Expanding local markets through linking institutional food buyers to local farmers and processors in Northeast Iowa

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2000: $43,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $34,000.00
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Kamyar Enshayan
University of Northern Iowa

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn
  • Fruits: apples, berries (other), grapes, melons, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Animals: bovine, poultry


  • Education and Training: technical assistance, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer
  • Farm Business Management: marketing management, agricultural finance, whole farm planning
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban/rural integration, community services, employment opportunities, social capital, social networks


    We have developed an internship program where interns work as assistants to food service managers of participating institutions. The interns identified nearby farmers and processors and assisted the institutions in buying a greater portion of their food from local/regional sources. During 2001 and 2002, nine interns and the project coordinator worked with 12 institutions in northeast Iowa. We documented what each institutions purchased locally and the amount of money they spent on local food dollars. During the two years of this project, the participating restaurants and institutions purchased more than $367,000 in locally grown fruit, vegetables and meats from farmers and processors near them. We intensified the publicity about the accomplishments of these institutions in our region and the entire practice of strengthening the local food economy by choosing to support nearby farmers and processors.

    Project objectives:

    1. 1. Work with several northeast Iowa hospitals, nursing homes, and other large food buyers so that they buy a greater portion of their food purchases from local farmers and processors.

      2. Develop an internship program where trained interns will be placed in participating institutions to be of assistance to the food service staff in establishing a local food buying process.

      3. Continue to develop a clearer understanding of the barriers to and opportunities for a variety of institutions to buy a greater portion of their food locally, and disseminate the lessons learned widely among farmers, processors and institutional food buyers.

    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.