Early Bird Registration for WLFN Convening ends 3/09/18

The Early Registration deadline for this year’s Wisconsin Local Food Network convening is March 9th! Please take a moment to register today!

The conference on April 9 and 10 at the Chula Vista Resort will be held in conjunction with Feeding Wisconsin’s Hunger and Heath Summit. We are excited to be partnering with Feeding Wisconsin to bring WLFN attendees two-full days of educational content and networking opportunities on expanding access to healthy food and local food infrastructure.

As an attendee, in addition the WLFN-specific sessions and tracks, you can also attend other hunger and health focused sessions at the conference and connect with hundreds of service providers, healthcare organizations, advocates, and policymakers from across the state to break out of the traditional silos we work in.

The WLFN content starts with the Food Systems Convergence Pre-Conference session on April 9 at 9:00 am. We hope that you will be able to attend this important session to celebrate our work together over the last 12 years and plan for our work together into the future.

The tentative agenda for the conference has been posted. Even in its draft form, the conference looks to be very exciting and an extremely enriching two days of networking and best practice sharing. The final agenda, with final titles, descriptions, and speakers should be posted by the last week of February.

Check out the draft agenda and Register for Conference today!

WLFN Seeks Coordinator!

Wisconsin Local Food Network Coordinator

The Wisconsin Local Food Network (WLFN) is seeking a Coordinator to move forward the joint efforts of a united Wisconsin Local Food Network (WLFN)/Wisconsin Healthy Food System Alliance (WHFSA).

The WLFN engages, connects, and empowers local, regional, and state organizations and individuals to build sustainable, equitable, and resilient food systems. The WLFN is committed to creating a vibrant local and regional food systems in Wisconsin that nourishes the health and well-being of Wisconsin communities, conserves and enhances the natural resource base, and provides economic livelihood for a wide diversity of sustainable Wisconsin farmers and food businesses.

A main activity of WLFN is to convene an annual Food Summit gathering of people and organizations working in local food systems to promote networking, learning, and action planning. Additionally, WLFN acts as an information clearinghouse for state-wide news and events through its email listserv, social media properties, and website.

The Coordinator will facilitate united Wisconsin Local Food Network (WLFN)/Wisconsin Healthy Food System Alliance (WHFSA) action in collaboration with supportive and allignednetworks, organizations and institutions, to strategically build a vibrant, resilient, healthy and accessible food system in Wisconsin.

Principles Duties and Responsibilities of the Coordinator

Facilitate a collaborative process to finalize unification of WLFN and WHFSA – working with WLFN Board and leaders and key people in WHFSA

Coordinate and facilitate the process of rebranding the new united work, including possible new name and logo.

Manage Communication Properties – Maintain and improve Listserve, website, Facebook, etc. This includes planning and managing website and communication properties to launch new brand in Spring 2018. The Coordinator will work with in-kind or contracted assistance to do actual graphic design and work.

Facilitate Food Summit Planning with key partners. Organize and put on regular  Food Summit according to plan. Develop long-range plan (format and timing) for future Summits. Note – the 2018 gathering will be in connection with the Health & Hunger Summit, April 9-10 in the Wisconsin Dells. The new Coordinator will help with the WLFN involvement in the Summit.

Convene Board of united organization in regular meetings and help them with continued board development.

Connect to and work collaboratively with UW-Extension, healthTIDE, DATCP, and other partners to support planned Regional Activities

Leverage existing networks (e.g., healthTIDE) to disseminate the work of this position and information regarding the Food Summit, utilizing network partners in planning and coordinating input on the collaborative work of WLFN and WHFSA to build local and healthy food system.

Identify and seek Grants and Fundraising opportunities.

Structure of the Position

The Coordinator is overseen by the WLFN board. The position is structurally situated with the Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU), which acts as the fiscal agent for WLFN. The successful applicant may work out of the WFU Chippewa Falls or Madison offices, but may also work remotely, or some combination of locations. Administrative support for the position will come from the Chippewa Falls WFU office. The position will start out as a contracted position at up to $2400/month (120 hours/month) for the first 3-4 months with the possibility to transition to a 75% salaried position based on $40,000/year starting salary with health benefits through the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

Applicants should send a resume and cover letter, including names and contact information for two references, by 11:59pm February 26, 2018 to wilocalfoodnet@gmail.com. Questions about the position can also be directed to this email address.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity. All employment is decided on the basis of qualifications, merit and business need.

Important Update on WLFN!


We hope that the arrival of winter finds you well and not too cold.  Brr!

We wanted to take this opportunity to give you some updates on what is going on with the Wisconsin Local Food Network.  We’ve got some big news!

