Pre-Summit Event

Meet up with other Local Food enthusiasts in the “always talked about” Vernon County and Viroqua. Drive in on Wednesday afternoon and start at 3 p.m. at the Vernon Economic Development Association’s Food Enterprise Center – 1201 North Main Street, Viroqua, WI 54665 for an afternoon and evening of tours, wine-tasting, and an incredible dinner.  Summit attendees are encouraged to participate before the Summit.  Non-Summit attendees are able to do this separately.10927-viroqua-vernon-flyer

To register, go to the registration form at WLFN Summit & Pre-Summit Registration Form. Complete the registration form and separately go to payment to pay on-line. To pay via phone, call 262-675-6755 or by mail send check made payable to WLFN to, WLFN, 4382 Hickory Road, West Bend, WI 53090.


2017 Summit Schedule and Presenters!!

wilocalfoodnetworklogofinalWe are pleased to announce the schedule and presenters for the 2017 Wisconsin Local Food Summit!

The Summit will take place at the Radisson Hotel in La Crosse on January 12-13th.

CLICK HERE for registration details.

Remember, Early Bird Tickets are on sale until December 21st!

We also have Scholarships available!!

We have an exciting line up of presenters this year on topics such as how to increase farm to school and farm to early care initiatives; finding and using resources from DATCP, UW-Extension, and the Farm Service Agency; building community food systems on tribal lands; developing grass-fed farming; and so much more! For a full list of our amazing lineup of presenters, CLICK HERE.

Keynote Panel: Discussion with Midwestern State Food Policy Leaders 

This year, we are also featuring a keynote panel with leaders from Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan who have led local food policy initiatives in their states. These panelists will be discussing the work they have done  to build local food charters, policies, and funding systems in their respective states.

  • Bridget Holcomb: Executive Director of Women, Food, and Agriculture Network (WFAN)
  • Stephanie Heim: Associate Program Director in Community Food Systems at University of Minnesota Extension
  • Michael Dahl: Director of Minnesota Food Charter Network
  • Tom Spaulding: Executive Director of Angelic Organics
  • Jude Barry: Food System Specialist at the Center for Regional Food Systems – Michigan State University.


The abbreviated Summit Schedule is below. For a full schedule and updates, please CLICK HERE.

Thursday, January 12, 2017: Day 1 Summit

7:30 am Registration Begins
7:30-8:30 am Breakfast
8:30 am Welcoming Address
8:45-9:15 am Networking Activity
9:30-10:45 am Breakout Session I                Tour Option: La Crosse Local                                                Food Projects  9:30-12:30pm
10:45-11:15 am Break & Exhibit Hall
11:15am-12:30 pm Breakout Session 2
12:30 – 1:45 pm Lunch
1:45-2:15 pm Break – Visit Exibits/Posters
2:15-3:30 pm Breakout Session 3
3:30-3:45 pm Break
3:45-4:45 pm Open Space
5:00 – 6:15 pm Happy Hour and Reception (Hackberry’s Bistro at People’s Food Co-op) Cash Bar

6:30 – 8:00 pm                        Dine Around – Summit Attendee Group Dining Options                                                          (Meal and drink expenses not included in Summit fees)


Friday, January 13, 2017: Day 2 Summit

7:00-8:00 am Breakfast and Table Topics Networking
8:00-8:15 am WLFN Announcements
8:15-9:30 am Breakout Session 4
9:30-10:00 am Break & Exhibits
10:00-12:00 pm Panel – Local Food Systems in IL, IA, MI, and MN
12:00-1:15 pm Lunch – Announcements & Video
1:15-1:30 pm Break
1:30-2:55 pm Convergence
2:55-3:00 pm Wrap-up and Evaluations


A special thank you to our sponsors:

SARE_NorthCentral_CMYK OV_Logo4x3_300dpi  uwex_ces

Scholarships Available for the 2017 WI Local Food Summit!!

The 2017 Wisconsin Local Food Summit will be taking place at the Radisson Hotel in La Crosse, WI on January 12-13th. Limited scholarships are available to try to make the Summit accessible to as many people as possible. Anyone is eligible to apply for the scholarship, including: students, nonprofit professionals, teachers, AmeriCorps members, community advocates, farmers, chefs, food service workers, volunteers, and more! If you are interested in Wisconsin food and have a financial barrier that would otherwise keep you from attending, don’t hesitate to apply!!

Also, please spread the word far and wide by sharing with all of your contacts! We want everyone to see this wonderful opportunity and to get a great, diverse audience at this Summit as we continue to move our great state forward!

We look forward to seeing you at the Summit!


