Local Foods Connection Blog

Local foods, hunger relief, sustainable agriculture

Women Land & Legacy of Jackson County April 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 9:55 pm
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Subject: Women Land & Legacy presents An Estate Planning Workshop
April 23rd

Women, Land, and Legacy of Jackson County will be hosting a very popular Estate Planning Workshop on Thursday, April 23, 2009, at the Comfort Inn in Maquoketa. The event will begin at 5:00 p.m. with the presentation “Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?” by Jackson County Extension Director, Amber Matthiesen. Ms. Matthiesen’s presentation will discuss the inheritance of personal property.

From 6:00 to 7:00 attendees will have the opportunity to visit with local estate and financial planners to learn what services are available in the area.

From 7:00 to 9:00 there will be an informative talk given by the regionally-renowned speaker, Steve Bohr, of Farm Financial Services, Inc. in Cedar Rapids. Mr. Bohr’s talk will focus on what steps farm families can take to ensure a profitable future for the next generation.

Local financial and estate planners wishing to set up a booth at the event may do so by calling the Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District at 563-652-2337 ext. 3 to reserve a spot for a booth. There will be a $10 fee for all vendors.

The event is free and open to the public. This is a very popular workshop and those wishing to attend should call the Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District at 563-652-2337 ext. 3 by Tuesday, April 21, to reserve a spot. Light refreshments will be served. ********************************************************************
Thanks for your help in getting the word out about this popular workshop! Sincerely,
Courtney Myers
603 E Platt St.
Maquoketa, IA 52060
563-652-2337 x3


MORE volunteer opportunities! April 4, 2009

Local Foods Connection and Friends of the Iowa City Farmers Market Need You!

1. Volunteer to Read a Book or Watch a Movie

Local Foods Connection offers its clients opportunities to participate in educational activities to learn more about nutrition, food and farming. The activities in which our clients can participate include:

  • visit a farm
  • keep a two-week food journal
  • visit a farmers market
  • grow a plant in a garden or flower pot
  • volunteer in the community
  • send a thank you card to a farmer
  • take a cooking class
  • share a recipe
  • share their food with a neighbor or friend
  • create art
  • read books and watch movies

For every activity clients complete, they earn points. With those points they can shop in our small kitchenware store. Items in our inventory include pots and pans, canning equipment, strainers, serving utensils, knives and cutting boards.

If a client reads a book or watches a movie, she has a choice to either write a review or take a quiz. We are looking for volunteers to read books and watch movies off of our recommended reading list and write a quiz. Some book titles are:

  • Four titles by Dr. Andrew Weil: Natural Health, Natural Medicine. Eating Well for Optimum Health. The Healthy Kitchen. Healthy Aging.
  • By Dr. Mehmet Oz: You: The Owners Manual
  • By Rochelle Davis & David Joachim: Fresh Choices: More Than 100 Easy Recipes for Pure Food When You Can’t Buy 100% Organic
  • By Peter Menzel: Hungry Planet: What the World Eats
  • By Joan Dye Gussow: This Organic Life
  • By Barbara Kingsolver: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Some movie titles are:

  • By Cynthia Vagnetti: Voice of Iowa Farm Women
  • By Taggart Siegel: The Real Dirt on Farmer John
  • By: Chris Beford: The Organic Opportunity
  • By The Iowa Learning Farm: Conservation DVD set
  • By Morgan Spurlock: Supersize Me
  • By Chris Bedford: What Will We Eat
  • By Chris Bedford: Food For the Future

More instructions will be given to volunteers when they contact us via email.

2. From Meggan Fisher: The Friends of the Iowa City Farmers Market (FFM) are currently planning a “Rumpus Fun-Raiser” Mercer Aquatic Center, April 17th from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.to benefit the Iowa City Farmers Market Kids Day (September 12th). This kid-centered event will include pizza; bake sale; educational stations on farming, nutrition, and conservation; bounce house (and other toys); live music; and a mini-market. Kids Day was a huge hit with the community last year and brought in lots of good business for our vendors. The message was clear that everyone wanted to see Kids Day happen again this year. We’d like to accommodate the increased crowd and bring in additional features. To do that, we’ll need to raise some more money.