A group of stakeholders came together back in August to chart a path forward. There was agreement that the Wisconsin Local Food Network and the Wisconsin Healthy Food System Alliance should merge and work together formally as one entity. You can expect to hear more details about this over the coming months.

Wisconsin Local Food Network (WLFN) is in the process of transitioning from being housed at REAP Food Group to the Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU), after moving from Wellspring last year.  A big thanks to all of these organizations for helping to keep the work of coordinating the network going.

Wisconsin Farmers Union is currently coordinating the listserve with UW Extension. And will start to manage the website. We are also in conversation with UW Extension about what their role can be as they themselves are reorganizing across the state. They are eager to be an active part in the important work of building the healthy and fair local food system.

The big news is that in partnership with HealthTIDE and Wisconsin Farmers Union, and some prospective partners, we are putting things in place to mutually invest in a “more than half-time, hopefully full-time” Coordinator! We are developing the scope of work for this position and will be announcing the job opening shortly. We hope to have someone hired by late February/early March. This permanent position will assist WLFN in longer term planning and improved follow through. When you see the announcement please help us spread the word.

We are also excited to announce that we have reached an agreement with Feeding Wisconsin to have our annual Summit programming at their annual Hunger & Health Summit on April 9 & 10, 2018 at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells. We will have the opportunity to continue the WLFN Food System Convergence meeting in the form of a pre-conference from 9 – 11:30am on April 9th. During the Hunger and Health Summit, we will be able to offer attendees a full track of WLFN Food System Sessions as a complement to the concurrent sessions that focus on hunger, health, healthcare, advocacy, and federal programs.

We are extremely excited to offer WLFN supporters the opportunity to continue along the conversations that have started and progressed over the last 11 Annual Summits with an opportunity to have a deep dive on issues of food access and health, issues that WLFN supporters have expressed ongoing interest in.  Additionally, the conference tracks this year will align with the Wisconsin Blueprint to Ending Hunger Plan. This is an exciting development because we can help give voice to the entire local food system, starting with the farmers to help impact the Ending Hunger Plan.


We value your support and input. Please consider how you might engage and participate in the new WLFN. Participating in the April Health and Hunger Summit will be a great way to start.

If you are interested in helping to plan the Pre-Conference Convergence or any of the WLFN tracks, please contact Greg Zahn at greg@circleunionfarm.com. Small planning committees have begun to form and we would love to have your continued engagement. Please let Greg know what you might be up for.

Feeding Wisconsin is accepting session proposals for the conference. The RFP and the submission form is on their Conference page: http://www.feedingwi.org/programs/conferences/2018_summit.php Please help us spread the word among your networks!

Again, thank you so much for your continued support. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you have any questions.

Thank you,


The WLFN Board,

WI Healthy Food System Alliance

and our Partners.

Healthy Food Systems Convergence: A Community Conversation on Healthy Food Access – May 9 – Wisconsin Rapids

Convergence graphicThe Wisconsin Food System Convergence session at the 2017 Hunger & Health Summit, May 9  will give attendees an opportunity to share their voice on how to create a sustainable, good food movement that makes healthy food accessible for all. This convergence will build on all the great work that has been done in the past, and through a modified process of Appreciative Inquiry, will seek to chart a coordinated path forward. https://hungerandhealth2017.eventnut.com/

 This session will provide a space for continued conversations from those that participated in the convergence at the January WLFN summit, and an opportunity for new voices to come to the table.

Join us to share your input on how to more effectively work together to build a food system that makes it easy to grow, sell, access, and eat healthy food for all people in Wisconsin.

Apply Now for Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Grants

datcp_logoMADISON – Since its inception in 2008, the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grant program has generated more than $8.4 million in new local food sales. Farmers and others in Wisconsin’s food industry who want to grow their local markets are encouraged to apply in the 2017 round of grants. Managed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), the grants can help farms and business more efficiently process, market and distribute food in local markets including stores, schools and institutions.

“Just as a wide variety of foods makes for a healthy diet, a variety of farms and agribusinesses makes for a healthy economy,” said BLBW program manager Kietra Olson. “We encourage growers, processors and distributors of diverse products to apply, and we look forward to funding some innovative ideas.”

Pre-proposals must be received at DATCP by 4 p.m. April 14, 2017. Each proposal must include a cover page, a completed budget template and three-page project description. The necessary documents can be found online at https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/BuyLocalBuyWisconsinGrants.aspx

Qualified projects selected during the pre-proposal round will be invited to complete a full proposal. The recipients will be announced in May, 2017.

A total of $200,000 is available in grant funding; the maximum award for each project is $50,000. Grant applicants must provide a cash or in-kind match of at least 50 percent of the total project budget.

