Category Archives: Initiatives

Kate Clancy on food systems

Many of you may know Dr. Kate Clancy’s work on food systems. She has led many a project to diagnose what is working and what is not, including a multi-state project in New England – EFSNE.

Kate was on the UW-Madison campus the week of April 2 and gave a presentation for the Food and the Wisconsin Idea. The session is titled “The systems that feed us and what it will take to change them”. ( https://youtu.be/3yVx9OqKTcA ) The term “food system” is widely used in academia and the nonprofit sector, but what do we really mean by it? Are we really using systems approaches to complex problems that could lead to greater understanding and effective solutions? What stands in our way? I was honored to join Kate on the stage to address these questions. UWEX runs these sessions so that people outstate can join the event as though it is a webniar, or watch the talk on line after the event.

On April 4, Kate was the featured speaker at the Weston Roundtable Lecture speaking on “Building Successful Interdisciplinary Projects” (hotlink to come). Despite widespread acknowledgment that interdisciplinary research (IR) is among the most important ways to drive sustainable development, many collaborations fail, and it has not been embraced by many researchers and institutions. The extensive literature on IR provides guidance on the “ingredients for success”: these elements are illustrated by the experience of a seven-year project – EFSNE – conducted in the Northeast US on enhancing food security in the region. The lecture offers lessons on how to develop and manage robust interdisciplinary projects, and ideas on how to build more IR capacity.

Kate is a food systems consultant, visiting scholar at the Center for a Liveable Future at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Adjunct Professor at Tufts University, and Senior Fellow in the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Minnesota.


Tribal Food and Farming 101 workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This two-day workshop will be held February 15-16 at the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wisconsin, and this workshop will connect to additional workshops and training opportunities throughout the 2019 growing season, including the Wisconsin Intertribal Seed Stewardship Cohort that will be hosting monthly online training sessions.

To register and learn more, go to: https://iacgreatlakes.com/workshop/

Google’s Refresh: Food + Tech

Google wants to better understand the ways that technology can benefit food systems. Skeptical? So was I. But after participating in three meetings, including one in Chicago last week, I am warming to the idea.

Watch the conversation about the future of AI in our food system with former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Food Tank, Google, and Refresh Working Group members. I think you will particularly enjoy the duet between Ali Lange (Google, formerly of the Center for Democracy and Technology), and Don Bustos, a Native New Mexican farmer. Ankita Raturi hit the ball out of the park when she notes that rural US needs stable internet access. This one is worth the watch.

“I think we have a long way to go before we start deploying Siri for farms,” she said. “We need fundamental technical infrastructure right now … very basic building blocks. What are the fundamental pieces we need to build first, and then people can imagine what other tools might be able to do.” –Ankita Raturi

In a first report from the working group, From Soil to Supper, you will see short pieces on how AI is currently in use, primarily for data collection for traditional production, distribution, and retailing. It is my hope that future reports will begin to address power disparities in the food system and the way that data privatization and technology appropriate for small to mid-scale farms is being developed. Something to help farmers anticipate extreme weather, like the Driftless flooding, would be appreciated, I am sure.

And if you have thoughts about food+tech you want me to bring to the table, please post comments below. I would be happy to share your thoughts with the working group at our next meeting.

 

#DairyTogether road trip!

Join other dairy farmers and coops on August 13 to advance solutions to the dairy crisis. There is a bus leaving from Wisconsin, full of dairy farmers. The bus will stop along the way for media opportunities and to pick up attendees in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

More details on Agrimark’s event page:

You asked, we researched…food transportation

Workshop: Freight innovations to optimize regional food resiliency

Register for the regional food freight workshop in Chicago here: https://uwccs.eventsair.com/61503dr/rffc

Tuesday January 5, 2016

 

Watching farm trucks pull into the Capital Square farmers market in Madison, WI can make one wonder how to get regional food to regional markets more efficiently. Driftless farm and food businesses, such as Driftless Organics, Morningside Orchard, 5th Season and Organic Valley work hard to figure out how to engage with green transportation options to get their products to Minneapolis, Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago. Logistics, labor regulations, congestion, docking arrangements make this all very complex.

In April, 2010 CIAS started convening Driftless Food and Farm meetings where food transportation was identified as a top issue, but there were few resources available to address this critical component to resilient agriculture and food systems. In 2011 -2012, we made important links to researchers in logistics and freight transportation. In February 2013, we hosted the first regional food supply chain gathering in LaCrosse, where more than 100 businesses, NGOs, and allies convened to think through transportation barriers and opportunities. In 2014, a research team representing multiple different aspects of the food supply chain and leaders in the field continued to investigate the nature of regional supply chains and look for leverage points to elegantly improve systems. We learned from other nascent regional efforts in the New England States and California, and noted innovations in the private sector. We want to share this with you.

This meeting provides an opportunity to consider systemic improvements for moving food from rural to urban areas in such a way that potentially can meet the needs of all stakeholders and address critical issues like GHG emissions and food access. Much like past meetings, this one is intended to bring practitioners together to share their experiences, observations, successes and lessons learned. The format highlights some speakers from the field to jumpstart our conversations and we expect that much of the work will happen during small group discussions, over lunch and beyond.

If you have a stake in moving food from farm to market, please register. We need you at the table. Please share news of the conference with your supply chain partners and encourage them to come. If we pull together, forward momentum is assured.

The venue has limited capacity, so please register early to ensure a spot. Some scholarships are available. Please contact Michelle Miller if you are interested in one. mmmille6 AT wisc.edu, 608-262-7135

For more information on the conference including speakers and format, as well as information on past meetings and reports on regional food freight, go to the page dedicated to that work on this web site – tabbed at the top right corner “Regional Food Freight”.

 

 

Field days at West Madison Agricultural Research Station focus on vegetable flavor

This year at West Madison, Horticulture professor Julie Dawson planted trials of several
species of vegetables with a particular focus on flavor, with varieties selected by plant breeders at UW Madison and by seed companies with organic seed offerings for direct-market growers.

They have beets, carrots, onion, lettuce, hot and sweet peppers, melons, winter squash, cabbage, tomato, potato and sweet corn in collaboration with plant breeders at UW Madison and the West Madison demonstration gardens.

Field days are each month from 3-5 pm. Participants will tour a breeding nursery or larger trial each time, and also look at all the crops in the demonstration gardens and do a taste test.

  • Wednesday August 27th: tomatoes, sweet corn, melons, peppers
  • Monday September 22nd: beets, carrots, onions, tomatoes
  • Tuesday October 21st: potatoes, winter squash, carrots

All the field days will be held at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station 8502 Mineral Point Rd, Verona WI 53593, universitydisplaygardens.com.

For more information and to receive information on project results, contact Julie Dawson,
Department of Horticulture, dawson@hort.wisc.edu.