Greetings everyone! As you may have noticed by now, we try to post something at least once per week to the LFC blog. As you also may have noticed, I’m a few days late. I’ve been in Seattle for the last week with spotty internet access at best, but I’m back now in Iowa City. Home sweet home!

And while I’m thrilled to be back home, I have to admit that Seattle is a neat city and a true delight for any food lover. Pike Place Market was jammed with local produce, river salmon, and beautiful flowers.

teardrop tomato

Pike Place Produce

Artisanal cheese abounded; one of our favorite stops was Beecher’s Handmade Cheese on the Market. Their flagship cheese was incredible, as was the Rogue Creamery’s Crater Lake Blue that they carry. Aside from the great cheese, Beecher’s had some of the friendliest staff I’ve ever encountered!

Beecher\'s Cheese

Seattle was also full of delicious local brews, including this Snoqualmie Falls Pale Ale:

Snoqualmie beer

Besides all of the delicious food, I was amazed at Seattle’s interest – more generally – in sustainability. Residents of the city packed the Pike Place Market, local coffee shops, and local breweries. The streets were filled with bicycles during rush hour. A friend and new-Seattle resident told me that the city actually picks up compost and fines residents (!!!) for improperly sorting their recyclables. Safeco Field, where the Mariners play, even has compostable beer cups!

compostable beer cup

So enjoy this virtual vacation and keep your eyes out for an Iowa-based post in the next few days!


LFC Receives an Iowa City CDBG Grant! May 20, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 5:11 pm
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For the second straight year, the City of Iowa City has recognized Local Foods Connection with a coveted Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), money that is provided to the city from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to support organizations that address the needs of lower income citizens. While LFC received a $2,474 award for fiscal year 2007/08, we received $1500 for 2008/09 due to a dwindling pool of available funds. The award will go to partially fund the full time (plus!) work of Executive Director Laura Dowd.

We’re thrilled to have been recognized by the city during such a competitive grant cycle. After submitting our application, a Housing and Community Development Commission held public meetings to review all of the applications and then made recommendations to the Iowa City Council. The City Council decided to fund the proposal from LFC, along with several large housing projects, the Economic Development Fund, and several other public facilities and public services projects, including Arc of Southeast Iowa, MECCA, Extend the Dream Foundation, and the Free Medical Clinic. We’re grateful to have been included in such impressive company.

Local Foods Connection was awarded this money on the grounds that, in keeping with the goals of CITY STEPS (the City’s consolidated plan), LFC will “promote a continuum of care within the community that includes jobs, housing and services for low-moderate income persons.” While Local Foods Connection works with low-moderate income individuals well beyond the borders of Iowa City, the CDBG funds were awarded based on our impact directly within the Iowa City community. While Local Foods Connection began its life serving one family in 1999, that number has skyrocketed to 45 clients and agencies in 6 cities in 2007, including 20 Iowa City families. In 2009, we hope to serve 25 Iowa City families and 6 Iowa City agencies, including DVIP, Free Medical Clinic, HACAP Headstart, Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County, Shelter House, and STAR Program.

Local Foods Connection helps social service agencies within Iowa City’s continuum of care assist approximately 258 individuals to establish a more suitable living environment for themselves by providing them with fresh, healthy foods and nutrition education. With increases in both their health and their ability to care for themselves, these individuals will have a better chance to become successful, independent members of the community. No other agency in Iowa City buys large quantities of fresh, seasonal produce items from area farmers and donates them to low-moderate income families. In addition, no other agency provides an incentive plan to its clients for participating in nutrition education.

We think that we provide an important service to the Iowa City community; thank you to the City of Iowa City for agreeing with us!


Local Foods Connection Featured on EcoSpace

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 12:32 pm

Read about our work on EcoSpace Conscious Community, “a space to connect, express, debate, exchange information, learn from and co-ordinate action with like minded folks; plus pick up valuable tips and advice on earth friendly products and living!”

Yay LFC!



Chicago’s Green City Market Turns 10! May 17, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 1:18 pm
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I’m splitting my time between Iowa City and Chicago this summer, so I rode my bike over to the opening weekend of Chicago’s Green City Market this morning. The kickoff was billed as a Rally for Sustainable Agriculture, but what that really meant was a 10th birthday party for the Market, complete with an emcee, a speech from Frontera Grill chef Rick Bayless, and a ceremonial organic rhubarb cake cut by none other than Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Chef Bayless

[Chef Rick Bayless greets his adoring fans.]