Qualified applicants include individuals, groups or businesses involved in Wisconsin production agriculture, food processing, food distribution, food warehousing, retail food establishments or agricultural tourism operations. Proposals could include collaborations or partnerships.

Since 2008, DATCP has awarded 44 BLBW grants for a total of $1,225,400. The program has resulted in nearly 200 jobs retained or created and has benefited more than 2,600 producers.

If you have questions about the application process, contact DATCP’s Buy Local Buy Wisconsin program manager Kietra Olson at 608-224-5112 or Kietra.Olson@Wisconsin.gov


WLNF Summit – 2017 – WI Public Radio “Newsmakers” Interview & News 8000 La Crosse Summit Coverage

Check out the recent “Newsmakers” interview on WI Public Radio featuring La Crosse County’s Maggie Smith, Wisconsin Local Food Network‘s Kathleen Hein, Hillview Urban Agriculture Center‘s Joe Klinge and Feeding Wisconsin‘s David Lee. http://www.wpr.org/shows/newsmakers-february-2-2017

The interview covers the recent WI Local Food Summit and looks at local foods in our state and beyond, including Coulee Region Farm2School. The interview will replay on 88.9 on February 4th at 5 am and 6 pm.

Learn more about Coulee Region Farm2School at www.laxf2s.orgwpr-public-radio-2017-newsmaker-show

(L to R) Kathleen Hein – WLFN Chair; Maggie Smith, David Lee, Joe Klinge

Summit 2017 News Coverage – Highlighting the Importance of Local Food in Wisconsin

Text from the news story featured during the Summit in Jan 2017; Watch coverage by clinking on link below.

News Coverage – 2017 WLFN Summit

LA CROSSE, Wis. – There’s a push to grow and buy food locally, and the Wisconsin local food Summit is highlighting that.

This is the eleventh year the Wisconsin Local Food Network (WLFN) is hosting the summit, but the first year it’s in La Crosse.

Organizers said knowing where your food comes from is important for healthy people and communities, and the Coulee Region stands out in the state for how communities and businesses have embraced local food practices.

“I tell people this is important to only people who eat,” WLFN’s chair Kathleen Hein said.

The best discussions take place over food.

“I always like these conferences because they always have good food,” Hein said.

And if local food is the topic you’re bringing to the table, the Radisson Hotel in La Crosse is as good of a place as any Thursday and Friday, where there are representatives from about 160 different organizations that all have food in common.

“It’s about networking, connecting and inspiring people to go back to their own communities to make change,” Hein said.

Hein lives in Prairie Du Chien and is happy to see the local food summit brought home to the Coulee Region.

“It’s really exciting to see the work going on around the state, but then I think ‘We have it here!’, so it’s really nice to bring it here, especially to the Driftless Region,” she said.

“La Crosse is amazing. You guys are really looked at in the state as a shining beacon,” Angela Rester, WLFN manager, said.  “People in the state know that this is an amazing region to come to for production of food as well as farm to table.”

Organizers point to community gardens, and various organizations and businesses supporting locally-grown food as examples, such as Organic Valley.

“We all need to eat,” Shannon Havlik, sustainability manager at Organic Valley, said. “A lot of people don’t know where their food is coming from, and I think it’s important that children, families, everyone knows where their food is coming from and how it’s being made.”

There is still room for improvement in the La Crosse area, and sessions provided attendees with some food for thought on topics ranging from farm to table to starting a business in local food.

“This is about helping people discover things they didn’t know,” Rester said.

The keynote panel at the summit featured Midwest Food Policy leaders talking about how local food charters and policies have moved forward in surrounding states such as Minnesota and Michigan. Hein said she’d like to model that kind of organization and collaboration here.

Hein said hopefully when everyone gets home, they’ll have something new to bring to the table.

“The tools and connections to be inspired to make change in their local communities,” she said.

The summit continues Friday at the Radisson Hotel.


Job / Internship Opportunities in Local Food

2616088_origSheboygan Market Manager
Sheboygan County Interfaith Organization (SCIO)
The SCIO Farmer’s Market makes available fresh native products directly from farmers to residents. Working to help local farmers remain vibrant, educate the community on healthy eating, and provides a social experience that helps build community.

