Tag Archives: Driftless Region

Driftless Food and Farm Convention This Thursday

We look forward to seeing you at the second  Driftless Food and Farm Convention. Remarkably, more than 80 people have indicated they will join us! Remember, we meet this Thursday, March 18 at Huckleberry’s Restaurant, 1916 S. Marquette Rd., Prairie du Chien, WI. Please allow plenty of time for travel as we will start promptly at 10:00 am. (If you hope to carpool, please visit our blog and post your availability in the comments section.)

We’ll spend the morning learning about the uniqueness of the Driftless Region. We’ll also hear updates from our first Driftless Convention that took place last January at the Local Food Summit in Eau Claire and hear from regional groups regarding the status of their food systems projects.

After lunch small groups will strategize opportunities for various sectors in the region.  These include production sectors (i.e., wine grapes, aronia, grass-fed beef, artisanal cheese, apples, wildcrafting, etc.), processing and others initiatives as chosen by you. Our goal is to identify the best strategies for creating an economically robust, sustainable Driftless Region food system.

Before Thursday, we invite you to think about the following questions:

1. What are the top three weaknesses and threats in your area of expertise (for example, specialty fruit production or processing) that hinder your work to create a sustainable, regional food system?

2. What are your top three strengths in your area of expertise that will help in the creation of a sustainable region food system?

3.  Who is not yet involved in our work, but should be?

Your participation and feedback will help us continue to build fertile ground for sifting, planting and growing a Driftless Region food system.

For more information and background on the Driftless Region Food and Farm Project, please visit: www.driftless.wisc.edu

Safe travels, and we look forward to seeing you Thursday.

Driftless Region Food and Farm Project Team

UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems

Scaling Up in the Driftless

At our upcoming Driftless Region Food and Farm Project meeting on Thursday, March 18, we hope to discuss strategies that enable food entrepreneurs to meet the growing demand in the Driftless region for locally produced food.  To guide our conversation, we plan to refer to a recent report published by UW-Madison CIAS, Scaling Up: Meeting the Demand for Local Food.  Click here to download a full copy.

In the report, the authors identify eight common challenges faced by local food entrepreneurs and suggest some innovations to meet the challenges.  They include:

  1. Controlling for product quality and consistency
  2. Seasonality
  3. Matching supply and demand
  4. Communicating food origins and product differentiation
  5. Supply chain infrastructure
  6. Securing capital
  7. Capacity development
  8. Information flow and transparency

If you are either facing these kinds of  challenges or potentially have identified innovative solutions to them, we hope you will join us on March 18 and share your experiences and insights.  We also ask you to begin the conversation by commenting below.

Emerging Themes From First Driftless Food Systems Convention

The first Driftless Food Systems Convention was held on January 21, 2010, at the Wisconsin Value-Added Conference and Local Food Summit in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The session consisted of a World Café exercise, in which participants broke into about 8 small groups to discuss visions, challenges, and near-term objectives for the Driftless Region.  There were approximately 59 participants at the session, representing all four states that are part of the Driftless Region. At each table, a self-designated table-leader recorded the discussion.

Visit the following link for a brief summary on the themes that emerged from our conversation: Themes from Driftless Convention #1 – January 21, 2010 . The most frequently raised topics included the need to build partnerships and a sense of community within the Driftless, the need to establish a regional marketing identity, the provision of more support for farmers, and the development of more substantial infrastructure to bolster our work.  Download the document to see the complete list.

We hope to use this blog in the coming weeks to expand on the needs and opportunities expressed by the meeting’s participants.  Ideally, these themes and our future sessions will produce a fruitful dialogue on ways to scale up food system resources in the Driftless.

Thank you to the many people who have contributed thus far to the conversation.    We look forward to continuing this process at our next session on March 18. All are welcome. Click below to visit Evite for more information about the event and to RSVP: http://www.evite.com/pages/invite/viewInvite.jsp?event=TJYZVTOFPKTQFVTNAGRG&unknownUser=true

Position Announcement at Partner Organization

One of our partners in the region, the Driftless Area Initiative, is looking for an Executive Director.

Position Description:

The Executive Director is responsible for the strategic planning and day-to-day operations of the Driftless Area Initiative with oversight by the DAI Board.  Primary duties include: establish 501(c)3 status for the organization, secure funding to support the organization’s mission, recruit organizations and individuals to expand the partnership, manage and promote current projects, and develop and distribute information and education materials.

Continue reading

March 18 Driftless Food System Meeting – Join Us

What kind of food system do you want to see in the Driftless Region?

Join a diverse group of individuals for further conversations and planning on ways to scale up resources for resilient food systems in the Driftless Region.  If you were at our meeting in January, continue your participation.  If you missed us the first time around, please bring your wisdom, contacts, and expertise to the table and help us capitalize on the Driftless Region’s many assets.

We hope to cast the net as widely as possible.  Please forward this invitation to those you think should join us. Details on the event are below.

The tentative agenda includes updates from representatives of organizations from throughout the region, including SE MN Regional Partnerships, the Driftless Area Initiative, Riverlands Partnership, Northeast Iowa Food and Farm Coalition, and the Valley Stewardship Network.

We are also planning brainstorming sessions on grassfed beef, dairy/artisanal cheese, emerging crops, organic vegetables, fruit, and poultry.  If you know farmers planning to expand their efforts in these areas, please bring them along.

In the weeks since our first meeting, we have collected and summarized the many ideas we generated together.  We also have created a blog to serve as a temporary home for our efforts.  We will email more information on those topics soon.

In the meantime, please let us know if you would like to help us formulate the March 18 agenda or you have any questions or suggestions.

Many thanks,
The UW-Madison CIAS Driftless Team

When: Thursday, March 18, 2010.  10 am to 4:30 pm

Where: Huckleberry’s Restaurant, 1916 S. Marquette Road, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821

For more information: Call (608) 262-2828, or email sieffert[at] wisc.edu