Meet the Keynotes at the 2017 Wisconsin Local Food Summit!!

This year, the Wisconsin Local Food Network will be changing things up a bit at our annual Summit. In addition to our regular keynotes, we will also be presenting a special Keynote Panel featuring local food policy leaders from the Midwest. These panelists will be discussing the work they have done  to build local food charters, policies, and funding systems in their respective states.




Bridget Holcomb: Executive Director of Women, Food, Agriculture Network (WFAN); Representing the Iowa and Illinois Food Policy Councils





Tom Spaulding: Executive Director of Angelic Organics; Representing the Illinois Food Policy & Council




Jude Berry: Food System Specialist at Center for Regional Food Systems – Michigan State University; Representing the Michigan Good Food Charter




Stephanie Heim: Associate Program Director in Community Food Systems at University of Minnesota Extension; Representing the Minnesota Food Charter





Michael Dahl: Director of the Minnesota Food Charter Network; Representing the Minnesota Food Charter



Each of these panelists will also be doing individual breakouts during the Summit to dig down deeper into the work they have done with their state-wide policy initiatives and their organizations.

The Summit will close with a facilitated Wisconsin Food System Convergence designed to build consensus and energy so that individuals and organizations can leave the Summit with a greater understanding and awareness of local food policy development as well as immediate action steps to make continued impact in local communities between Summits. WLFN will also be unveiling it’s “forward action” plan with the launching of an enhanced State-wide listserve for Local Food events, conversations, meetings, and resources.

To register for this exciting event, visit our event page at:

Early Bird Tickets are on sale until December 21st!!



National Food Day, October 24th 2016!!

National Food Day

National Food Day inspires Americans to change their diets and our food policies. Every October 24, thousands of events all around the country bring Americans together to celebrate and enjoy real food and to push for improved food policies.

October 24 is a day to resolve to make changes in our own diets and to take action to solve food-related problems in our communities at the local, state, and national level. In 2016, Food Day has the theme “Toward a Greener Diet.”

This annual event involves some of the country’s most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it.

With Food Day, we can celebrate our food system when it works and fix it when it’s broken. Across the country, more than 8,000 events took place in 2015, from community festivals in Denver, Savannah, and New York City, to a panel discussion on food justice in Washington, DC, to thousands of school activities in Portland, Minneapolis, and elsewhere. Hundreds of events are being planned on and around October 24, 2016.

Why Food Day?

The typical American diet is contributing to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems. Those problems cost Americans more than $150 billion per year. Plus, a meat-heavy diet takes a terrible toll on the environment.

Eating Real can save your own health and put our food system on a more humane, sustainable path. With America’s resources, there’s no excuse for hunger, low wages for food and farm workers, or inhumane conditions for farm animals.

Join the Movement

The most important ingredient in Food Day is you! Use October 24 to start—or celebrate—eating a healthier diet and putting your family’s diet on track. Food Day is not just a day; it’s a year-long catalyst for healthier diets and a better food system. Let’s use this energy to make a meaningful and long-lasting difference! Use #NationalFoodDay to promote your activities today!

Growing Power’s National-International Urban and Small Farm Conference 2016

Growing Power’s National-International Urban and Small Farm Conference 2016


“Let’s Scale It Up! Growing Food and Farmers: Best Practices in Growing, Distribution and Community Building.”

Every two years, hundreds of people from around the world travel to Milwaukee to participate in an intensive three-day conference ranging in topics such as urban aquaculture, urban farming, planning strategies, education, youth programming, food policy and food justice. Participants include farmers, academics, chefs, policy makers, organizers, and people from countless other walks of life. Our conference theme for 2016 is Let’s Scale it Up! Growing Food and Farmers: Best practices in growing, distribution and community building. It is time for the Good Food Revolution to scale up and push ourselves to move beyond just one garden or one market, and make things better for ourselves, our neighbors, and our world.

This year, Will Allen and conference organizers are excited to announce that we are bringing the conference home hosting it at Growing Power’s world headquarters at 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive and at our Community Food Distribution Center in Butler, WI. Hundreds of participants will gather and share best practices and learn how we can scale-up together. Workshops will be hands-on, interactive and will showcase the work being done locally in the Milwaukee area as well as nationally and internationally.

Coinciding with the conference is the Growing Food and Justice for All (GFJI) Gathering. GFJI is a comprehensive network that views dismantling racism as a core principle which brings together social change agents from diverse sectors who are working to bring about new, healthy and sustainable food systems, while supporting and building multicultural leadership in impoverished communities throughout the world.

