June 20, 2008
Atlantic News Telegraph, June 19, 2008
Producers and retailers in Atlantic, Marne and Griswold were among eight recipients of grants from the Southwest Iowa Food and Farm Initiative (SWIFFI) "to assist in advancement of local food production and consumption," according to a press release.
Officials say Harrisdale/Rolling Hills CSA from Atlantic, Marne Farmers Market from Marne, and Our Daily Bread from Griswold all received grants. Other recipients are: Henry A. Wallace Life Center - Greenfield; Marilyn Geidel - Orient; Adams County Extension - Corning; Wes Stuetelberg - Audubon; Darin Jensen - Audubon; Vic Madsen - Audubon; Past Thyme Gardens - Linden; Kathie Madron - Oakland; and, Bill Buman - Harlan.
Producers and retailers in southwest Iowa are eligible for the grant funds, including people in the counties of Adair, Adams, Audubon, Cass, Guthrie, Montgomery, Pottawattamie, and Shelby. These grant dollars are being made available through funding provided by the Wallace Center for Sustainable Agriculture through its partnership with the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Regional Food Systems Working Group. Approximately $4,000 in grants were given away.
Last April, SWIFFI officials were offering the grants, which were for $500.
"Grant funds may be used for start-up or expansion costs related to producing crops or livestock products that will be sold for local consumption, such as fruits, vegetables, and meat," officials wrote in a press release about the grant last April. "Examples of eligible projects include the development of hoop structures or greenhouses to expand the growing season, development of structures to improve post-harvest handling and storage such as coolers or freezers, or projects related to the marketing or transportation of local foods."
In February, Rich Pirog, Associate Director of the Leopold Center, announced that the grants would be offered, and explained that similar grants have been given away in other parts of Iowa, and it has "worked very well."
Pirog said local foods are considered food that is sold in smaller amounts and moved across shorter distances, such as those sold at farmer's markets. In 2002, sales of local foods were estimated at $4 Billion, according to Pirog, and sales from last year were estimated at $5 Billion. He estimated sales will increase in the next few years to $7 Billion.
Pirog said there has been an increase in farmer's markets, as well as increase in local foods served at college campus. He used Iowa State University (ISU) as an example, saying ISU officials spent $333,655 on local food purchases in the fall of 2007.
He said the college has $6 million food budget, and the goal is to spend $2 million of that budget on local foods.
Pirog said to increase the supply of local foods things like more incentives for farmers are needed, as well more technical and financial assistance, and more research and development.
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