On January 12-13, 2017, The Wisconsin Local Food Network (WLFN) will hold its 11th Annual Summit at the Radisson Hotel in La Crosse, Wisconsin convening stakeholders from across the Wisconsin food system for learning, networking, and community building.

WLFN is a network of individuals and organizations that works towards a Wisconsin food system that supports a strong food infrastructure that helps local communities and businesses thrive, sustainable farms of all sizes, and affordable access to healthy locally grown food for ALL Wisconsin residents. With a long-standing partnership with UW-Extension and other food and agriculture groups, WLFN is the leading coalition of food advocates in the state.

The Summit, held annually since 2007, brings together community organizers, agency staff and advocates, educators, students, local food producers, processors, distributors, businesses, and eaters to learn, network, and help shape our local food systems.

Click here if you would like to see the e-news with all the details including the Pre-Summit Vernon County / Viroqua Experience, the La Crosse Food Tour on Thursday morning, the reception, networking dinner, opportunity to network with and converse with local food leaders from five (5) states, and things like carpooling and seeking or offering room shares.

In past Summits, WLFN has introduced concepts of Open Space, Networking, and Collective Impact throughout the schedule, encouraging participants to come together to discuss key issues surrounding the Wisconsin food system and to think creatively about how we can come together to collectively shape a strong, equitable food system.

This year’s closing general session will be a Wisconsin Food System Convergence. This will be a forum to solicit input from food system stakeholders on how to create a sustainable, good food movement throughout our state. The 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. 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.

“We are very excited for the closing general session,” said Kathleen Hein, WLFN Board Chair. “It will bring together the work we have done together over the last decade and start to chart a course forward for the next 10 years to engage more people and spark more connections throughout the state.”

“For those who have felt things may have moved too slowly in the past as it relates to action, we’ve heard you and the Convergence is our promise to ensure work between Summits,” said Angela Rester, former WLFN Board Director and currently managing WLFN. “The Wisconsin Healthy Food Systems Alliance partnered with us this year and have given an extra boost to ensuring next action steps between Summits.

Early bird registration rates are available until midnight CST Wednesday, December 21 and discounts are available for farmers and students (high school, technical college, and other higher learning institutions). Registration scholarships are also available for anyone wishing to participate but hasn’t the means or all of the means to do so. To register for the conference or to learn more about WLFN, please visit the Wisconsin Local Food Network website at

Volunteers are needed to serve as room hosts and monitors, set-up and take-down, support for IT needs, registration, and new this year, we need about 20 folks to serve as table moderators during the Convergence.  If you would like to learn ways that you can be engaged as a volunteer at the Summit or to help spread the word, please contact Angela Rester at or 262-488-4747.

New Farm Bill Contains More Funds To Encourage Eating Local Foods

Program Will Influence Wisconsin Farmers Markets

Wednesday, February 5, 2014, 11:42am
By Maureen McCollum
The U.S. Senate has passed the long-awaited $956 billion Farm Bill, and a small portion of that funding will go towards programs aimed at growing local food systems.

Funding for the Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program tripled in this Farm Bill: Thirty million dollars in grants will be awarded annually to get people eating more locally-grown foods.

Margaret Krome is the public policy director for the East Troy-based Michael Fields Agricultural Institute. She says the program will not only improve research and development, but can help Wisconsin’s entrepreneurs flourish.

“It helps to build farmers’ markets, expand farmers’ markets, help CSAs get started, expand them,” Krome said. “And now with this new mandate, it’ll do work with institutional marketing, with processing: some of those other barriers that get in the way of the flowering of local foods and regional food systems.”

Other Farm Bill provisions fund programs that aim to get more fresh, local food on the tables of low-income communities.

George Reistad also works with Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, as well as the Wisconsin Local Food Network. He says the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive increases the value of food stamps at farmers’ markets and grocery stores, which Reistad says could have huge impacts.

“To just eat healthier, eat better. To have access to markets where you can buy the fresh, nutritious produce and to then give an incentive,” Reistad said. “Because you have more purchasing power with your EBT card, it gives them the incentive to buy more produce.”