We have a lot of work to do in the next couple of weeks to make this happen. I would like to invite you to join the new “Friends of the Market,” a volunteer pool for the Iowa City Farmers Market. There are lots of little jobs to do, almost all of which can be done on your own time. If you are interested in helping us out, please contact Meggan Fisher. Please spread the word about this event and attend with your friends and family.

I would also like to encourage everyone to consider joining the FFM for the 2009 market season. Below is a list of the activities we foresee the FFM doing. If you are interested in being kept up to date on the activities of this group, please respond to be added to my email distribution list. Although we will have periodic meetings, attendance is not requisite to join the FFM.

What will The Friends do?

  • Help plan fundraisers for the market
  • Regular promotions and advertising
  • Finding and securing sponsorship for the market
  • Monthly newsletter and weekly e-newsletter
  • Website work
  • Develop new Farmers Market cookbook, and other new merchandise
  • Assess the success of the market
  • Provide hands on assistance at the market
  • And much more!

Volunteers could choose to participate once, or volunteer regularly throughout the season. We are also looking into the possibility of transforming this group into a separate non-profit foundation. The market is so important to this community. Volunteering your time is a great way to help grow this market. I welcome general input on the direction and operation of the market. Please pass this information on to anyone else you think may have an interest in joining in the discussion.

Meggan Fisher
Email Meggan here.


Women Caring For The Land Final Meeting

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 3:46 pm
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The following is a letter from Laura Krouse announcing the final meeting of the Women Caring for the Land group.  Please join us on April 15th!
Greetings ladies,
The final (at least for now) meeting of “Women Caring for the Land” is going to be Wednesday, April 15, 6:00, at Gwen’s restaurant in Lisbon.  We had such a nice lunch there the day of the field trip, everybody wanted to meet there again.  Gwen’s is right downtown in Lisbon.  She’ll have a Mexican buffet for $8.95, fish and potato bar for $6.95, or maybe a roast beef buffet especially for us for probably $8.95, or you can order off the menu.  The food is good, and there will be plenty of visiting because we’ll all be together in the big room, but be sure to bring your reading glasses because the room is a bit dim.
We’ll meet and eat at 6:00, then start our meeting about 7:00.  Our speaker will be Margaret Smith, co-owner and operator of Ash Grove Farm, near Hampton, IA.  She and her husband raise crops and livestock, and both own and rent land using crop share leases and cash leases.  She will lead “A Conversation about Farm Leasing”, and will address what types of farm leases are available, compare cash renting with crop share leases and talk about why an owner might prefer one method over the other, go over the yearly time schedule for leases and owner/operator discussions, discuss how to express your wants and needs about your land to others, and offer ideas about where to go for additional information about farm leases.
We’ll also talk a bit about how to read your conservation plan, and if we have time, see a short conservation/water quality video that has just been released.  I’ll have all the handouts available so you can pick up anything you’ve missed, or get some information for a friend.
Hope to see you soon,

Recap: Women Caring for the Land Field Trip March 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 6:36 pm
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Caroline here.  I posted a recap of yesterday’s Women Caring for the Land field trip over at Bleeding Heartland and La Vida Locavore.  Here’s my post, but you should check out Bleeding Heartland and La Vida Locavore anyway!


On Wednesday morning, I piled into the back of a white passenger van alongside seven other women.  Four more vehicles carrying ten more women lined up to form a caravan behind us.  “I apologize in advance, ladies,” explained our guide for the day, Laura Krouse, with a smile. “You’re never going to look at this farmland the same way again!”  With that disclaimer, we rolled north out of the church parking lot in Mount Vernon to tour almost 100 miles of farmland in Johnson, Jones, and Linn Counties.

