Chase tells Local Food Summit participants to dream
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 04/28/2012 9:47 PM
AMES, Iowa — The Iowa Local Food Summit was a part dream session for Craig Chase.
"What is it that you want an Iowa food system to look like, what is your part and how do we get more people involved?" said the marketing and food systems initiative director for the Leopold Center and Iowa Local Food and Farm Program coordinator.
Chase compares the Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan to a jigsaw puzzle.
"I really like jigsaw puzzles because every piece connects to another piece, and it's not until all pieces are put together that you get a clear picture," he said.
Chase urged participants to consider the Iowa Food and Farm Plan's 30-plus recommendations to see if these are still the right recommendations, to identify what parts of the puzzle are missing, who is working on each piece and how to connect the pieces "to make the Iowa food system the best that it can be."
John Lawrence, associate dean of Iowa State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said the university is heavily invested in local food systems. Value-added staff work with business planning for production systems, food hubs and food aggregators. The Community Vitality Center is developing financing tools and the Beginning Farmer Center is looking at options to bring in new producers.
ISU has hired Joe Hannan as commercial horticulture specialist in central and western Iowa and Ajay Nair as fruit and vegetable Extension specialist.
Chase is assigned to work solely on regional and local food systems.
"It sends a message to USDA that this is one of our priorities," Lawrence said.
The plan, led by former Leopold Center staffer Rich Pirog, was put together with input from more than 1,000 people. Pirog boiled it down to 30-plus recommendations. Extension's work plan was based on that document.