Another program will award grants to groups seeking solutions to combat food insecurity in low-income neighborhoods.

Farmers Needed in Africa – Farming and Teaching Opps (No formal teaching experience needed!)

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES 2014. We need your skills!

GHANA or UGANDA: Teach at Agricultural College No teaching or university
experience necessary.
What is needed are farmers with a strong background in organic farming, perma-culture and/or sustainable agriculture.

RWANDA: Cooperative Management
After the genocide and after much agonizing reconciliation work, organizations and the national government realized that the next step is having Hutus and Tutsis working side by side.  More than any other African country, Rwanda emphasizes cooperatives.  Come help teach how to run and manage a cooperative.

UGANDA: Dairy Farming
Experienced dairy farmers are needed to help improve production and milk yield.  Heifer International helped launch dairy program and now 10 years later, floundering dairy farmers need guidance on what to feed the animals and other best practices to improve yield.

UGANDA: Poultry Farming
A Domestic Violence program plans to sustain their organization by having 3,000 laying hens which supply eggs to Kenya.  They need help with preventing disease amongst poultry and preventing salmonella; of learning best practices for poultry farming.

CAMEROON or INDONESIA: Rural development Farmers in the rural villages in these countries are just starting to learn organic farming and sustainable agriculture.
They are eager to learn more about composting; rain water harvesting; drip irrigation; soil improvement & crop rotation.  Their goal? Improved yields so that they can sell some of their crops so they can afford a mosquito net.  When I was out in the villages in Cameroon, they barely had food to eat; and did not have $5 for a doctor visit.

ANTIGUA: Agri-Tourism
Farmers barely eke out a living on the Caribbean island of Antigua either.  The government has launched an initiative to build alternative livelihoods for the farmers.  Do you have a creative mind? An entrepreneurial spirit?  Come help farmers build alternative enterprises that attracts tourists to their farm:  e.g. live music; local food served; history tour; or a demonstration of
making steel drums.

Children’s Center for AIDS orphans feeds their children from the food grown out back. Come help in the fields!

Both experienced farmers & students needed.

Interested?  Please read NGOabroad website and send answered Questionnaire and resume to:

These are volunteer opportunities.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.


Let’s Not Reinvent the Wheel

Farmers and ranchers have a unique opportunity to meet consumer demand for sustainably produced food. But they need to start working together to develop regional brands and to identify ways to use existing food infrastructure.


Read the newspapers or turn on the radio or TV and you’ll hear that the world’s economies are in bad shape. Jobs aren’t being created fast enough, banks aren’t lending money to small businesses and we are all under a mountain of debt. State and local governments are struggling to pay their bills, and Washington politicians bicker over the best way to create a lasting recovery while also paying for our future obligations.

Yet even in this business and economic environment, small to mid-sized farmers and ranchers are developing new products, entering new markets and getting the attention of major retailers across the country. So how is this possible? Continue reading

Wisconsin’s local foods program – Buy Local Buy Wisconsin – is at risk.

Action Alert from Bridget Holcomb, Associate Policy Director, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

Farmers across Wisconsin have increased sales because of projects funded by Buy Local Buy Wisconsin grants. People who care about buying Wisconsin products now find them at more grocery stores, on more menus, and at more markets, and children eat them in more schools – because of this program.  Despite helping farmers and eaters, these grants are again on the chopping block.  2012 funding for Buy Local Buy Wisconsin grants was eliminated. We cannot allow that to happen in 2013.

Will you please take a moment to contact your State Senator and State Assembly Member and tell them that you care about local foods and want this program funding protected? You can find out who represents you and their contact information here.

Without any grant funding this year, the Buy Local Buy Wisconsin program was able to do a few workshops and other programming. But it was the grants from previous years that:

  • created over 100 jobs
  • brought in more than $2.7 million in new sales
  • created a 5:1 return on investment

We cannot let this program be a budget casualty again. This is the kind of job creating program we need in Wisconsin right now.

Thank you for making a quick call to your Wisconsin Senator and Assembly representative.  If you can take one extra minute, please tell us how the call went!  Email us here.