Our field trip on Wednesday, March 25th was the second gathering of Women Caring for the Land, a free McKnight Foundation conservation program coordinated by the Women, Food & Agriculture Network.  Project coordinator Laura Krouse (of Abbe Hills Farm) held a series of introductory meetings in mid-February, gathering women landowners throughout the three counties to learn more about conservation practices in agriculture.  This field trip was our chance to reunite and take what we learned in the introductory meetings out into the field.  With Laura Krouse as our instructor, we toured the countryside, keeping an eye out for the upsides (wide waterways, impressive terraces, conservation reserve program prairies, and beautiful wetlands) and downsides (deep gullies, hog confinements, and non-existent waterways) of eastern Iowa agriculture.

Women Caring for the Land is designed to give women landowners information and confidence, helping women make informed decisions about their land.  The sessions, thus far, have certainly been both informative and confidence-building.  We learned more about farming and each other as we delighted in the warmth of Susan Jutz’s hoop house at ZJ Farm in Solon and bonded over a delicious lunch at Gwen’s in Lisbon.  By the end of our field trip, several of the women in our van were pointing out the windows and shouting, “Deep gully!”  or “Great waterway!”  Even more important, they (and I) were peppering Laura with all kinds of questions about waterways, drain tiles, and contouring, among other things.

When we parted for the day, we did so with the promise that we would see each other again at the concluding meeting on April 15th.  While I’m not a landowner or a native-born Iowan, I’ve been tagging along as a woman interested in farming and conservation, and I’m far from disappointed.  I’m grateful to the women of Women Caring for the Land for teaching me a great deal about farming, women, conservation, and Iowa.  And I look forward to seeing them again on April 15th!


Volunteer Opportunities with LFC March 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 11:30 am
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Volunteer for Local Foods Connection
to RSVP for any of these activities, email us!
1. Long Term Commitment Opportunities
A. Become a Family Friend
B. Food Delivery
C. Manage Local Foods Connection’s Calendar

2. Short Term Commitment Opportunities
A. Write For Our Education Program
B. Farm Work Days

3. Other Opportunities

**1. Long Term Commitments***

A. Become a Family Friend

6 month commitment – 2 hours/month
May to October
Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines
Attend a training session; work from home

You will be assigned one of our clients to call every two weeks. During the phone conversation, you will:

-ask the client if she picked up her food the past two weeks
-if she has any questions about the produce in her share box
-remind her to visit a farm at least once during the season
-ask if she is participating in any of our educational activities and if she needs help completing a project.

Background Information:  Each client family is required to pickup their box of produce every week.  If they are unable to, they are asked to let us know and possibly to arrange to get their box at another time. If a client misses two pick-ups without calling us, her family might be removed from the program.

Each client family is strongly encouraged to participate in our education program. We give the families an activity book at the beginning of the season. Examples of activities available include visiting a farm, reading a book and writing a review, and sharing vegetables with a neighbor or friend. Books, DVDs, and cooking classes are made available at no cost to the client.  We can offer a client compensation for gas to travel to a farm.

More detailed instructions will be emailed to volunteers.

B. Food Delivery

6 month commitment – 4 to 8 hours/month
May to October
Iowa City, Cedar Rapids
Car required; gas reimbursement provided

Every week or every other week, depending upon your availability, pick up food from a farmer drop-off site in Iowa City and drive to smaller distribution sites around town.

C. Manage Local Foods Connection’s (LFC) Calendar

6 month commitment – 1 to 2 hours/week
Begin at any time
Work from home but reconnect with us for 2 hours a month in Iowa City office

Keep in contact with our administrative volunteers so you know what is happening in organization.  Enter all appointments, conferences, events, deadlines and other important dates in our calendars and ensure reminders go out to the right people in a timely manner.