Mandel and Daley with Cake.

[Green City Market founder Abby Mandel and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley cut Green City Market’s birthday cake.]

Rhubarb Cake

[Organic rhubarb birthday cake was served to all the attendees.]

It was great to see so many people out on an early Saturday morning, talking with local farmers and sampling food from the many vendors. The children from the Market’s Sprouts for Kids Program added a little color to the gathering with their bright chef hats.


[Kids from the Sprouts for Kids program at the Market.]

Despite – or perhaps because of – the turnout, though, I was reminded that Chicago’s low income residents don’t seem to be well-represented at the market. To the best of my knowledge, the only farmers’ market in Chicago to accept food stamps is still the Logan Square Farmer’s Market, which began accepting food stamps for payment in Summer 2007.

Two groups at the Green City Market, though, are working against this elision of low-income Chicagoans at the market: Growing Power and Growing Home. Milwaukee- and Chicago-based Growing Power “inspires communities to build sustainable food systems that are equitable and ecologically sound, creating a just world, one food-secure community at a time,” while Chicago- and Marseilles-based Growing Home‘s mission is “to provide job training and create employment opportunities for homeless and low-income people in Chicago within the context of a non-profit organic agriculture business.” Their produce is also gorgeous!

Growing Power Produce

[Green, green, and more green on display at the Growing Power table.]

Keep up the good work!


It’s (STILL) Farm Bill Time… May 13, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 4:35 pm
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Many of you have likely been following the Farm Bill debate over the past many months. What you may not know, however, is that last week the House and Senate Agriculture Conferees announced that they had reached an agreement on the 2008 Farm Bill; the 2008 Farm Bill will likely be voted on later this week in the House and Senate. While the majority of Senators and Representatives seem poised to support the new bill, the 2008 Farm Bill can still be vetoed by President Bush if it does not pass with a two-thirds majority in Congress.

The version of the 2008 Farm Bill agreed upon by the House and Senate Conferees looks to include gains for sustainable agriculture. In particular, the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture reports that the current version of the Bill will support funding for organic certification, conversion, and data collection, as well as focusing on conservation programs, renewable energy, country of origin labeling, and increased support for local and community food systems.

Some of these initiatives forebode well for the work of Local Foods Connection. The National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture reports that the Community Food Project program will have $50 million divided over the next ten years to provide matching grants to organizations like Local Foods Connection who work on issues of food security and hunger. Local farmers are also expected to get a boost from a program that will offer incentives for schools to purchase local produce.

The Farm Bill isn’t only for farmers. This policy document will shape our food system for years to come. Get informed and get involved. Call your Senators and Representatives to learn more and to get involved. The work of LFC and the food that we eat is at stake.

You can read the text of the current Farm Bill here. Click here for your representative’s contact info and here for your senators’.


The Iowa City Farmers Market is Underway! May 6, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 1:35 pm
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Nothing beats the last few days of heat and sun to remind us that summer is coming. I’ve been running over to Hickory Hill Park the past few mornings and it’s a delight to see so many people out in their yards and gardens, getting the ground ready for this summer’s vegetables and plants. I don’t know about you, but I definitely have a case of spring/summer fever. And I can’t think of a better way to indulge that fever than a trip to the Iowa City Farmers Market for some fresh, delicious, local food!

Iowa City Farmers Market Logo

The 2008 Farmers Market season kicked off this past Saturday and continues on Wednesdays from 5.30-7.30pm and Saturdays from 7.30-11.30am until the end of October at the Chauncey Swan parking ramp on Washington St.

Be sure to shop for some early season delights like asparagus and greens from our awesome LFC farmers. In June, July, and August you can look forward to shopping along to live music on Wednesdays and Saturdays from the likes of Bob & Kristie Black, Kalimbaman, and many more great acts. For a full schedule of this summer’s music acts, click here. Don’t miss monthly chef demonstrations, Kids Day, and Taste of Market either. For the full events schedule, click here.

Don’t forget that Cedar Rapids has their own farmers markets, too. For locations, click here.

Get ready for some great food! We hope to see you out at the market.


Volunteer and Sponsor of the Week! May 5, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 9:56 am
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Volunteer of the Week: Dr. Stephanie Nomura from the Center for Fit Families at Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids. Dr. Nomura is helping LFC’s expansion into CR by introducing us to new clients.

Sponsor of the Week: Central Iowa Power Cooperative in Cedar Rapids. CIPCO made its first donation to LFC.

Thank you for contributing to the work of LFC!