Community Capacity Building to Strengthen the Links within the Iowa Local Foods Value Chain

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2011: $42,472.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Linda Naeve
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension, networking
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, marketing management, farm-to-institution, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, public policy, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, community services

    Proposal abstract:

    A committee of nine people, consisting of extension and non-extension staff, was created to plan the fall professional development training. The training will be held September 11 - 13, 2012 in Ames, IA. The 3-day training will include a day of value-chain tours and a "World Cafe" activity and two days of concurrent sessions, keynote speakers, and meetings with Regional Food System Working Groups. Approximately 150 people were invited to participate through online registration and 45 speakers have agreed to participate. The training will also include 13 displays from Iowa State University programs and several NGO's active in the Iowa local food system. A local foods activity assessment was developed for participants to complete prior to attending the training.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1. Provide a professional development educational forum on Iowa's extensive local food value chain by bringing together staff from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach(ISUEO), Natural Resource Conservation Service, school educators, and other governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGO's).

    A committee of nine people, consisting of extension and non-extension staff, was created to plan the fall professional development training. The training will be September 11 - 13, 2012 in Ames, IA. Due to limited space, invited extension participants were recommended by their Regional Directors. Other invitees included several USDA employees, Iowa Food System Working Group leaders, NGO representatives, and other educators. A website ( was developed to inform invitees of the training event and enable them to register on-line. The three-day training will begin with tours of the local foods value chain. Participants will be assigned to one of three tours, meats, dairy, or produce. The tour groups will reconvene to participate in a "World Cafe" activity to address questions that were asked at each tour stop. The following two days will include speakers and displays. A "Resource Tool Kit" (a flashdrive containing an organized system to locate resources and information on local food systems) was developed and will be given to each participant.

    Objective 2. Provide a conduit in which sectors involved in the Iowa local foods movement will be able to learn what others are doing in the state.

    The 3-day training will include displays, discussions, and many opportunities for participants to network and gather information. The training concludes with extension staff attending the Regional Food System Working Group quarterly meeting. This will enable extension staff to learn more about what is going on their specific region and determine how their resources and knowledge can assist with and strengthen the local and regional foods system efforts.

    Objective 3. Build community capacity among educators, institutions, and others within regional food systems enabling groups, consumers, and youth to work together to strengthen and sustain the local foods value chain in Iowa.

    The 3-day training will be the introduction and serve as the foundation for community capacity building within the local food system in Iowa. Regional meetings to be conducted in late winter, 2013, will further build networks and community capacity among those who participated in the training.

    Key extension staff and leaders in Iowa local food systems have been identified and invited to a 3-day training event. The agenda has been developed, speakers confirmed, and pre-conference assessment tools have been prepared. A program website and "Resource Tool Kit" were developed.

    Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

    Impacts and outcomes will not be known until after the training event. At the time they register for the training, participants will be asked to complete a brief assessment of their participation in local/regional food system development. Post-workshop surveys and assessments will sent to participants approximately 1 month after the 3-day training and in Spring/Summer 2013 to determine the impacts and outcomes of the project.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.