We would like conference attendees to learn how they can grow food year-round, no matter what the climate, and how they can build markets for small farms. We hope that the conference will galvanize our collective efforts to create a new food system that fosters better health and more closely-knit communities.

Interested in being apart of this historic conference? Register Today!

Interested in attending but can’t swing the registration fees? 

Check out these Conference Scholarships!

Scholarship application is for both Compost & Conference Scholarships as well as Conference Only Scholarships. Scholarships will be given on a first come first serve basis and a small fee may be collected. Please direct any questions to

Bootcamp for Food Entrepreneurs – Save the Date! Edible Startup Summit 2016!

August 24-26, 2016 at Goodman Community Center
Preheat your oven and head to the Edible Startup Summit, an intensive three-day workshop for aspiring and beginning food entrepreneurs in Wisconsin. Learn from regional experts in marketing, package and branding design, finding funding, business planning, food safety, how to get your local product onto the grocery store shelf and more.  Learn how to demo your product, have a 1:1 consultation with industry veterans, and network with other food entrepreneurs looking to start or expand their new local food business.
This year’s event is hosted in partnership by the WI DATCP, Dane County UW-Extension, and Forward Fest.
Edible Agenda
 (Agenda not actually edible, and remember, it’s subject to change)
Wednesday  August 24th  8am to 4pm
Trends in the Food Sector & Market Research
Entrepreneur Panel: Examples of social enterprises, sourcing local and other trends
With Fizzeology Foods, Underground Meats, Off the Block Salsa, Square Harvest,
Flavor Temptations, and Mudd Creek
Creating a Uniquely Defensible Brand
Telling your business’s Story Through Branding
with Cricket Design Works & Foxwell Digital
  How to Do a Product Demo
Product Demos (by the folks who’ve done it before!)
Resources & Networking
Thursday August 25th 8am to 4pm
  Participant Pitches
Business Concept Planning
with Jim Gage
  Marketing & Packaging
Food and Meat Safety 101
with DATCP’s Division of Food Safety
  1:1 Consultations with Industry Veterans and Experts
Product Demos (by you!)
Resources & Networking
Friday August 26th 8am to 4pm
  Selling your products (working with retailers and distributors)
Financial management
Finding Funding Sources with Tera Johnson
1:1 Consultations with Industry Veterans and Experts
 Resources & networking
Tour: FEED Kitchens, business incubators
For more information about the Edible Startup Summit, please contact:
DATCP: Kietra Olson at 608-224-5112 or
Dane County UW-Extension: Sharon Lezberg at 608-224-3719 or

Local Food Co-op Receives Grant for Farm Loans

ASHLAND, WI – Chequamegon Food Co-op recently received a $600 matching grant from the Agriculture and Energy Resource Center (AERC) for farm loan projects. These funds will be added to the Co-op’s micro-loan program, which offers no-interest, short-term loans to local food producers. The micro-loan program began in 2008 as a way for the cooperative grocery store to invest its profits in the local food system and to potentially provide more local foods for the Co-op’s shelves. The Co-op will match the AERC funds using their CHIP for Change program. CHIP for Change is a contribution program where money given by customers at the Co-op’s registers helps fund the micro-loan program.

The AERC has funded several area projects to provide recognition for groups and organizations that are attempting to address sustainability, environmental stewardship, and local food production. In addition to the grant funds, each organization received $50.00 to cover the cost of an annual membership in the Lake Superior chapter of the Wisconsin Innovation Network. Other grant award recipients were as

 The Bayfield Regional Conservancy will receive $550.00 for trail, land management, and membership activities.

 The Bad River Food Sovereignty Initiative will receive $1000.00 for local food production and youth training activities.

 The Red Cliff Community Farm will receive $1000.00 for food sovereignty and youth projects.

 Farms Not Factories will receive $550.00 for family farm support projects.

 Bad River Watershed Association will receive $550.00 for water quality research activities.

Chequamegon Bay area residents are invited to participate in this funding event. Community members who believe in sustainability, environmental stewardship, and local food production, are encouraged to offer a matching donation to the above award recipients.

To learn more about the Co-op micro-loan program, please contact Harold Vanselow, general manager, at (715) 682-8251 or

aerc grant check pic

Pre-Summit Festivities

The Wisconsin Local Food Network is excited to partner with many Sheboygan organizations this year for our Pre-Summit Scheduled events!

The Summit festivities will kick off on Wednesday, January 13 at 10:00 a.m. with the East Wisconsin Fish Summit and will continue at 3:00 p.m. with Sheboygan city open houses. End the evening at Lakeshore Culinary Institute for a “Taste” local event, featuring a taste of Wisconsin’s finest terroir! Check out the flyer below that highlights all of the festivities! Let the countdown begin!

