To develop a sustainable regional foods system for Central Minnesota by increasing awareness of the value of local foods, enhancing access to local foods, conducting research to provide opportunities to expand the growing season for local producers.
Provide support to farmers' markets in the Pine and Lake Country by promoting markets, sponsoring chef demonstrations, and assisting new markets in the region; collaborating with chefs to promote the use of local foods in restaurants; mapping food producers to establish a distribution system that will facilitate movement of local food between producers and consumers.
Project partners and participants include University of Minnesota faculty and staff, Region Five Development Commission, the Initiative Foundation, Happy Dancing Turtle Foundation, KLKS radio, local growers, chefs and restaurants, food coop managers, health care facility dietary managers, chambers of commerce staff.
- Provide resource materials and conduct informational workshops for community farmers’ market participants
- Provide seed grants and technical support to newly created farmers’ markets in the Central Region
- Promote local farmers’ markets and regional food systems
- Conduct research, demonstration, and educational training in the use of high tunnels to extend the growing season in Central Minnesota
- Establish relationships with area chefs to promote use of local foods in restaurants
- Host producer-purchaser workshops to facilitate connections between producers and food purchasers
- Develop Pine and Lake Country “brand” to promote locally grown foods
- The number of farmers’ markets operating in the Central Region has increased from four to 25 in five years
- Since the high tunnel research was initiated in 2005, nearly 200 high tunnels have been constructed and are in use by growers within Minnesota
- Local foods promotional information is aired weekly on local radio stations
- The number of chefs and restaurants using local foods continues to increase within the region and local health system facilities have expressed interest in a local foods program.
- A VISTA member has been authorized to support the Pine and Lake Country Local Foods program
Regional Funding: $95,000 from FY 2005 to FY 2008
$7,500 Initiative Foundation
$10,000 KLKS radio in-kind promotional services
$46,000 University of MN faculty support
$5,000 Green Lands Blue Waters program grant
$77,500 in community volunteer and in-kind services