***2. Short Term Commitments***

A. Write For Our Education Program

2 to 5 hours per project
Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines
Work from home

Are you a chef with a variety of cooking experiences? Are you a registered dietitian or a licensed nutritionist? Are you a farmer who practices alternative agriculture? If so, you can create an educational pamphlet for our clients. Our pamphlets are short, fact-filled and fun. They cover a variety of topics, such as: asparagus, how to read nutrition labels and frost on the farm. Examples and more detailed instructions will be given to volunteers.

B. Farm Work Days

Sat March 28: Solon
Sun March 29: West Branch
Sat April 11: Solon
Sat April 18: West Branch
Sun April 19: Solon
Sat April 25: Atalissa
Sun April 26: Solon, West Branch
Sat May 2: West Branch
Sun May 3: Solon

You will be doing farm work on a small, local farm that practices sustainable agriculture. In exchange for your volunteer labor, the farmer will give Local Foods Connection credit towards food purchases. No farm experience is required! The farmers will teach you what to do.

To Sign Up

-Give us your phone number and an email address that you check frequently. If the weather is very bad, the farmer might cancel, and we will need to call you.

-Send us a confirmation email saying you will attend the work session for which we’ve registered you.

Getting to the Farm

-Meet us at the farm at 10:30 a.m. LFC will help pay for gas.

-A limited number of carpooling rides are available. Let us know right away if you need a ride.

-If you have a car, please let us know if you can offer rides to other people.

Preparation for Farm Work

-Dress in layers. It might be colder or hotter on a farm than in town. The wind is stronger in some rural areas than in town. You might be working in a greenhouse or a barn and need to take off layers.

-Bring a hat. Bring suntan lotion.

-Be prepared to get dirty! Bring old towels, garbage bags or similar item to cover your car seats and floors to protect them from mud. You might want to bring a change of shoes, so dirty shoe souls don’t mess up your floors and pedals. You can even bring a change of clothes.

-Bring a bottle of water.

-Farmers will provide necessary tools for working.

-Please show up for the farm work day for which you’ve enrolled! The farmers will prepare for group projects, and if volunteers don’t show up, they will have lost valuable time.

***3. Other Opportunities***

If you have a skill or a talent you would like to share with Local Foods Connection, let us know! We will try to match your interests with our projects and needs.


Women Caring For the Land Field Day (3/25) March 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 10:45 am
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Calling all women interested in conservation!
You’re invited to attend the Women Caring for the Land field day on Wednesday, March 25th with facilitator Laura Krouse. This field day is a follow-up to the introductory meetings held throughout February in Linn, Jones, and Johnson Counties. (I wrote about the Johnson County meeting here.)
All are welcome, so even if you didn’t make it out to the introductory
meeting, join us for the field day. No RSVP necessary. Simply meet the group at 9.30am at St. John’s Catholic Church in Mt. Vernon, 1 block north and east of the intersection of Highways 1 and 30. (See Google map here.)
We will be touring unfenced cattle, terraces, nice and not so nice waterways, wetlands, confinement hog houses, restored prairie, and more!
The tour will return us, post-lunch, to the St. John’s parking lot around 2:30pm.  Be sure to bring lunch money. Hope to see you there!

The Vote Is In! March 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 9:18 am
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“Actually, when I read that phrase, that ‘Susan believes that everything she does on her farm is ag-related,’ I thought about that for a minute and I was just thinking, well, that can’t possibly be true. But the more I thought about it, I think it really is true – that if any of the side effects of anything she does serves to get the word out and reach any of her customers or potential customers, that’s good enough for me. It’s ag-related.”
Dave Parsons, Johnson County Board of Adjustment

The vote is in!