WLFN Open House Flyer 2016

Borrow, Save, Share: 3 Ways Seeds Can Democratize Our Food System

Just six companies control 63 percent of the commercial seed market. But seed libraries offer us an opportunity to reclaim the seed commons and create our own community food systems.


Our food system is broken and needs to be fixed, many say. But it isn’t broken. In fact, I think it’s working exactly how it was intended. The current food system, and the legal rules that govern it, have been built by and for only the largest producers, retailers, and manufacturers. The bigger the better, the logic goes, which is why our food economy is dominated by large, increasingly consolidated, vertically integrated corporations.

An especially consolidated sector of our food system is the seed economy; for example, just six companies control 63 percent of the commercial seed market. Because most of our food starts off as seed, instead of trying to fix a system that isn’t intended to work for the vast majority of people, animals, or the planet, we should try to create our own.

 If we want more equitable access to healthy, affordable food grown locally by small farmers who steward natural resources responsibly, this is exactly what we need to do. The task is tall, but so achievable, especially if we all commit to working together in the right direction. Here are three simple steps we can take to reintroduce democracy back into our seed system and into our neighborhoods.

1. Borrow

If you haven’t been to your local library recently, you might be surprised to find a seed library there. Across the United States, there are about 400 of these community-based seed sharing initiatives, which allow neighbors to share seeds with one another. It basically works like this: You borrow seeds, grow the plant, harvest almost all of the fruit (which you eat!), and save and return some of the seeds back to the library, where others will repeat the process. Seed librarian extraordinaire Rebecca Newburn, cofounder of Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library, says it like this: “It’s like checking out a book, except that you’ve added a chapter when you return it.”

Seed libraries make seeds freely available to its members or the public, relying on reciprocity and a sense of interdependence to ensure that its stock is continually replenished. By treating seeds as a common resource to be stewarded for the public benefit, libraries create what is called the seed commons. The commons reframes our role in relationship to seeds as that of caretakers instead of owners. While owners only have a responsibility to themselves, caretakers have a responsibility to the seeds and to the community that placed them under their care. By bringing seeds into the commons, we have the power to democratize access to, and control over, one of our basic necessities: food.

2. Save

Seed saving is nothing new. If anything, it’s likely one of the oldest continuous human traditions, going back some 10,000 years. Just in the last century or so, we as a society have lost—and been removed from—our connection to seed. In this time, seeds have been transformed from a common resource into a commodity, bought and sold and owned by fewer and fewer companies.

But saving seed is not necessarily simple. That’s why libraries exist as educational resources to help us rediscover the art and skill involved with it. Re-skilling ourselves means that we will be able to provide healthy foods to ourselves and our families, build community resilience in the face of climate change, and rediscover the cultural history and significance attached to the seeds we save.

In practice, it also means growing food for ourselves and our communities. The more food we grow ourselves, the less we rely on a global food system that prioritizes profit over environmental, human, or animal welfare. It also means that we are buying and selling food locally, circulating our dollars in our communities, and generating local wealth. Seed saving is at once an act of resistance and renewal.

3. Share

The success of our new food system relies equally on our independence from the current system as it does on our interdependence on each other. What that simply means is that we should share more and share more equitably. We should share both the risk and the reward, the profits and the losses, the efforts and the outcomes. By sharing, we also begin to take part in an alternative economy, one not based on transacting money for goods or services, but on relationships, gift giving, and mutual aid. At a time when dollars in our economy are increasingly scarce and consolidated in the hands of the wealthy few, sharing gives us the means to provide for ourselves.

In particular, sharing seeds is an easy place to start, because seeds by their nature almost beg to be shared. One tomato plant might produce upwards of 500 seeds, which, in theory, could be planted in 500 different gardens the next season. Now, imagine that 100 households grow five crops each to share their seeds. It’s not difficult to picture the multiplying effect community-based seed sharing could have on the total amount of local food production!

Yet no good deed goes unpunished. Right now, seed libraries across the country are struggling to protect their ability to facilitate local sharing. In partnership with others, Sustainable Economies Law Center, where I work, has been leading a campaign to raise public awareness of this struggle and to advocate on behalf of seed sharing organizations. You can learn more about it at our Save Seed Sharing website.

Creating a true bottom-up democracy means that we need to envision democracy not just in our government but in all aspects of our lives. Civic engagement is not just about choosing who to vote for—it’s also about choosing how and where to spend a dollar. Seed libraries offer us an opportunity to become more civically engaged by reintroducing democracy into the food economy, reclaiming the seed commons, and empowering communities to begin creating their own local food systems.