Home Law School News Iowa Heartland RC&D joins Drake in local food campaign

Iowa Heartland RC&D joins Drake in local food campaign

Drake University is partnering with Iowa Heartland Resource Conservation and Development to expand the amount of healthy foods both grown on local farms and consumed in central Iowa.

The campaign will roll out the 2010 directory this Saturday at the Downtown Farmers Market. Shoppers can stop by the Greater Des Moines Buy Fresh Buy Local booth to pick up a free directory and those who pledge to buy fresh, buy local will receive a refrigerator magnet.

“The Greater Des Moines Buy Fresh Buy Local Campaign started in 2004 as a way to link those who grow, sell and eat locally grown foods,” said Neil Hamilton, director of Drake’s Agricultural Law Center.

“Bringing healthy, local food to central Iowa families is win-win for local farmers and consumers,” said Keith Sparks, president of Iowa Heartland Resource Conservation and Development. “We’re excited to be part of that effort.”

The local food marketing campaign aims to get fresh, local food to consumers through a network of local farms, restaurants, food retailers and processors. The goal is to grow the number of residents, farms and businesses serving up locally grown foods in the nine-county area surrounding Des Moines.

“As with any successful effort, one goal is to continue to grow and innovate,” Hamilton added. “We’ve expanded the campaign nearly every year, but 2010 represents our biggest leap yet. We are excited to have Iowa Heartland adding two people to work on the campaign to help farm and business members tell their stories.”

Membership in Greater Des Moines BFBL includes 85 farms, a 35 percent increase from last year; 25 businesses, a 25 percent increase; and 28 farmers markets, a 40 percent increase.

Five co-sponsoring members are providing additional support to the campaign: Kitchen Collage, Campbell’s Nutrition, Iowa Food Cooperative, the Downtown Farmers Market and Environmental Nutrition Solutions.

Co-sponsoring members will host events and activities throughout the year. Their support also includes scholarships for farm memberships and sponsoring the Harvest Party food celebration on Sept. 19 at Drake University. The BFBL community will celebrate the bounty of locally grown food with local farmers, chefs and supportive business owners with delicious local foods.

During 2009, nearly 2,000 consumers signed a pledge to buy fresh, local foods every week during the growing season. Based on a survey of those who took the pledge, more than 60 percent of households spent $25 or more on local foods in a typical summer week.

The survey also found that 87 percent agreed that they are eating more fruits and vegetables because locally grown food tastes better. In addition, 96 percent said that their interest in local food comes from a desire to support local farmers. These consumers said the Greater Des Moines Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign made it easier to find local foods. One way the campaign does this is through a weekly newsletter, which highlights various farms and businesses that support local foods and tells consumers what local food events are happening in the area and what’s fresh each week during the growing season.

Join the campaign

For more information, send an e-mail to BFBL@drake.edu, call 515-271-4956 or visit www.buyfreshdrake.org. The Greater Des Moines Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign includes farmers from Polk, Boone, Dallas, Jasper, Madison, Marion, Story, Warren and surrounding counties.

In addition, Drake and Iowa Heartland RC&D will provide a range of Buy Fresh Buy Local services and promotional materials to assist member farms, restaurants, retailers and food processors. The campaign will help farms craft a compelling story to convey the essence of their farm and help businesses determine ways to highlight the presence of local foods on their shelves and in their menus. The campaign will also help link farms and businesses that are interested in supporting each other.

The Drake Agricultural Law Center is internationally recognized for providing opportunities to study how the legal system shapes our food system and influences the ability of the agricultural sector to produce, market and utilize agricultural products. The Drake Law School supports an array of courses, publications, conferences, research initiatives and has created a certification program in food and agricultural law. Iowa Heartland is a nonprofit partner of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and serves Dallas, Jasper, Madison, Marion, Polk and Warren counties in central Iowa.

Iowa Heartland’s mission is to enhance rural areas and communities by facilitating grassroots efforts and partnerships for conservation and sustainable development.

For more information about Buy Fresh, Buy Local, contact Matt Russell at 515-689-8219 or bfbl@drake.edu.