We are thrilled to announce that on March 18, 2009, in front of a standing room only crowd, the Johnson County Board of Adjustment voted in favor of Susan Jutz, granting her appeal by a vote of five to none. We need to extend a hearty thank you to the overwhelming number of people who took the time to talk to colleagues, write letters, attend the public hearing, and share their heartfelt stories with the Board. We were overwhelmed by the turnout. We received more than 80 letters of support including letters from Bill Northey, Secretary of Ag, Ray Hansen, ISU Value Added Program Director, the Johnson County Farm Bureau Board, Chris Petersen, Iowa Farmers Union and Joel Morton, Farm Aid. Your voices matter, you helped tell our story and clearly had an impact on the Board of Adjustment.

This ruling overturns Johnson County Planning and Zoning’s determination that Susan would need to apply for a Conditional Use Permit “for any, and all farm tours, and your harvest activities party… It appears that you have moved beyond normal agricultural uses into providing some kind of education on site, tourist tours, […] and special events.” Susan appealed to the County Board of Adjustment on the grounds that Planning and Zoning’s decision was a misinterpretation of the code – that ZJ Farm’s field days, farm tours, and other activities, including the annual harvest event, are consistent with the agricultural uses and activities protected in the Johnson County Unified Development Ordinance. The County Board of Adjustment voted in favor of that appeal.

This ruling is a major victory for local foods in the County and the State and a validation of diverse forms of farming and agriculture, including small-scale, diversified farming. With this ruling, Johnson County has lifted a huge burden from the shoulders of farmers and made a public commitment to local food.

But while this decision is, indeed, a step in the right direction, let’s continue to work on steps to support local food and food security throughout the County.

Thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm. “Now let’s begin the new season!”

Thank you,
Susan Jutz
Local Harvest CSA/ZJ Farms

“We recognize that farmers like Susan take great risks to produce a marketable crop. It is their willingness to take on these risks and to work long hard hours that result in not only the production of food but in on-farm educational, recreational even celebratory opportunities for all of us. Their work provides value to their family, neighbors and land; strengthens our communities and contributes to economic development. It is these on-farm activities that showcase some of our state’s greatest treasures; the Iowa farm, productive land and hard working Iowans. Iowa farmers are our best ambassadors for making that link between the farm and the community… I would strongly encourage your office to work with Susan and other Iowa farmers by removing barriers such as the one that the Conditional Use Permit would impose upon her and the development of farm-to-community networks that state legislators, state agencies, universities and other organizations have been working to achieve.”
Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

“We believe Susan Jutz is engaged in agriculture and should qualify for the same protection/preservation as traditional farms. In this instance, the farm tours and educational events including her fall harvest celebration should not require a special use permit because they are accessory uses of the land to ensure farm viability for the specialty crops raised on her farm.”
Russell Meade, President, Johnson County Farm Bureau

“It’s my understanding that Johnson County Planning and Zoning has made an initial determination that a local farmer, Susan Jutz, is engaged in doing something other than ‘normal’ agriculture when she seeks to court the market for her agricultural produce and to offer opportunities for other farmers to learn from her farming experiences… These events you’ve heard of that bring people to her farm are not profit making events in themselves but are entirely and only related to her agricultural enterprise which is the source of her livelihood.”
Larry Kallem, Co-founder, Practical Farmers of Iowa

“Farms and farm organizations throughout Iowa and the nation depend on offering farm tours, field days, and other related events to engage with the public, maintain business ties, and build popular support for investing in locally-based sustainable agriculture. The idea that ZJ Farm would need a ‘special use permit’ for its annual activities runs directly counter to good sense, good health, and good business for the county.”
Joel Morton, FARM AID

“Agritourism is defined as the act of visiting a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness operation to enjoy, be educated or be involved in activities… Based on USDA estimates, about 23,350 U.S. farms earned income from agritourism in 2007 and had $566 million in sales. This income and sales translates to jobs, dollars spent in rural communities and new economic development in Iowa’s rural areas… We believe this industry to be a vital new avenue to bring education on agriculture to Iowans and to have the potential to bring new revenue streams to Iowa farmers.”
Ray Hansen, Program Director, Value Added Agriculture Program, Iowa State University Extension