Category Archives: Transportation & Logistics

Want to sell wholesale?

Looking for a buyer? The Local Food Expo has a couple of display areas for you at its meeting next Tuesday, September 18. Hosted by the Institutional Food Marketing Coalition, this event brings buyers and sellers together to swap business cards and learn about their mutual interests and concerns around wholesaling food grown in our region. They are especially interested in meat and cheese vendors. To register for the meeting. reserve a display table or learn more, go to Register now!

Transportation Costs and Considerations

Mark your calendar for a Workshop on transportation costs, the evening of May 2, 2012 in Dubuque. This event is targeted to farmers who want to assess what their transportation costs are and consider alternate ways to get their products to market. The event is free, but we need an RSVP to ensure adequate refreshments. Please spread the word throughout the region.

Land Stewardship Project and Iowa Extension is offering the workshop, in conjunction with the UW-Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and the National Center on Freight Infrastructure, Research and Education.

Growing hazelnuts in the Driftless

Are you growing hazelnuts in the Drifltess? Are you thinking about it? CIAS is working with the University of Minnesota, UW-Extension, Rural Advantage, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Superior and the UW-Horticulture department on a hazelnut project. Hazelnuts are native to our region and have the potential to hold soil in place, withstand drought, and provide a high-quality food source. The project has three primary components: select native bushes that show potential for good nut bearing and evaluate the native/european crosses that are already growing on farms in the three states; work on developing processing equipment that is appropriate scale for small to mid-size operations; and help farmers organize their processing and marketing efforts to make the most of rural economic opportunities. Check out the Midwest Hazelnut Initiative web site if you want to learn more.

Attached are two documents. The first Hazelnut Wiki gives an overview of hazelnuts. The second is a GIS analysis of hazelnut production in Wisconsin, with some suggestions for where to place a processing facility.    Hazelnut_PDF_GIS_Analysis 


Welcome back!

Nearly a year has passed since our eloquent blogger, Mark Sieffert, and his gifted wife CeCe,  graduated and left Madison for further Adventures in Sustainability. We’ve missed their good works on behalf of the Driftless Region and our broader community, yet much has happened in the months following their departure.

We’ve made considerable progress on our work investigating transportation systems for regional and local food markets working with Alfonso Morales (Urban and Regional Planning).  Rosa Kozub took the lead on a first set of cases detailing some of the issues embedded in regional food transportation. Check out the report. David Nelson joined our staff and began where Rosa left off – investigating ways that farmers interested in regional markets could make use of transportation and logistics tools created for national scale distribution. We also started partnering with the Land Stewardship Project to help farmers determine their cost of transportation. David and I have since given numerous presentations on this topic to diverse audiences. We look forward to another year’s work on this project.

Brady Williams, with his faculty advisor Sam Dennis (Landscape Architecture)  joined us this year to work with hazelnut growers and informing the development of  a  processing industry for their product. As you may know, the Driftless is home to the most diverse pool of wild hazelnut genetics. It is also home to many farmers interested in agroforestry and dabbling in hazelnut production. Brady is currently developing case studies of other similar businesses to guide growers in starting this new industry off on solid footing.

Caitlin Henning, advised by Jane Collins (Community and Environmental Sociology),  joined our team in pursuit of artisan meat. She is organizing a meeting in the Driftless with farmers and processors to discuss issues of concern in raising, finishing, and processing. This summer she plans to spend time with farmers in Spain to learn about the Black Iberian pig and hazelnut finishing. She will then be making an interlocal connection between artisan producers in Spain and the Driftless.

The Driftless Food and Farming Project was featured in the Fall 2011 issue of Edible Madison, thanks to our friend, Jessica Luhning. Check it out.

We’ve made some great connections in Illinois, with the Driftless Area Initiative, and in Dubuque. We’ve added more than 100 people to our list of food system creators in the Region. I gave some variation of this presentation to a number of new audiences.

Plans for this summer include 4 workshops in the Region to develop the Driftless story, artisan meat opportunities, and transportation options.

Partner with us on your pet project. Invite us to participate at your up-coming events. Commit to creative, authentic innovation.

And tell us your stories. Let’s learn together.

Next Steps for Transportation and Logistics Breakout Group

Transportation and Distribution Logistics

Compared to some of the other topic groups, this group is at relatively early stages of thinking, planning and doing. People in the region have been working independently, but are increasingly ready to organize. This part of the food supply chain offers opportunity to grow and diversify the local economy much like other parts of the chain, but the way forward is less clear than it is with bricks-and-mortar projects. There is a strong interest in maintaining a vision of sustainability in the development of new systems. SE MN is actively engaged in this work and could potentially provide leadership as critical mass develops.

Next steps:

  • Who in the region can provide leadership for this work? What is necessary for them to build capacity to take on that leadership? Where do we find that support?
  • What is the most appropriate scale to work with? Local, county, multi-county, state, etc.?
  • Where could the region find industry expertise, if only to understand what questions yet need to be answered in thinking about distribution and logistics?
  • How do we build awareness with farmers about the role that this part of the food supply chain plays and the associated costs / savings of working in moving beyond direct marketing into a wholesale model?

We would like to encourage your participation in continuing conversations. Please step forward by posting a comment below or by emailing us.  If you have suggestions on how we can proceed please don’t hesitate to share them.