Market Communication Intern
Food, Faith, & Farming Network
Spring 2017
Assist with developing and executing digital marketing efforts including launching the organization’s new website. Prepare program support materials and coordinate pre-event planning. Qualifications: Passionate about earth stewardship and a just food system. Excellent verbal and written communication skills. Adobe Creative Suite or related experience demonstrating copy writing and/or design/layout skills. Ability to work independently to complete tasks. Keen attention to detail. Ability to arrange travel to attend meetings and events in Madison, WI. Submit resume in PDF form to: mhasheider@fumc.org

Farm to School Education Coordinator
REAP Food Group

This is a full time position with benefits. Please see position description and application instructions here. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until a suitable candidate is identified. Seeking a Farm to School Education Coordinator who is passionate about local, sustainable food and inspiring children to eat healthy and know where their food comes from. The Coordinator will manage the Farm to School educational curriculum and programs, deliver direct education in classrooms, and provide management and training to REAP Farm to School educators.

Education and Events Director
Wellspring Education Center & Organic Farm
Position will remain open until right candidate or candidates are found.  Part-time position or full-time, depending on candidate.  Position could include housing, food, utilities, internet, and laundry on-site at Wellspring. This position is responsible for Farm to School, field trips, camps, adult education, and events such as Taste of Wellspring – 35th Anniversary celebration, Agri-CULTURE Fest, etc.

Request job description and apply by submitting cover letter and resume to wellspringed@aol.com

Events Intern
Wellspring Education Center & Organic Farm
Interns commit to a regular schedule of 4-10 hours/week for at least 3 months.  Intern positions are open to students and community members able to commit to a regular schedule for the duration of the internship. Intern will be guided and taught by Wellspring staff, including the Executive Director with over 40 years of event planning, management, and delivery that included Cedarburg Festivals, numerous galas, open houses, YMCA events, and more. Executive Director was also National YMCA Trainer for program planning, management, and delivery.  Request intern description and apply by submitting cover letter and resume to wellspringed@aol.com

Outreach Coordinator
Wild Root Market, a food co-op startup in Racine
This person will be responsible for community outreach and member-owner recruitment. Candidates must have excellent communication and organizational skills, with a genuine enthusiasm for our community and our co-op. This is a part-time contract position. The Job Description with details about the position and application process is linked below. Send an email to hiring@wildrootmarket.com with questions.

Summit Presentations Led Many to Discuss Kids Learning to Cook – More Local Food Would Be on Plates

WLFN Manager & Wellspring Education Center and Organic Farm Executive Director, Angela Rester had the opportunity to chat with a lot of attendees for the 2017 WLFN Summit and then last week, attended the Routes to Farm Summit where 130+ farmers gathered from Illinois, Southern WI, and a bit of Indiana.  Both Summits had attendees talking about the need for folks to learn to cook again and to WANT to cook, which would lead to greater demands for local food which would in turn, positively impact the local economy and local community vitality, as well as, individual health.

Angie recalled seeing the movie “The Big Chill” where friends gathered over a weekend and while lives and the drama of those lives were revealed in the movie, the friends gathered in the kitchen to prepare the meal and cleaned up afterwards as they listened to great tunes like “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”. They sat together at the table and enjoyed conversation and great food. It honestly inspired folks to cook together and enjoy it!  Some may also recall the surge and interest in “progressive dinners” where the different courses were prepared and eaten in different homes.


“The Big Chill” – Dance Scene in the Kitchen

Is it time for something to happen that makes it “cool” to cook again and take time to enjoy food and friendship or family?  As a nation, do we need to change the devaluing of the dining experience where we insist that kids inhale their food at school and not talk or talk very little?  As a former 2nd grade teacher and someone who has traveled to 30 countries and seen and experienced the customs around food, Angie was very uncomfortable herself when given all of 8-10 minutes to eat her lunch before going out for playground duty (this was back in the mid-70’s). However, now sometimes teaching Farm to School in several elementary schools, she sees the same thing still happening.  “The lack of time to eat not only teaches really bad eating habits, but I think it also leads to some of the food waste we are seeing,” commented Rester.

This article from Huffington Post poses the question, “Should Schools Bring Back Home Economics?”  What do you think?  Go to our Facebook page and leave comments with this posting.  While there, LIKE our page if you haven’t already!

Should Schools Bring Back Home Economics?


At the Summit, Breakout Sessions included;

Wisconsin Farm to School: Continuing the MomentumVanessa Herald, Farm to School Outreach Specialist; Allison Pfaff Harris, WI Department of Public Instruction; Beth Hanna, Community GroundWorks; Natasha Smith, REAP Food Group

Food Waste and New Opportunities for Food RecoveryJonathan Rivin, World Environmental Consulting

Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE)- Growing Farm to Early Care and Education in La CrosseDaithi Wolfe, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families; Audra Wieser, The Parenting Place; Jordan Tredinnick, The Parenting Place; Beth Hanna, Community GroundWorks; Jill Carlson Groendyk, Community GroundWorks